<![CDATA[George Vecsey - Home]]>Wed, 25 Nov 2015 21:54:46 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Giving Thanks for Continuity]]>Tue, 24 Nov 2015 19:58:21 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/giving-thanks-for-continuity
Photo courtesy of Anita Ruthling Klaussen
Uncle Harold is cooking duck, because Barbara always loved it for Thanksgiving.

Since it is Maine, three families have invited him over on Thursday but he wants to be alone, with Barbara, he says. They were together for more than six decades until she died last December. Someone is bringing dessert, and I am sure they will stay a while.

Thanksgiving is for remembering people. My mother-in-law, Mary, who passed early this year, always set a great table and made superb pies the kids still talk about.

I am sure that on Thursday a few of the older grand-daughters will talk about visiting my father in his bedroom on Thanksgiving evening in 1984, and how Pop surveyed the anxiety on their faces and said, “What is this, a death watch?” He passed a few hours later.

The Band played its Last Waltz on Thanksgiving of 1976. We still have the music, and the Scorsese movie, and thanks for that, rocking in my earphones. 

Thanksgiving is also for people who are with us. The other day I wished a waiter from Central America “Buen Dia del Pavo” – Happy Turkey Day. He said, “Lo mejor” -- the best.

I give thanks for the higher power who is there for me, for my wife and our children and their children, and for so many friends from Jamaica High and my student-athlete buddies from Hofstra and my writer pals from the round table, thankful that we still meet, and for the people who protect us, including the good man who has gone gray in six years of a brutal job.

And while I am saying thanks, I include the correspondents who enlighten the Comments on my little therapy web site. Every click is part of a community I value.. Thank you.  
The New York Times Upshot reassures us that it's okay to eat pie on Thanksgiving.
<![CDATA[Fraternité -- Now More Than Ever]]>Sat, 21 Nov 2015 01:40:51 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/fraternite-now-more-than-ever
It took a week  
before I could even link
the horror in Paris
with my little site.
Then, in my head,
I formulated a tribute to Paris,
But it turned out,
I had written it, last January.

I cannot write another one
about the deep shuddering joy
of  being in the City of Light
On a Friday evening.
One ex-pat friend,
Living in La France Profonde, wrote me,
“No one does life better than the French.”
That’s why they are targets, he added.
Another friend is flying over, next week. 
“It'll be my little contribution to saying %$&# you
to the murderers who tried to take the city away from those of us who cherish it
and what it represents.”
I won't write about the narrow streets
Or the aroma of coq au vin in the mist.
Better I write about the French people
Who spoke to us in English  after 9/11
and made room for us on the Metro.
Now I watch survivors like the beautiful couple on Anderson Cooper,
the woman's face haunted
the young man (a model, I looked it up),
volunteering sympathy for Syrian migrants, who have their own misery.
Another man lost his lovely wife
In the music club
and wrote a tribute to her,
And promised to live without hatred. 

Is it possible? 
The young man volunteered that he understood the plight of Syrians, also.
<![CDATA[Arnold Hano, Wrote about Mays' Catch, Honored at 93]]>Sun, 15 Nov 2015 13:17:13 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/arnold-hano-wrote-about-mays-catch-honored-at-93
Check the grip. It comes up in the coda of the documentary.
Nice to be re-discovered.
For many decades, Arnold Hano was one of the best magazine writers in America. He is best known for his slender jewel of a book, “A Day in the Bleachers,” which he wrote on impulse after witnessing Willie Mays’ catch in the 1954 World Series.
But he is so much more than that, a 1930’s guy who still talks about “the social contract” – the relationship between individuals and society.

“He met and talked with Babe Ruth, JFK and John Wayne, saw Mays’ iconic catch, Larsen’s perfecto, and successfully battled racism, land developers, big corporations, and the federal government. says Jon Leonoudakis, a California-based film-maker who was so taken with Hano’s body of work that he has put together a documentary about him.

“His story has flown under the radar of popular culture for nearly a hundred years -- until now,” Leonoudakis added.

Hano is 93 and living in Laguna Beach, Calif., with his wife Bonnie. They have been together for 67 years as he wrote about protecting wildlife from Disney and other developers.

Two baseball stars, Orlando Cepeda and Felipe Alou, testify in the film about Hano’s fair depiction of Latino players.

The Hanos also demonstrated against prejudice in their adopted beach town. And they joined the Peace Corps in their 60’s and built schools in Costa Rica.

The film-maker became entranced with Hano and began interviewing him, with Hano insisting there was no story. (Larry David would play him in the bio-pic.)

Leonoudakis rounded up a gaggle of admiring colleagues (including me) and added an artistic blend of original jazz, original art (not the usual sports schlock) and touching photos, including Arnold and Bonnie Hano, young and old.

The couple was back in New York the other day (at Bergino Baseball Clubhouse) to publicize the documentary. She was there on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 29, 1954, when Hano – without any assignment or credential -- decided he would walk to the Polo Grounds for the opening game of the Series between the Giants and Cleveland. 

Bonnie Hano, as wives do, told her husband not to be silly. He was never going to be able to walk up and buy a ticket. He did not listen to her, and stood two hours on line and paid $2.10 (he remembers all that stuff) to sit in the bleachers, the left-field side, so he could call balls and strikes from 500 feet away.

He started keeping score -- that’s what people did at ballparks before selfies -- and taking notes in the margin of his paper (The Times.)

Top of the eighth. Tie game. Nobody out. Runners on first and second. Then Willie Howard Mays began running toward Arnold Hano to track down a mammoth drive by Vic Wertz. Hano watched as Mays, arms outstretched, caught the ball as it soared over his shoulder, and then, in one fantastic powerful whirling motion, turned and dispatched the ball to second base, on a powerful arc.
Larry Doby did move from second to third, but Al Rosen had to go back to first because of Mays’ howitzer shot. .
(“Wertz flew to center field,” tersely reports the play-by-play on the invaluable Retrosheet.)

Hano watched the Giants win, 5-2, on Dusty Rhodes’ homer in the 10th. Then he went home and typed up his report, which turned into a small book that did not sell much at first but has become one of the classics of the sport.
I wrote about the book on the 50th anniversary of the Mays catch, in 2004:

Arnold and Bonnie Hano downgrade the book as something short of literature. They do have their opinions, which Hano has injected into the copious details and color and quotes -- one of the best dossiers of sports magazine articles, ever.

Now he has been captured in a knowing 53-minute film. Leonoudakis is seeking space on television and festivals and archives devoted to baseball – and journalism, and America.

The film is film is available on DVD from the film’s website:

It is also available for streaming:

Oh, yes, and check out the cover art (above). It figures in the delightful coda to the documentary. Carl Hubbell. That’s all I’m saying. 
Arnold and Bonnie Hano Back in New York, Nov. 13, 2015
<![CDATA[Alcoholism and Baseball: Bob Welch's Book Lives!]]>Thu, 12 Nov 2015 14:02:20 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/alcoholism-and-baseball-bob-welchs-book-lives
There is no consolation for losing a friend way too young, but at least Bob Welch’s book on his alcoholism has a new life – in electronic form. 
Bob died suddenly in June of 2014 at the age of 57. I wrote a tribute to him, how he went through rehab in 1980, at the age of 23, after nearly wrecking his pitching career. He stayed sober and wound up winning the Cy Young Award, but his real victory was sobriety. He set an example for others, particularly young people who think they are immune to being alcoholics at such an early age.

​Bob gives examples --  frightening, graphic, and illuminating  -- of the acts and  cover-ups of the alcoholic. 
His son Riley was the driving force behind the re-publication of Bob’s book. He wanted his dad to be remembered, for all the right reasons. 

I have written a new prologue and epilogue to cover the main points of Bob’s life after pitching. (There are also some links to stories about Bob, as well as a couple about alcoholism.) Bob always reminded people – and himself – that alcoholics need to be vigilant, day by day.
I’m not an alcoholic, but I surely learned from Bob and my other friends that you don’t have to drink, at this moment.

Of all the books I have written, this one has done the most good. Alas, the earlier versions of Bob’s book are out of print, but I hope anybody interested in “the problem” – particularly in the young -- will consider clicking off an e-copy of Bob’s book, via Open Road Integrated Media: 
                                     Thank you,
                                      George Vecsey
<![CDATA[One Good Book Leads to Another]]>Tue, 10 Nov 2015 16:50:27 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/one-good-book-leads-to-another
Simon Winchester books are always rewarding. One of them even helped enlighten me about family history.

He’s on tour right now for his latest book, “Pacific.” I’ve been a fan since we met as reporters following the Irish prime minister around New York, oh, a few years back.
I mentioned to our son that I had met Winchester a long time ago, so David bought me a copy of Winchester’s 2013 book, “The Men Who United the States,” about the travelers and builders and visionaries who tied the huge country together with roads, trains and electricity.

That book made me realize, all over again, how little I know about American history. I’ve been on hills and rivers in Appalachia that George Washington had explored as a surveyor and soldier and president. I had never read much about Lewis and Clark, how they explored the west – sometimes even splitting up into two parties and meeting further west, all without the help of a GPS, kids.

But there was one footnote that really intrigued me. There it is, bottom of Page 19. Before Lewis, before Clark, a “Connecticut opportunist” named John Ledyard had dreamed of walking North America – from west to east, starting in Russia, for goodness’ sakes.

