Monday, October 16, 2006

Think Pink

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Everyone, men as well as women, should check their breasts for lumps routinely; if you don't know how to perform a self exam, the Susan G. Komen website will show you how.

October is also Fire Prevention/Fire Safety Awareness Month.

Stop, drop and roll, and get a mammogram.

Cory Lidle

When online friends first reported a plane crashing into a Manhattan skyscraper there were concerns about a possible terrorist attack. Learning that it was not an airliner, but rather a small private plane did not ease fears as such a crash with a plane carrying bio or chemical or nuclear weapons is high on the list of probable and highly-feared attacks for NYC. When the news came later that the small aircraft belonged to Cory Lidle, who was aboard when it crashed it struck a different personal note.

Cory Lidle pitched for the Binghamton Mets, a couple years before I started attending their games, but he's among the players who've been here and done well, a honorary member of My Guys since I never actually saw him play in Binghamton.

Many minor leaguers players were called on as replacement players during the MLB players' 1994-95 strike, young players who felt they would lose any chance of some day making it to the majors if they refused to report as required by the teams' owners. As the 10th anniversary of that lost season rolled around, I did a bit of research about these replacement players who were at the time described as nobodies and no talents, and found several who went on to substantial success later in their careers, probably a close comparison to any other season's group of low level minor leaguers' success rate. Among those replacement players was Cory Lidle.

Back when I first got interested in baseball and had access only to the Yankees and the Mets on TV, I followed the soap-operatic Yankees, the Bronx Zoo, and my favorite Yankee was Thurman Munson. The shock of his death in a private plane crash still gives me pause, and Cory Lidle's death makes that shock echo once more.


The Tigers might have slipped during the second half of the regular season, but it appears perhaps they were only resting up for the post-season. They lulled the Yankees into thinking they were the team of destiny by allowing them to win the first game of the Division series then mowed 'em down. No sense in tormenting the A's like a cornered mouse, just mowed 'em down in four straight.

He stunk up the joint, but I was happy to see my hometown guy Jason Grilli make a post-season appearance. (Next time, don't walk three straight on 12 pitches, 'kay?)

Looks like the National League series is headed for a full 7 games. If the Cardinals win, it will be a repeat of the first World Series match up I ever saw, back in 1968, and I will have no mixed loyalty in rooting for the Tigers. Should the Mets win (I stand by my earlier prediction of a Tigers-Mets Series), I'll be rooting for the Tigers as a team and the Mets as individual players.

Go Motor City Kitties!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Major-Minor Swaps

Minor league clubs sign player development agreements (PDA) with major league clubs for two or four years, four years when the association is a good one, two years when there might be problems.

New Orleans was affiliated with Montreal. Made sense if you think of their fan base being of French extraction, otherwise I haven't a clue how that association got started.

Columbus has been with the Yankees since Steinbrenner bought the Yanks; Columbus is his hometown. Makes sense.

Norfolk has been aligned with the Mets for ages. They were called the Tidewater Tides back in the 70's, changed the locale portion of the name when a new ballpark was built.

The trend of late is for a major league team to gather its various levels of farm teams in a region. Toronto left Medicine Hat, Bluefield WV, and other far flung paradises to consolidate its fan base as well as player pool in the northeast. Syracuse has been Toronto's AAA team since 1977 (they were with the Yankees until Steinbrener took over) and they've now got AA in New Hampshire, short-season A in Auburn, NY (just down the road from Syracuse), A in Lansing, MI.

Other teams are doing the same and the Phillies are the ones who got this round rolling.

The Phillies are moving their AAA team closer, leaving Scranton for Allentown and the new ballpark there. Their AA is in Reading. Their fan base will be huge and local.

The Mets wanted to locate their AAA club closer to NYC; they've been pulling guys up from Binghamton in many cases simply because they are physically closer. They thought they would get Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, which would be terrific in consolidating the fan base, capturing NE Pennsylvania together with the southern tier of NY, as well be bringing the AAA guys slightly closer.

Norfolk went with Washington. Location again, and since Montreal moved, it made sense that their AAA team might change.

The Yankees grabbed Scranton. Don't know if the Mets ever truly had a chance.

Syracuse made a huge