I had never heard of Ledyard, but I do know the name. The maternal branch of my wife’s family has long roots in Ledyard, Conn., where a Quaker offshoot, the Rogerenes, settled in the 17th Century.

We sometimes stop off in Ledyard, on runs to Boston or Providence, to visit the old Quakertown cemetery (on Col. Ledyard Highway) and pay our respects to Grandpa and Grandma Grundy, and cousin Faith, who put up a good fight but died way too young.

Turns out, the town is named after John’s uncle,  William Ledyard, who became an officer in the Revolution and in 1781 was murdered by an English officer after handing over his sword. John Ledyard, ever the maverick, maintained his British loyalties, and eventually joined the British navy and served on the second Pacific voyage of Captain Cook.

I was hooked, so I ordered up a copy of “Ledyard: In Search of the First American Explorer,” by Bill Gifford. What a life. Ledyard was a Dartmouth student who defied authority, hyperactive or bipolar or whatever the modern term is, but also smart and handsome and randy. Bored in college, he got in a canoe and paddled downriver on the Housatonic, essentially never stopping.

Years later he charmed Thomas Jefferson, the ambassador to Paris, into subsidizing his dreamed exploration of the American continent. He mooched off everybody and he walked, often by himself, being known by the description of “traveler.” He never made it to Alaska although he got close, until Catherine, empress of Russia, decided he was a spy, and ordered him expelled – to Poland. He died in Cairo, quite likely from excesses.

It’s not the first time Winchester (now an American citizen) has expanded my horizons. Before I went to Seoul for the 1988 Olympics, I read his book, Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles, about his hiking through the mountains.
I loved South Korea and its people and their passion for hiking before I ever got there. I’ll catch up with “Pacific” – including the footnotes. 
<![CDATA[Once Upon a Time: Batman and Robin in Tennessee]]>Sat, 07 Nov 2015 14:33:36 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/once-upon-a-time-batman-and-robin-in-tennessee
Fred Thompson and Sen. Howard Baker

Fred Thompson’s obituary reminded me of another time and place, when fewer public figures made me feel, well, I think the word is icky.

In the very early ‘70’s, I was a New York Times Appalachian correspondent based in Louisville.

There were giants in those days, who believed in government. Some of them were Republicans. I got to write about Sen. John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, Mayor Richard Lugar of Indianapolis and a young United States Attorney from Western Pennsylvania, Richard Thornburgh, who gave me a private seminar in jury selection that informs me to this day.

One lovely fall day, I took a ride around Nashville with Sen. Howard Baker, who was running for re-election. He brought along his campaign manager, tall and droll, Fred Thompson.

I don’t remember a word. My story included Baker’s Democratic opponent saying Baker was too liberal toward the antibusing movement. I only remember good conversations in the car and Fred Thompson’s pipe. For a lefty from New York, I was not at all surprised to see things from their perspective, and to enjoy their company.

The Watergate break-in had taken place three months earlier. It was not mentioned in my story. None of us had any way of knowing Baker would be a major figure in the hearings, and that Thompson would become famous for whispering to Baker, as one of his chief assistants.

I was not the slightest bit surprised when Baker was seen as a stalwart, honest man who examined the evidence against President Nixon. 

I followed their careers, as Thompson became an actor – well, he was always an actor – and a senator himself.

Recently, I came across a story I had written in 1972, about possible legislation to limit strip mining – ripping coal from the surface of hilly Appalachia. The two proponents were Sen. Cooper from Kentucky (who was about to retire) and Sen, Baker from Tennessee, both Republicans, from coal states. 

I thought about the way current senators grovel in front of coal -- Joe Manchin of West Virginia (a nominal Democrat who sometimes seems like a nice guy) and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (who does not, ever.)

In the year of Trump and Carson and the nebbish Bush and the twerp from Florida I call El Joven, I remember a sunny day driving around Nashville with Howard Baker and Fred Thompson – and not feeling like I needed a shower afterward. What has happened? 
<![CDATA[Thanks to the Mets for a Great Season]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2015 17:50:14 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/thanks-to-the-mets-for-a-great-seasonPictureThink About This All Winter
What a wonderful time, probably the most fun I've ever had watching a team through an entire season, allowed to be a fan.Not going to let the last week get in the way.

They were admirable, playing for Collins even when he had AAA players and castoffs in the middle of the lineup, guys like Campbell and Recker, plus Colon and Niese, who made the Mets decent enough, bought time, emboldened the management to spend on better players. 

Who will forget Wright’s first swing in Philly, and the perceived panic move of calling up Conforto from AA ball, and the arrival of Johnson and Uribe, plus Wilmer Flores’ tears, and then Cespedes, out of nowhere, looking like Willie Mays for six weeks.  ("Sold his soul to the devil so he could play guitar" -- Lucinda Williams.) 

They crushed the Nationals. They stunned the Dodgers’ aces. They swept the Cubs. Now they have lost to a better team that plays the game right, guys who learned lessons last year, and carried them out this year. Great energy. Skills. Make contact. Take the base. 

No recriminations. Harvey challenged the manager in the dugout, in front of teammates, in front of the world. 

On Sunday evening, I felt: Let him pitch til he puts somebody on base. Two-run lead. Then bring in the big guy. Collins stayed with him one batter too long, not two, but unless I was in the dugout, with the decision to make, I won’t second-guess Collins. He’s had a great run.

Murphy also had a great run, clubbing Chicago into submission. The Mets were going to jettison him anyway, for reasons of salary and age and defensive liability, his inner klutz. Back to Plan A.

As for Cespedes, my National League-centric brain wondered why he had been on three AL teams in his short time in the majors. Looking back, why did it take NL pitchers six weeks to learn to go up, up, up on Cespedes?

He couldn’t adjust. He seemed to get more nonchalant in the outfield and the bases as the pressure mounted. He went golfing on the day of a game in Chicago. I don’t think he was ready in center field for the first pitch of the World Series. He’s 30, time to keep moving. He just saved the Wilpons a ton of money, but what an epic jolt he brought for those few short weeks. 

I spent the whole season watching personal favorites like Granderson, deGrom, Familia. Who knows about next
year? But wasn’t it a great time?

<![CDATA[David Wright’s Big Game Stands By Itself]]>Sat, 31 Oct 2015 13:35:39 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/david-wrights-big-game-stands-by-itself
Swipe Tag Not Bad for a Guy With Spinal Stenois

Before this World Series began, I thought that anything more would be gravy.

No Yankee sense of entitlement, just humility and awe at seeing this team-on-the-fly in the World Series, against a team that plays the game right.

As a Met fan staying home and watching, I could not have wished a game like Friday’s for David Wright, but there it is – a two-run homer that energized the Mets, two more runs on a single later.

And two Jeterian plays in the field – a scramble into the corner to fetch a ball and hold the batter to a single, and a swipe tag that was validated by replay. He didn’t dive into the stands and bloody himself. But he would have.

I wrote about Wright nine days ago, and Tyler Kepner had a lovely column in Saturday’s NYT; I don’t have to go over it again –  upstanding leader, solid player, and now, for one manic night, the star of a World Series victory.

Noah Syndegaard’s strong six innings, perhaps you could trace them back to the day in spring training when Wright and Bobby Parnell dumped Syndegaard’s lunch in the garbage.

Friday was the reward for Wright, for Syndegaard, and maybe even for Parnell who ran out of velocity in his comeback.

No idea how the Mets will do, as of Saturday morning. But I would like to quote the eminent baseball sage, Johnny Damon, who on the night the Red Sox fell behind, three games to none, to the Yankees in 2004, stood in the crowded clubhouse at Fenway and calmly told reporters: "Unless I'm mistaken, we've won four straight before." (Turned out they had, eight times.)

The Mets have had their own streaks in this run. And David Wright had a game that he and Mets fans can and should always remember, on its own. 
<![CDATA[The Book That Prophesied the Mets Were 'Revived']]>Tue, 27 Oct 2015 19:28:47 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/the-book-that-prophesied-the-mets-were-revivedWritten before Game 1: Somewhere, sometime, Colon helps win a game in long relief, like Ryan in 69 and Fernandez in 86. Royals play the game right -- good energy, make contact. Mets in 7
PictureStaging a Revival in Chicago

​I admit it. I blinked when I saw the title of Steve Kettmann’s book around Opening Day: “Baseball Maverick:  How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.”

It wasn’t the main title. I was willing to find out how Alderson was a maverick (computers, Mr. McGuire?) but what about the subtitle, the “Revived” part?

I was intrigued by Kettmann’s choice of that R-word as the Mets gamely staggered into July -- subs, AAA players, walking wounded, veterans, a few live arms, all playing hard for Terry Collins. 

Then in a space of two weeks, darned if they were not revived, by Alderson, by Collins, by Cap’n Wright, by Cespedes, by trades and demotions and recuperations.

But you know all that. Writers care about titles -- and subtitles. I have been blessed with all-stars as book editors over the years, too numerous to mention, except for the most recent. When I was writing my soccer book, Paul Golob of Holt (working with Times Books) noticed my scattered mentions of the dictator of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, and his collaborators.  

“Don’t forget to include the dark side,” Golob suggested. I agreed, and he came up with the title: “Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer.”

As FIFA's legal charges added up, was I glad the editor had prodded me. I could go on talk shows and intone those book-writer words, “As I say in my book….” 

I knew Kettmann, based on the Left Coast, had access to Alderson from covering the Oakland A’s. I asked Kettmann how he came up with his title and subtitle and he replied:
It's funny about subtitles. We tend to think of them as nearly invisible, like the subtitle to "One Day at Fenway," my first book, which was "A Day in the Life of Baseball in America." I'm not sure a single person ever cited that subtitle or made a point of it. Then again, that was 11 years ago, long before the age of Twitter.
I spent a lot of time going over the title and subtitle for my Sandy Alderson book with Jamison Stoltz, my editor at Grove Atlantic. We thought if there was going to be controversy, it would concern the title, "Baseball Maverick," since "Maverick" is a word that can mean different things to different people.
Some, we knew, would picture Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, talking about getting all "Mavericky." But I took the title from a quote given to me by Billy Beane, which he clearly meant as a tribute to his former mentor and to me, the important meaning was the original one, going back to the rancher Samuel Maverick, who left his cattle unbranded, meaning he would end up with all unbranded cattle, and he developed a reputation (rightly or wrongly) for being a free thinker who was just a little smarter than everyone else.
As for the subtitle, I thought then and think now that it was inarguable, at least among people interested in having an actual discussion, as opposed to flinging free association at each other on the Internet in short bursts. Alderson was one of a small group that "revolutionized" baseball and, given where the Mets had been in recent seasons, no question that by 2015 the team had been "revived."
That was the consensus at baseball's annual winter meetings in December 2014, and that was my view: The Mets had too much dominant young starting pitching not to make a major leap forward, and Alderson had always said that when they had enough talent to be competitive in the postseason, they would make midseason upgrades to improve further. I could not have known the Mets would have the magical season they have, but I was sure they'd make the playoffs. I was sure they'd be playing meaningful games into October - now they might be playing them into November. 
Playing into late October, I think you would agree, qualifies as "Revived." . 

<![CDATA[This Former Met Pitcher Is Seriously Conflicted]]>Tue, 27 Oct 2015 00:32:46 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/this-former-met-pitcher-is-seriously-conflicted
Photo courtesy of Bill Wakefield
Bill Wakefield grew up in Kansas City.
Loves his home town,
The old A's, the "new" Royals.  
Pitched for the Mets in 1964.
Had a nice season, first year of Shea.


Wore No. 43 before R.A. Dickey did. 
Lives in the Bay Area. Roots for Stanford, his alma mater.

Says he will be in KC for the seventh game of the World Series. 

<![CDATA[Casey Stengel: He Called Them 'The Amazing Mets']]>Sun, 25 Oct 2015 14:10:38 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/casey-stengel-he-called-them-the-amazing-mets
Casey Stengel instructs Don Zimmer, Charlie Neal, Felix Mantilla and Gil Hodges, theoretically his starting infield, before Mets' first season, 1962. Casey was saying he expected his Amazing Mets to be contenders.
 (A decade ago, I wrote a chapter about Casey Stengel for a book named "Coach." I gave credit to Casey for giving the Mets an identity when he managed them in their first ludicrous spring of 1962. He kept waiting for The Youth of America to arrive -- and once a generation it does. He would love deGrom and Familia and Granderson. Casey is in the DNA of the franchise, forever.) 
                          The Old Man
                 by George Vecsey
          The Old Man talks to me every day, in that raspy whisky voice of his.
          He would clamp his paw on your forearm, like one of those so-called Denver Boots the police put on the tires of illegally-parked cars. You could not pry him off.
          "Wait a minute," he would bellow. "I'm trying to tell you something."
          What was Casey Stengel trying to tell us? Usually, something practical relating to baseball, but often it was about the weirdness of baseball, the intricacies of it, like life itself.
          The Old Man used to say, "Every day in baseball you see something you never saw before."
          Early in the 2004 season, on national television, Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros was pitching to Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. The broadcasters said it was the first time in baseball history that a pitcher with 300 victories had ever pitched to a slugger with 600 home runs.
          Right away I thought: "The Old Man."
          It happens a lot. A ball takes a squirrelly path, a player commits a gaffe, and I find myself muttering, "I've never quite seen that before."
          Strange things happened around Casey, and he was alive enough and alert enough to sputter or laugh about them.
          Of all the managers and coaches I've been around, Casey Stengel taught me the most. I was part of that motley band Casey called "my writers." Some of his ballplayers were wise enough to learn from him, too.
          "You knew when he was being funny," said Ron Swoboda, who played one season for Casey with the Mets, and still treasured it four decades later. "And you knew when he was serious."
          Swoboda was under no illusions, then or now. He was a raw kid with a bit of power, and he was the best Casey had. The Old Man had managed DiMaggio and Berra and Mantle, and now he had a player he called "Suh-boda."
          But somehow or other, Casey Stengel, in his four years with the dreadful Mets, performed a more amazing job than he had with the lordly Yankees. For this new franchise he created an image of lovability that has barely eroded decades later.
          Managers and coaches are often handed the burden of being role models, doing that job for the rest of society. Molding character was not exactly Casey's goal in life. He was no kindly Mister Chips. He referred to himself as "the slickest manager in baseball" - and he expected others to be slick, too.
          Ron Swoboda learned that lesson in 1965. He was a husky rookie out of Baltimore, not yet twenty-one year old, bright and outspoken, but in baseball experience still a busher.
          In an early-season game in old Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Mets had a three-run lead in the ninth. Swoboda was playing right field as the rain ended and a strong sun emerged, directly in his eyes.
          "The smart thing would have been to call time and get my sunglasses," Swoboda recalled in 2004. "But I figure, 'One more out, I can handle it.' Then Dal Maxvill hits a little flair that either would have been a single or I would have caught it, but I lose sight of it, and I have no clue how to play it, so three runs score and the game is tied.
          "I know I screwed up," Swoboda recalled, "and I come up to bat the next inning and I make out and by now I am an emotional bomb. I stomp on my old fiberglass helmet. I'm gonna crush it. But the open end is facing up, and my foot gets caught, and it closes around my foot and I'm jumping around on my other foot."
          The description from somebody in the dugout was that Swoboda resembled "a demented chicken."
          "Casey comes up the stairs like he's 25," Swoboda recalled, "and he grabs me with his good hand. He had broken his wrist that spring, and I figure he's going to hit me with his cast. He's yelling, 'When you screwed up the fly ball, I didn't go into your locker and break your watch, so don't you break the team's equipment!' Then he said, 'Go sit down!'
          "You know the movie, 'A League of Their Own,' where Tom Hanks says, 'There's no crying in baseball?' Bullshit. I sat there and cried. I figured my career was over."
          Only later did Swoboda figure out that Casey had affection for him, the way he did for a few of his brighter young players. He could be tough on the Youth of America, but he was preparing them.
          It made him nuts if ballplayers didn't listen. He loved to tell the story about when he was managing the Yankees in 1951 and escorted young Mickey Mantle out to right field before an exhibition in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Casey wanted to show Mantle the complexities of the wall, but Mantle mostly stared at him, unable to fathom that his manager had once patrolled this very field.
          "He thinks I was born old," Casey muttered to "my writers," who functioned as his Greek chorus. The writers' job was to hum appropriately when he made a good point.
          Casey's outlook was based on his experiences. He'd been to Europe and Japan before it was convenient. He was born in the late 19th Century and he still buzzes in my head early in the 21st Century.
          People said he spoke in Stengelese, a dialect straight out of Louis Carroll's Jabberwocky. Other times he spoke blunt Anglo-Saxon that had earthy folk wisdom to it.
          In his monologues, he called other people "Doctor," so we referred to him as "The Doctor." If we debated him, he would frequently say, "You're full of shit and I'll tell you why." He was the first person I remember you used the term "you asshole" as a debating point, without incurring harsh feelings - no easy trick. And when the umpires' decisions and logic went against the Mets in those early gruesome years, Casey used to say, "They screw us because we're horseshit." And he was right. The umpires did, and the Mets were. 
          He could ramble on, if he wanted to. In 1958, he captivated a Senate hearing into the fairness of baseball's anti-trust exemption, filibustering until the senators laughingly begged for mercy.
          Casey's testimony is an American classic, right up there with Nixon's Checkers speech and Marilyn Monroe singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," well worth worth seeking out with a simple Google search. Somehow, if you listened long enough, you figured it out.
          Charles Dillon Stengel (born July 30, 1890, in Kansas City, Missouri) took a circuitous route to being one of the immortal sports figures in his country. He was a quite decent outfielder in the National League and then he was burdened with the stigma of failure as a manager. In nine horrendous seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves, he never once finished in the top half of the eight-team league.
          He then managed well enough in the fast Pacific Coast League to earn the Yankees' call in 1949. Joe DiMaggio and many of the older Yankees thought he was a clown, a minor-leaguer, but he soon showed he had enough nerve to run the Yankees his way.
          "He had his funny moments with the Yankees, but he wasn't this lovable old clown, either," said Swoboda, who later became a broadcaster and a student of his sport, particularly Casey's career.
          "He was a tough old bastard," Swoboda added.
          Foisted upon the older Yankees, Stengel showed no fear of improvising and tinkering and taking command. He ran a platoon system at some positions like left field, alternating a left-handed hitter like Gene Woodling with the right-handed Hank Bauer. Neither of these crusty warhorses liked being platooned, except when they cashed their World Series check almost every autumn. He even put the great DiMaggio on first base for one game, just to prove he could.
          In World Series games, he was not afraid to go a long way with hot relief pitchers like Joe Page, or use one of his best starters, Allie Reynolds, in relief, or bring in an obscure pitcher like Bob Kuzava in a tight situation. He was utterly fearless, and he answered to no one.
          His main disciple with the Yankees was a scrappy little infielder named Billy Martin, who had known Stengel back in the Pacific Coast League.
          "I love that old man with the ball in his sock," Martin would say, referring to a lump on Casey's ankle, a souvenir from having been hit by a taxi one rainy night in Boston. (One columnist nominated the cabby as the man who did the most for Boston sports that year.)
          Martin loved Casey right up to the moment Martin was involved in a brawl in a nightclub, the Copacabana, along with several more valuable Yankees. The Yankees' front office traded Martin away, but Martin blamed Casey and did not talk to him for a decade. 
          There was very little parental about Casey Stengel. Casey and his wife, Edna Lawson Stengel, did not have children, for reasons only they knew. People did not discuss such things back then. She had been an actress in New York, but they settled near her affluent banking family in Glendale, California. I remember her as willowy, cultured and friendly, a grand old lady in my youthful eyes, and formidable enough to deflate some of Casey's bluster.
          I encountered Casey during his last pennant run in 1960. I was twenty years old, just graduating from Hofstra College, and my boss at Newsday, Jack Mann, thought it was time for me to cover my first major-league game up at Yankee Stadium.
          It was a day game, and by 11 AM, Casey was chattering to the writers in the dugout, blending tales from the olden days with fresh insights into the previous night's game. He was in the process of moving Clete Boyer into the regular lineup at third base, benching the veteran Gil McDougald, and he discussed it at great lengths, with apologies to nobody.
          The pre-game drill is very different today in the age of the microphone and the camera and the tight security. Joe Torre conducts a useful 15-minute update to the media swarm before the game, seated in the dugout while the Yankee Stadium sound system blares its inanities.
          Back then, Casey held court. On my first day covering the Yankees, I was so fascinated with him that I sat in the dugout and gaped, not noticing that I was the only writer left.
          Finally Casey turned to me and said, "Young man, you'll have to leave now because otherwise I'll have to put you in the starting lineup." It was about five minutes to game time.
          His action revealed the essential Stengel. He could have made me feel like an idiot for staying too long, but he let me off the hook with a joke. He was not like some managers then and now who delight in bullying a newcomer. He saved his best stuff for his bosses, or his stars, or lions of the media like Dick Young or Howard Cosell, or critics like Jackie Robinson.
          (Robinson - who had been the favorite player in my Dodger-centric household - criticized Stengel in his Mets years, saying Casey tended to snooze in the dugout. "Tell Robi'son he's Chock Full of Nuts," Stengel blurted, aptly referring to the coffee company Robinson had represented.)
          Most of the Yankees kept their distance, judging Casey as one lucky eccentric to be able to manage the Berras, Fords and Mantles.
          Casey would not win a popularity contest in his clubhouse. Clete Boyer will never forget kneeling in the on-deck circle in the second inning of the first game of the 1960 World Series.
          Then he heard the Old Man shout, "Hold the gun!" Casey was sending up Dale Long to hit for Boyer, because the Yankees had fallen behind, 3-1, and had two runners on base. The Old Man's move was not only unorthodox, it was cold.
          The Yankees lost that Series in seven games, and Stengel was blasted for not starting his ace, Whitey Ford, until the third game. Ford wound up pitching two shutouts, in the third and sixth games, and critics said he theoretically could have pitched three times if he had opened the Series.
          The Yankees dismissed Casey immediately after the Series. He said he would never again make the mistake of turning seventy.
          On his body of work -- ten pennants and seven World Championships in twelve seasons with the Yankees -- Stengel was now one of the great managers in baseball history. He could have stomped off to California and lived very nicely representing his brother-in-law's banks.
          However, he was not ready for the civilian world. He still needed "the baseball business" at least as much as it needed him. He was saving up a last act as manager that was, in its own way, more spectacular than his time with the Yankees.
          Casey returned to Yankee Stadium in the fall of 1961 to attend a World Series game with the Cincinnati Reds. I remember the buzz as he strode through the cheering crowd of New Yorkers, his formerly gray hair now shockingly reddish. (Milton Gross of the New York Post referred to Casey as "Bixby," the name of a shoe polish of the distant past.)
          New York got Casey back in 1962, after the New York Mets had been formed in an expansion draft.
          There had been a terrible gap in New York after the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the Giants moved to San Francisco after the 1957 season. There was nothing like today's glut of televised games and sports highlight shows to keep up with Mays, Clemente, Aaron and Robinson.
          In 1962, the National League stars were coming back to New York to play the Mets, who included some of the worst culls and rejects from other farm systems. Would haughty New York tolerate a dismal baseball team? That was why the man with the rubbery face and the equally flexible syntax had been brought back from California.
          "There was a huge longing for National League ball," Swoboda said. "Casey bought time by taking advantage of this."
          Casey's job was to teach baseball, win a game here and there, entertain desperate New Yorkers and sell some tickets. He tried the flim-flam approach at times. Dismissing a young pitcher during spring training of 1962, Casey said the Mets wanted to compete for the pennant and could not afford inexperienced players.
          This was pure poppycock. Most of the time, Stengel caustically referred to how "the attendance got trimmed," meaning, in his lexicon, that the paying customers had been short-changed.
          Casey also fought publicly with his general manager, George M. Weiss, who had been his boss with the Yankees and had now rescued him from enforced retirement. Casey probably was grateful. But whenever the frugal Weiss tried to retain a player in whom he had invested a few dollars, Stengel thundered that the player was "a fraud."
I can picture him naked, a tough old bird in his early seventies, his Mets uniform lying discarded on the floor of his office, while he pounded his burly chest and proclaimed the entire franchise was "a fraud."
          Casey was doing something no other man in "the baseball business" had ever done - he was managing and performing vaudeville at the same time. He was creating a personality for a bad baseball team in the toughest market in the country. He was inventing the New York Mets on the fly.
          "He sacrificed some of his legend to keep the media and the fans from turning on the team," Swoboda said.
          At the same time, Casey was talking baseball to the fans, the writers and the players.
          "Why wouldn't ya wanna..?" was Casey's Socratic prelude to a lecture about some nuance of his business.
          The writers and fans tended to get more out of Casey than many of his players. Casey discovered this one day during batting practice when he was delivering a lecture on the batting technique he called "the butcher boy" -- chopping downward to knock the ball through a hole in the infield.
          Casey looked around at the blank looks of his own players. Then he spotted one pair of alert, intelligent eyes watching his every move, absorbing his every word.
          Unfortunately, those eyes belonged to Maury Wills, the shortstop for the Dodgers, the Mets' opponent later in the day. Wills had already won one World Series in 1959 with his resourcefulness, and was not above eavesdropping on Casey's seminar. Needless to say, the Old Man did not run Wills off. He was a baseball man, teaching baseball.
          Some Mets appreciated him. One was Richie Ashburn, the feisty old center fielder who ran into walls, fought with umpires, batted .306 and brought out the humorous side of an itinerant first baseman named Marvelous Marv Throneberry, who became the personification of the Mets - inept, but also comical. Ashburn hated to lose, and he understood that the Old Man did, too. Nobody blamed him when he bailed for a broadcasting job after one season.
          Another player who totally got Casey was Rod Kanehl, a vagabond utility player whom Casey had once noticed years earlier at the Yankees' minor-league complex. Casey kept him around the Mets for three seasons because Kanehl hustled and would play any position (seven, ultimately). Kanehl also took up Casey's standing offer of $50 for getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
          A Midwesterner like Stengel, Kanehl felt the same fascination with the big city that Stengel once had. As a young Dodger, Stengel had enticed teammates into the rudimentary subway system, blithely losing them and forcing them to find their way back to their hotel. Kanehl also acted as subway tour guide to other Mets, who called him "The Mole." Kanel absorbed Casey's wisdom; he just didn't have enough talent to execute the lessons.
          Casey did not escape criticism. In addition to the old sleeping-in-the-dugout charge - why wouldn't you want to snooze out of sheer escapism? - Casey was said to confuse players' identities. One former Met has said that Casey once ordered "Blanchard" to pinch-hit and that the coaches had to tactfully tell Casey that Johnny Blanchard was still employed across the Harlem River with the Yankees. More likely, Casey just mixed up names. He had two pitchers named Bob Miller that first season, so he called one of them "Nelson," either by design or accident. 
          A nap or a wrong name didn't matter much. The Mets won 40 games and lost 120 in that first season, with two games mercifully rained out.
          Casey was managing the worst team in the history of baseball. "You could look it up," Casey often said, a phrase he either borrowed from Ring Lardner, or Ring Lardner borrowed from him.
          One catch phrase for that 1962 Mets team was created by a boisterous raconteur with a gift for language. I am speaking here not of Casey Stengel but of Jimmy Breslin.
          A gifted writer from New York, Breslin showed up on assignment from Sports Illustrated one hot, humid July weekend of 1962. The Mets threw a seventy-second birthday party for Casey in the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel, then the garden spot of St. Louis. (The headwaiter had once pitched batting practice before Cardinals' games; Casey treated him like an equal, even imitating his pitching form.)
          Casey spent the reception standing up, drink in hand, commenting on the multi-ineptitudes of his team. Blessed with youthful kidneys, I stayed by his elbow the entire evening.
          A year later, a Breslin book came out, entitled "Can't Anyone Here Play This Game?" a plea ostensibly uttered by Casey during his long monologue that evening in St. Louis.
          Not long afterward, Breslin called me for a phone number or something and at the end I said, "Jimmy, just curious, I was at that party for Casey, never left his side, and I don't remember him ever saying, 'Can't anyone here play this game?'"
          Long pause.
          "What are you, the F.B.I?" Breslin asked.
          Breslin has since admitted he just might have exercised some creative license. Casey never complained about being misquoted. He would have said it if he had thought of it.
          I stuck as close as possible to Casey those years. I wasn't looking for a parent or a mentor but I think I was just wise enough to know I would never meet anybody like him again.
          There have been entire volumes devoted to those wonderful early days of Casey and the Mets. (I wrote one myself, long out of print, entitled "Joy in Mudville.") If I could distill the entire four years into one madcap experience, it would be the night of May 4, 1964, in Milwaukee.
          By this time, the Mets were marginally better, partially because Casey had spotted a scrappy second baseman named Ron Hunt in spring training of 1963, and installed him at the top of the lineup. On this nippy night in Milwaukee, Hunt tried to score with two outs in the ninth, but was tagged out at home in a rough collision. Then he and the catcher, Ed Bailey, began to mix it up, as both teams milled around home plate.
          In the midst of the scrum, a Milwaukee infielder named Denis Menke felt a pair of powerful arms trying to pry him away from the plate. Menke shrugged the man loose. Then he looked down at his assailant and saw the Mount Rushmore profile of the Mets' manager, tangled in a bunch of legs. Menke envisioned the next day's front page: "Menke Kills Casey Stengel," and helped pick up the Old Man, who was still sputtering.
          After order was restored, Casey totally denied having been anywhere near the fight. However, a couple of his players raved about the combativeness of the Old Man. Casey's story was discredited when he stripped to take a shower, revealing a few new bruises and scrapes.
          After getting tossed around like that, most seventy-three-year-old men might retire to their hotel room and take a long hot bath. Casey went out drinking with his writers. We found some bar, where Casey gave a vivid imitation of a tornado that hit Milwaukee twenty years earlier, his battered body getting blown across the bar room by the imaginary high winds.
          When the bar closed, eight of us found a rib joint, which turned out to be the hangout of a motorcycle gang. At first, I was a little concerned we might be in for trouble, until one of the cyclists spotted Casey and came over with his girl friend, who appeared to be sixteen years old, and respectfully asked for an autograph.
          Casey, who had gotten bored with his writers, now engaged the motorcyclists in a debate over whether the Braves were willing to trade their brilliant but aging shortstop, Roy McMillan.
          "Now, you want to give me McMillan, who is thirty-three, and we don't know if he can throw. Then who do you want, Hook?"
          (Jay Hook was a sweet Northwestern graduate with advanced degrees in physics, who could explain why a curveball curved, but could not throw one.)
          "Hook has won a lot of games for me and he has a lovely family," Casey told the motorcyclists. "Edna says I can't trade him. Would you like to talk to Edna for me?"
          Casey and the cyclists talked baseball for about an hour or so, until the writers began falling asleep on the bar.
          The next morning I dragged myself down to the coffee shop around nine o'clock. There was the Old Man, finishing a full breakfast, talking baseball with the customers.
          As I think about Casey these days, I am struck by the vast amount of alcohol consumed by him and his traveling chorus. Alcohol had no hold over me but in those days you drank to be sociable. I had not yet figured out that you can sip a club soda and lime rather than a scotch and soda, and will feel much better the next morning.
          Casey used to say, "Whiskey makes you sick when you're well -- and well when you're sick,"
          He also had an expression for people who lost their composure when they drank too much: "Whiskey-slick." Even with his amazing constitution, Casey could become garrulous or argumentative, might need a friendly arm to get him from the taxi to the hotel elevator.
          Having a lot of friends who are alcoholics, recovering or otherwise, I would say that Casey was nowhere near the state of powerlessness that defines alcoholism. The Old Man surely drank a bit, but at the same time he was skillfully ducking or answering questions from his writers.
          He kept up his guard, but occasionally you would see a glimpse of emotion. Casey had a great deal of respect for Fred Hutchinson, the burly manager of the Reds, who had once battled the Yankees as a pitcher with the Tigers. I will never forget Casey shuddering when he spotted his friend and rival, emaciated from cancer, being taken around the ballpark on a golf cart in 1964. There was no joking from the Old Man that day. The next year, Hutchinson was dead.
          That same spring Casey broke a wrist when he slipped on a wet patch during an exhibition game. Then, late at night on July 25, 1965, Casey fell and broke his hip, and needed an artificial ball inserted in his hip socket. On August 30, he called a press conference to say he would resume managing but would not return the following season. At that conference, he horrified Edna by abruptly crossing one leg over another to demonstrate what a good job the surgeons had done.
          "Casey!" she blurted, the way wives will.
          They stayed home in Glendale after 1965, although Casey was a fixture every spring training in Florida. My daughter, now a sports columnist with the Baltimore Sun, can recall being a little girl, sitting on a bar stool at the old Colonial Inn at St. Petersburg Beach, holding a ginger ale and chatting with that nice old couple, Casey and Edna.
          In 1969, Casey was around to celebrate the Mets' improbable World Championship, with Gil Hodges now the manager. Ron Swoboda, the Youth of America, made an epic diving catch in right field to help win one game.  
          The final years were not kind. One season Casey visited the Mets and confided that Edna was fine -- "from the neck down," meaning her wit and reason were gone.
          Casey died in 1975 and Edna lived three years longer. I see them every day. My wife has made a large montage of our family photographs and she included a photo of Casey and Edna circa 1965, in a hansom cab, he doffing a top hat, she chucking him under the chin, a striking mixture of aging prophet and ageless beauty.
          To this day, when I am taking an iconoclastic stance in my column, I remember asking the Old Man why he was not afraid.
          "I can make a living telling the truth," he would bellow. 
          I think of him every day.

               *       *     *
George Vecsey, former sports columnist with the New York Times, covered his first Yankee game in 1960, a month before his 21st birthday. He is the author of over a dozen books, including, "Joy in Mudville," a history of the Mets, published in 1970, with Casey Stengel as its central figure.
 COACH: 25 Writers Reflect on People Who Made a Difference (Warner Books, 2005) 
Edited by Andrew Blauner
Foreword by Bill Bradley

Preface by David Duchovny
(Reproduced here with permission of Andrew Blauner)  
<![CDATA[David Wright of Mets Is an Old-Fashioned Activist Captain ]]>Thu, 22 Oct 2015 12:58:09 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/david-wright-is-an-old-fashioned-activist-captain
Two Faces in Wrigley Wednesday Night.
The saddest sight I have seen in a ball park in a long time was the Cub fans in Wrigley Wednesday night.

They know the team lore; their hopes were raised a year ahead of schedule; and the Mets just crushed the home team. They took it with civility and grief, not with anger.

The Cubs had run into a team from nowhere, with all the changes in late July and early August. Now Cubs’ fans, all National League fans, better face the reality that the four starting pitchers are just coming into their own, barring more injuries, with Zach Wheeler due back next year.

For the present, there was a constant in the Mets’ coup de grace in Wrigley – David Wright, the captain.

Mendel, the thoughtful writer who regularly graces these Comments, watched Wright conducting interviews on the field, eloquent and positive, and asked me if team captains were always that verbal.

My answer is, Wright, the son of a police officer,is an unusual blend of positive attitude and belief in process. He has remained youthful in his way. He is a leader. It was a thrill to see Wright come back from injury and the diagnosis of spinal stenosis to make plays like the one Wednesday when he swooped in, picked up a roller and beat the batter by half a step – the split-second play that helps win games, and pennants.

Afterward, Wright spoke of teamwork, and fulfilling nearly a decade of hopes of fans and players. He has been special since he arrived in 2006. I remember Cliff Floyd, just passing through the Mets, raving about Wright as the future of the franchise, making it easy for the kid to fit in.

We've had some great captains in New York. I still call Willis Reed "Cap'n" when I see him; he was the heart of the Knicks. (The Yankees had a triumvirate of Jeter and Rivera and Posada – the unsung sergeant at arms, the dean of discipline.) They didn’t talk as much about the dynamics. 

Wright is his own blend of  verbal attention to teamwork and activist monitoring of the clubhouse. The night Wilmer Flores cried, Wright and Michael Cuddyer followed Flores into the clubhouse to sort out the rumors. Leadership.

When I was a kid in the late 40's and 50's, ball players were not nearly as media savvy. Also, they were not pressed for interviews long before the current era of twitters and sound bites. Two great captains in baseball were Terry Moore of the Cardinals and Pee Wee Reese of the Dodgers -- teams that hated each other in ways we cannot imagine today.  

On a train ride in the last hectic week of 1941, Moore sidled up to a kid just up from the minors who was winning games as the Cardinals tried (in vain) to catch the Dodgers. Who are you? Moore asked in a parlor car. (Nobody in the St. Louis press bothered to write about the kid.)

The kid said he was the bad-arm lefty who had given up a homer to Moore in a spring workout that March. Moore learned his name: Stan Musial. They became fast friends.

The Dodgers of the same era had Harold (Pee Wee) Reese from Louisville, Ky. He (and a few others) set the right tone for Jackie Robinson's debut and Reese had a light but serious presence in the clubhouse.

In the mid-1950's, The Cap’n spotted young Gino Cimoli dressed and heading for the door shortly after a game.

"Gino, if you're in a rush to get out of the clubhouse, you're in a rush to get out of baseball,” Reese said. Cimoli sat down, and talked baseball. 

Wright is in that mold. Remember last March when he saw young Noah Syndegaard chowing down lunch in the clubhouse during an exhibition. Wright told him to get out there on the bench. To make the point, Bobby Parnell picked up Syndegaard’s lunch and deposited it in the trash barrel. That would be the same Syndegaard leading the league in 98-mph pitches as the Mets rush into the Series.

Here’s Tim Rohan’s article from last March:

Terry Moore and Pee Wee Reese would appreciate this modern verbal captain at work. 
<![CDATA[Public Panel About USA-USSR Sports Rivalry, Cold War: ]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2015 14:33:03 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/public-panel-about-usa-ussr-sports-rivalry-cold-war
Rehearsal for Opening Ceremony, Goodwill Games, Moscow, 1986. White Nights, Early July, Anthem, Stadium at Luzhniki.
Just a Reminder: 

Friday, Oct. 23:
 I will be part of a panel “Selling Sport in the Cold War,” free to the public, 4:30 PM to 7 PM, at New York University’s Casa Italiana, 24 W. 12th St., New York, NY 10011. Panel members include: Amy Bass of The College of New Rochelle, Jeremy Schaap of ESPN and David McDonald of the University of Wisconsin. This is part of a two-day conference, The Global History of Sport in the Cold War, at NYU, Friday and Saturday. (Other events limited in space.)  I was privileged to cover the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986 and Seattle in 1990 and often wrote about sport in the old Soviet bloc.) For information:


<![CDATA[Why One Mets Fan Cannot Work Up Disdain for the Cubs ]]>Sun, 18 Oct 2015 15:10:09 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/why-one-mets-fan-cannot-work-up-disdain-for-the-cubs
Ernie Banks Loved the Ivy on the Wall
The Cubs have all those good young players, a really cool manager, and No. 14 on their jerseys.

This is Ernie Banks’ team.
He died in January. (See Rich Goldstein’s lovely obituary.)

This is where I came in, boy reporter for Newsday, first swing into Chicago in 1962. It was cold.

During batting practice, Ernie Banks wandered over to greet the Youngs and Langs and Kremenkos he knew from the old eight-team National League.

He spotted some new boys and launched the old soft-shoe:

“Welcome to Wrigley Field, the friendly confines, the only ball park in the majors with no night games. This evening on the six o’clock news, they’ll say, ‘In the only game in the majors this afternoon….’ Look at the ivy on the wall. Baseball. It’s a lovely day for a ball game. Let’s play two.”

I can recall it pretty much verbatim because I would hear it many times in that decade. It was Ernie’s brand. He came out of the Negro Leagues, helped blaze the trail, learned to live in this crazy world -- warm smile, informed patter, who knew what behind the alert survivor eyes.  

He remembered names and faces. Every time I landed a Wrigley run – day games, evenings on Rush Street – he would wander over and I would request a helping of “Let’s Play Two.” He would never fail. I cannot imagine prodding any other major-leaguer to perform shtick for me.

The Mets and Cubs were joined at the hip, one an expansion franchise, one a bumbler by habit.
The Mets would win 40 and lose 120, the Worst Team in the History of Baseball.
The Cubs could screw up anything. That kid Brock in left field would never make it.

One night in the rusty old Polo Grounds, the Cubs and Mets were staggering into extra innings. I heard a fan announce to his friends, “I hate to go – but I hate to stay.” That pretty much sums up both teams.

In 1964, on a glorious afternoon in Wrigley, the young reporters were taking the sun behind the Mets’ dugout. (There was no freaking tweeting in those Good Old Days; you watched a game and you wrote about it.)

My buddy Joe Christopher – we’re still in touch -- spotted us in the stands and wiggled his ears prodigiously every time he jogged in from right field.

Hot Rod Kanehl emerged from the dugout and spotted us. When the Mets went ahead, 13-1, in the seventh, we asked Rod if the game was a laugher. Not yet, Rod proclaimed.

However, when they scored six in the ninth, Rod popped out again and gave it the Casey Stengel wink and proclaimed, “It’s a laugher.”

After the game, reporters took the team bus back to the hotel. By some bizarre circumstance, Ernie Banks got stuck in traffic right next to me. I opened the window and posed the question: “Let’s play two?”

Ernie smiled and said – sweetly -- “Aw, shut up.” Traffic cleared. He drove on.

Bill Wakefield, who spent the afternoon taking the rays in the bullpen (Jack Fisher went nine) recalled the other day:
“At a restaurant afterwards. ‘We scored 19 runs in the sun today.’ Return question: ‘Did you win?’”
Reasonable question.

I don’t care about the Cubs’ complexes. Don’t care about no 1908 or weenie billy-goat curse or black cat or Durocher absence from the dugout or Durham bobble or Bartman interference. Mets’ fans have our own mishegoss. Then again, the Mets have won four pennants and two World Series. Just saying.

These Cubs are wearing Ernie Banks’s No. 14.
Let’s play two.

<![CDATA[I Will Be Out in Public Twice in the Next Week]]>Sat, 17 Oct 2015 15:20:09 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/i-will-be-out-in-public-twice-in-the-next-week
Tamara Bykova, Soviet high jumper, left. (You guessed that.) Yogi Berra, Yankee catcher, right. I wrote about both.
Monday Oct. 19:  I’ll take part in a forum about Yogi Berra at, where else, the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center at Montclair State University in New Jersey, 7 PM. Other panelists:  two esteemed colleagues from the Times: Pulitzer-Prize winning Dave Anderson plus Harvey Araton, a/k/a the Rebbe of Roundball and chronicler of Yogi. Admission: $10. For information:


Friday, Oct. 23: I will be part of a panel “Selling Sport in the Cold War,” free to the public, 4:30 PM to 7 PM, at New York University’s Casa Italiana, 24 W. 12th St., New York, NY 10011. Panel members include: Amy Bass of The College of New Rochelle, Jeremy Schaap of ESPN and David McDonald of the University of Wisconsin. This is part of a two-day conference, The Global History of Sport in the Cold War, at NYU, Friday and Saturday. (Other events limited in space.)  I was privileged to cover the Goodwill Games in Moscow in 1986 and Seattle in 1990 and often wrote about sport in the old Soviet bloc.) For information:


<![CDATA[Never Thought Mets Could Win Out There]]>Fri, 16 Oct 2015 12:36:25 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/never-thought-mets-could-win-out-there
Mets Fans Give Terry Collins a Lot of Love
Random Thoughts From a Very Tense Evening:
I’ve been a huge fan of Jacob deGrom since he came up. He is always smiling in the dugout, connecting with his teammates, the center of things. I love his whippy delivery and his competitiveness, but I didn’t think he could win twice in Chávez Ravine against the pitchers Terry Collins respectfully called “those animals.”
So deGrom did win. He pitched six of the gutsiest innings you will ever see, getting by with whatever he could find in the tool box. It was one of the great games ever pitched by a Met because of what was at stake.
Four of their regulars remained in their slumps, more or less, but Travis d’Arnaud contributed a run-scoring fly, and Lucas Duda wangled a walk that led to Daniel Murphy’s alert steal of an unoccupied third base.
Murphy had an epic game. I’ve been reading he’s gone after this season because his contract is up. Maybe his defensive liabilities make him an American League player. I’ve used the word “klutz.” But I got an email Friday morning from my Yankee pal Big Al comparing Murphy to Billy Martin and Hank Bauer from the era that still gives me nightmares.
Murphy is a gamer. Keep him. Let him grow old, ungracefully. Let Cespedes make his nine figures elsewhere. He is 30 and does not know how to make contact with runners in scoring position.
I forgot that Terry Collins was a coach with Jim Leyland in 1992, when the Pittsburgh Pirates lost a heart-breaker to the Braves, as two more stars were packed and ready to leave. End of an era that never quite happened. On Friday night, Collins out-managed Don Mattingly. Donnie Baseball was a better hitter. Irrelevant now.
We had four people connected via smart phones Thursday night – CA upstate listening to the radio, Laura in town, me in front of the tube, and a nameless bloke keeping track at work. I probably should scrub some of the comments we made when Collins brought in Familia to start the eighth. The big gentle guy got six outs. I take it all back about totally breaking patterns for a closer. When it was over, CA texted: “Pipe Down!” How did she know?
Never thought the Mets could win out there, but they did. Today is a rest day. 
<![CDATA[The Heir of Quakers, Who Kept His Country Safe]]>Wed, 14 Oct 2015 18:14:00 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/the-heir-of-quakers-who-kept-his-country-safe
Harold Grundy, Greenland. Courtesy, Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum, Bowdoin College.
Harold Grundy moved around a lot. Building things.

His family knew he went to Greenland and Africa and Guantanamo Bay and other places around the world.

Now 93, Harold Grundy -- my wife’s uncle – is being honored with an exhibition of 193 of his photos, “Cold War in a Cold Climate,” at Bowdoin College.

Raised in the tradition of the Rogerene Quakers of Eastern Connecticut, the eight Grundy siblings did not smoke or drink and ate mostly farm food; five are still alive, 89 to 96.\

During World War Two, Harold joined the merchant marines, loading ammunition during four Pacific invasions and three typhoons with 90-foot waves. His sector of the convoy was called Coffin Corner.

When he came home to Maine, Harold supervised construction and maintenance in some of the hot spots in the world.  He spent several years at the base at Greenland where radar was pointed directly at the Soviet Union. There was a 1,000-foot tower he had to climb periodically to make sure it was safe.

Later he spent time at Guantanamo Bay, supervising a desalinization plant for the American enclave, and lived in Pennsylvania, supervising the shield for the nuclear plant at Three Mile Island. We have family near there; don’t worry, he said; he made sure the concrete exceeded standards.
                                    *          *          *
My wife and I recently drove up to Bath, Maine, where Uncle Harold is mourning his lovely wife Barbara, his companion for seven decades, who passed last Dec. 14.

Barbara lived much of her life on the same street where she was born, within view of the Kennebec River. Harold came to Bath for a construction job in 1941, dredging a 50-foot channel so new destroyers could glide down to the ocean.

Barbara suffered from childhood diabetes and degenerative arthritis but she always worked, and sometimes traveled with Harold to exotic places. She had every joint replaced in time, but they would take off on a two-month drive to the west coast and back – half gypsies, half homebodies.

Their only child, Roger, was shot up flying a helicopter in Vietnam, came home and died in a car wreck a few months later. Several of Roger’s friends act as surrogate sons.

One of the friends is Eric Johnson, whose father, Sam Johnson, ran the Chicago Bridge and Iron company, dispatching Harold around the globe to solve construction emergencies.

Sam Johnson paid for Barbara’s operations over the years. In their retirement, Harold and Barbara started a woodworking shop, just for fun. Later they turned the business over to Eric, who produces thousands of wooden items. (Anybody with a work bench will have trouble resisting the on-line catalogue.)

In her final years, Barbara helped Harold put together a booklet of his career and their travels.. After she passed, he asked Bowdoin in nearby Brunswick if it was interested in the Greenland photos; the curators at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum eagerly accepted, putting them on display in Hubbard Hall on the beautiful campus. Much of the family attended a reception on Sept. 19.

Among those attending was Harold’s very accomplished nephew Paul Grundy, M.D., another world traveler who is IBM's Global Director of Healthcare Transformation. Paul said his dad, Elwin, registered as a conscientious objector early in the war and was used in a starvation project  that caused many of his teeth to fall out.

We got to Maine in October and Harold gave us a tour of the exhibit -- stories about the Eskimos who had rights to visit the base, how the Americans, who lived six to a hut, arranged hoods around their heads so they would not freeze outdoors. He remembered the perils of landing near an Arctic mountain; the rare home leaves. Once the radar went down for a few weeks but two other posts readjusted their signals to keep track of the Soviets.
We drove up the coast to visit Aunt Peggy Sukeforth (an in-law of the great Clyde Sukeforth) ; saw the sign Morris Povich (yes, that Povich family) on a clothing store in downtown Bath; saw the three shifts at the Bath Iron Works, still pointing ships toward the sea.

Harold told us stories about the four Pacific Landings, how a buddy sneaked him on a reconnaissance flight at Iwo Jima. Once he delivered a car to General MacArthur, who shook his hand. Once in London he and a pal went sight-seeing at 10 Downing Street; Winston Churchill happened to arrive, waving the V-for-victory sign and shaking the hands of the two Yanks. Omce a young senator from Massachusetts sat next to Harold in a Boston train station; John F. Kennedy confided he was planning to run for President.

Harold has been interviewed for several documentaries, including one by Ken Burns.

On our last evening in Bath, Uncle Harold served us lobster chowder he had made, making sure I had doubles, with crackers. The chowder was wonderful, almost as wonderful as the modest stories of his glorious American life.  
Kennebec River Behind Harold Grundy's Home. He Dredged It 1941-42, Photo/George Vecsey
Harold in Museum, Bowdoin College
Harold Grundy, Peggy Sukeforth, Penobscot Narrows Bridge, Bucksport, Maine.
<![CDATA[NY Times Had Great Weekend; So Did Mets -- 'Til Utley ]]>Sat, 10 Oct 2015 17:05:26 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/what-team-had-a-great-night-on-friday
The Mets opened their series in Los Angeles Friday night and beat one of the best pitchers in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, with David Wright earning a 12-pitch walk in the first and then driving in two vital runs in the seventh. But you already know that.

(The Mets then got upended, in more ways than one, Saturday night. Plenty of opinions on that slide by Utley. See Comments below, and please add your own. But first, let's talk about the "paper" that made deadline two straight evenings with crazy stuff from LA.) 

The other team that had a great night on Friday was New York Times, which delivered 115,000 copies of the paper, the version you can hold in one hand while eating a bagel with the other hand.

That paper was in my driveway in a nearby suburb at 7:30 AM – not bad for a game that ended after midnight. Tim Rohan, out in Los Angeles, completed his very readable article in a hurry and sent it to my friends in the Sports Department, who shaped it and sent it to the plant in College Point, Queens, where people were waiting for it.

We got it at 1:15. On presses at 1:26
Overall, 98% on time, one late NJ truck by 3 mins. 

That was my note from one of my friends in the handsome plant alongside the Whitestone Expressway. 
The Times is doing quite well with its print edition, as other papers basically give up.

The coup on Friday night/Saturday morning reminds me of a similar night, Oct. 14-15, 1992, when Francisco Cabrera, an obscure Atlanta Brave, delivered the hit that won the National League pennant (and broke the hearts of a Pirate team about to be atomized by free agency.)

In the midnight hour, I found Cabrera in the melee on the field and rushed upstairs to write a column with a headline: His Name Is Francisco Cabrera.

A few hours later, I caught the first thing smoking, and was back in my driveway before noon. The paper was waiting for me. The column was in print.

I love the Web. I’m poking around on it all day. It’s the future. The Times does spectacular things on line. I also love print.

Look at the front page of the Sports Section Saturday – huge picture of Jacob deGrom, locks flopping, fastball flying, story by Tim Rohan, and below that two more excellent articles by esteemed colleagues -- Chicharito of Mexico by the Europe-based Sam Borden and the wretched sightlines at the hockey opener at the Barclays Center by Filip Bondy, recently departed from the fading Daily News, now doing the occasional piece for the Times.

The Mets would come back out and play again Saturday night. So would the Times. As one of my great bosses, Joe Vecchione, said a few minutes after the Times revamped in minutes on Mookie Night in 1986:

“We do it every day, Kid.” 

<![CDATA[Trump Is the New Joey Nichols]]>Wed, 07 Oct 2015 22:57:33 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/trump-is-the-new-joey-nichols
Trump is slipping, exposed as the buffoon he is. As I watched him fall apart in front of our eyes, I kept trying to remember who he reminded me of.

Then it came to me -- right after Trump went along with the bigot at the rally who proclaimed President Obama is a Muslim. Whereas John McCain summoned up his dignified side in 2008 when the woman in red pulled that stuff, Trump chortled with glee. 

My thoughts turned to young Alvy Singer in the movie "Annie Hall." The little boy puts up with a bumptious friend of his father's, just long enough, and then he turns away, muttering the famous phrase.

Enjoy the video. 
<![CDATA[Will There Be Any Baseball in New York in Late October?]]>Mon, 05 Oct 2015 14:07:24 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/will-there-be-any-baseball-in-new-york-in-late-october
Yanks not the same without Teixeira. Mets miss their gun of August.
Pardon the New York-centric take on the post-season baseball, but we’d better do this fast, inasmuch as I don’t see the Mets and Yankees playing a Subway Series.
The Yankees look tattered as they prepare for their wild-card match with Houston on Tuesday.
They are not the same without Mark Teixeira. Beltran and A-Rod gave it their best shot.
This is not wishful thinking on my part. I would never do such a thing.
The Mets are not the same, either. This was evident in the last few weeks of the regular season. National League pitchers were going outside on Yoenis Cespedes. Then a little more outside. Then way outside. And he kept swinging. Those guys in the stands taking notes were sending emails to the home office confirming what the American League already knew; this guy can be pitched to.
But what a wonderful run it was.
Mets fans need to thank Terry Collins and worthies like Granderson and Wright and Familia and the pitchers, young and old. It was fun. May still be fun for a while.
Meantime, the Mets won the duel of the general managers. in their division. Sandy Alderson made a prophet out of my friend Steve Kettmann, who wrote a book called “Baseball Maverick” with the daring subtitle: “How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets.” Seemed like over-reaching in March. Turned out to be correct.
The Mets fans should also thank Mike Rizzo, the general manager of the Nationals, who did not dismiss Matt Williams in mid-season when it was clear, absolutely clear, that the Nats were less than the sum of their parts.
The Mets could still have some retro fun in October but they need to hang onto those 45 days from Alderson's grand revival at the trading deadline.  
<![CDATA[The Emu Lied to Me. It's Not an Ostrich]]>Sun, 04 Oct 2015 13:27:57 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/the-emu-lied-to-me-its-not-an-ostrich
Ostrich, left, has two toes. Emu, center, has three toes. Bird on our deck has three toes. That's really all I know.
The statue swore to me that it was an ostrich, but Brian Savin wondered if it was an emu.
I looked it up. Emus have three toes and ostriches have two toes. (Ostriches are also bigger. Who knew?)


The bird my wife found at Home Goods has three toes. 

Both birds' meat is red rather than white.  At first, I thought maybe the emu was claiming it was an ostrich to avoid being eaten, but apparently both are eaten.   
Either way, the bird on our back deck took a fearsome barrage of acorns in recent days.
We will take it  inside for the winter, along with the stork and the penguin, also from Home Goods. 
<![CDATA[Before the Hurricane, We Are Already Blasted -- by Acorns]]>Thu, 01 Oct 2015 13:10:42 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/before-the-hurricane-we-are-already-blasted-by-acorns
The ostrich is unscathed -- but every acorn represents a concussion right over our heads.
We are waiting for Hurricane Joaquin on Long Island, but meantime we are being blasted by the worst barrage of acorns I can remember.

I know, if we lived in the city, it would be car horns and construction noise. But this is like nothing I have ever heard.

The massive oaks over our heads are dropping acorns, which clatter on first impact and then skitter all the way down the roof and land with a thud on the deck.

Why this year? Is it another sign of the Apocalypse -- like the joker with the orange mop braying at us?

Nobody around here remembers such a crop of acorns. I went to the Web and came up with an article that said acorns are not necessarily cyclical – or even a direct reaction to drought or dampness – but rather an intricate computer-tree response to predators. Very impressive.


If I read this right, oaks drop their seeds (noisy little missiles) in years when birds and squirrels and other perceived threats are least hungry. This gives seeds a chance to survive – in lawns, flower beds and open space.

There are worse things to worry about right now, but meantime, a few feet over our heads, the acorns are obeying the law of gravity.

Now if the oaks stay put during Joaquin….                                        
<![CDATA[Blatter and Neymar Jr: Fantasy About Two Slippery Guys]]>Mon, 28 Sep 2015 18:27:45 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/blatter-and-neymar-jr-fantasy-about-two-slippery-guys
Blatter in the bunker, preparing for solitary? Neymar modelling for stripes? Just another day in FIFA-land.

​​I have this strong image of Sepp Blatter and Neymar Jr. riding the same paddy wagon on the way to the hoosegow.

I know, I know, innocent until proven, etc. But I cannot control my imagination.  

Blatter is being investigated for chicanery within FIFA.
Neymar Jr. is being investigated -- not for diving, but for tax evasion involving his family business.  

I picture them in the same van, riding up the river. 
(Not sure what river. The Amazon? The Limmat? Never mind, it's an analogy.)

Neymar is antsy, as a first-time offender.
Blatter is stolid, having feared this moment, in his dark 3 AM moments, for many years.

It's like the scene in the classic movie, "The Unforgiven," where the kid is blubbering to Clint that he's never killed anybody before. (Blatter is no Clint, but let it pass.)

"Geez, Mr. Blatter, I never thought it would come to this. I figured, I get away with stuff on the pitch, my family can file what we want on tax forms." 

Blatter is silent.

"Plus, Mr. Blatter, we all saw how you guys did it. Millions of dollars to Havelange and his son-in-law. Jack Warner making poor old Nelson Mandela fly all the way to Trinidad to beg for the World Cup. And maybe millions of dollars to Warner for his votes. The FIFA way."

Blatter turns his back, facing the van wall, but Neymar continues.

"Fat Chuckie Blazer in the Trump Tower, two apartments! And you, with the yellow Fair Play banners at every match, getting on TV. You were the role model."

Blatter turns to Neymar and bares his teeth, like Edward G.Robinson or Jimmy Cagney in the last reel.

"Shut up, kid," Blatter growls.

The ride continues up river, silently. 
                                 *           *           *
For the details, please see links from the NY Times:

Juliet Macur's terrific column in the Sunday Times: 


The Reuters story on Neymar's tax troubles: 


Sam Borden's story on the investigation of Blatter: 


Borden's story on another slippery guy, Michel Platini, who double-crossed the U.S. for the 2022 bid:


And for background on FIFA frolics, you might consider my book, "Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer," now out in paperback, with an added chapter on 2014. The dark side would be Blatter and his chums.


<![CDATA[Two More Tributes to Yogi and Whitey ]]>Thu, 24 Sep 2015 13:14:03 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/two-more-tributes-to-yogi-and-whiteyPictureBack in the Day, Two Great Yankees
My nomination of Whitey Ford as the Greatest Living Yankee is up and running on the NY Times web site, as of Thursday morning:


Here are two memories of Yogi and Whitey. The first is by Bill Wakefield, who had a really nice season pitching for the Mets in 1964 but was overtaken by the Seavers and Ryans. Bill and I keep in touch. He sent me this memory of Yogi:

1950 -  Yogi and a brash outfielder from the Detroit Tigers, Dick Wakefield, a tall lanky outfielder who liked to smoke cigars, played together with the Yankees. It was a brief overlap of careers and Dick was soon on his way to play  for the Oakland Oaks in the PCL.
1964 -  Yogi is the Manager of the Yankees  and I was pitching for the Mets - -- and in an era before Interleague play -- the Mets and the Yankees played a Mayor's Trophy Game every summer in NYC. In 1964 the game was at Shea -- full house -   Yogi puts himself in to pinch hit -- Casey Stengel puts me in to face Yogi.  In the category of minor miracles Yogi hits into a 6-4-3 double play -- inning over. 
1965 - Spring Training -- Yogi is now catching for the Mets. I am trying to make the team. I come in to pitch two innings -- Yogi is my catcher. He comes to the mound and says "Dick, you still pitching after all these years??" Yogi says, "I can't catch curve balls, sliders, two seams  or changes anymore  and throw anybody out so today we're throwing all fast balls."  What do you say to Yogi??  With a limited assortment of pitches -- one -- and a modest fastball I got out of the two innings unscathed.
1974 -  I go back to Shea Stadium for an Old Timers game.  Yogi is managing the Mets - Yogi sees me.
"Hey Dick how old are you?  You got me out in the Mayor's Trophy Game. Can you still get anybody out?"  
I got my guy -- Joe Pignatano   - out in the Old Timers Game. 
I was thrilled Yogi remembered -- Yogi was a good man!!!

When the Times asked me to nominate a new Greatest Living Yankee today, I did not have room to include this personal tribute to Whitey Ford:

Sometime in the early 60’s, the Yankee charter flight came back from out west, after a night game. (In those days, writers flew with the team, for convenience.) It was nearly dawn when they landed at JFK. I had a car in the lot across from the United terminal and I told Whitey, who lived in Lake Success, and Hector Lopez, who lived in Lakeview, that I would give them a ride to their homes. I left my suitcase with them at the curb.

When I got to my car, a tire was flat. By the time I got back to the terminal, the sun was up and they were gone. So was my suitcase. No cellphones in those days. I drove home, slept a few hours, and wondered where my suitcase was.

Around noon, the phone rang. Whitey had the suitcase in his house, and I could pick it up whenever convenient, which I did on my next trip to the Stadium.

Given the busy lives of ballplayers, I’m not sure every player would have done that act of thoughtfulness. I marked Whitey down as a mensch, and still do.

<![CDATA[Mets Fans Should Know: Never, Ever, Look Ahead]]>Mon, 21 Sep 2015 13:16:55 GMThttp://www.georgevecsey.com/home/mets-fans-should-know-never-ever-look-ahead
How to watch the last two weeks of the Mets' season
It was only a few days ago that I was indulging in texting foolishness with another fan who shall remain nameless.

It was during a Mets game – a Mets victory; remember them? – and we were as giddy (and mindless) as a couple of Wall Street tv yakkers during a market mood swing.

Who would make the post-season roster? That was our preoccupation. With every stupid little bounce of the ball, we would make our snap judgments.

Is the slumping Duda healthy enough for the post-season?
Can they afford a space for Young as a pinch-runner?
You gotta have places for Colon and Niese because of the pitch counts for the Youth of America.

What a luxury, to be speculating on the final utility spot, the last seat in the bullpen.

We forgot half a century of more misery than joy.

In the two losses to the Yankees, the Mets seemed to be carrying the curse of the pitch count, their young pitching stars facing limits, like some exotic breed of butterfly.

It is hard to argue against medicine, which knows how to put pitching arms back together. The Mets’ management – even Matt Harvey’s manipulative agent Scott Boras – did not invent pitch counts for rebuilt patients.

The pitch count is here to stay. No sense in harboring nostalgia for bygone days, when wily pitchers could outsmart bitty little popgun hitters. Nowadays pitchers are mostly brutes, some of them bionic, trying to blow the ball past other brutes with bats in their hands.

Somehow the Mets have accumulated a rotation packed with fragile pitching machines. It is not just about the obvious self-interest of Harvey, the Dark Knight, indeed. He’s got reputable doctors telling him to back off at some point. The Mets’ front office did not invent this.

The least Mets’ fans can do is stop speculating on post-season rosters. Remember the last terrible days of 2007 and 2008.

Who’s the long man in the post-season? Who could get lefties out in October? Banish these thoughts and grab the worry beads. These are, after all, the Mets.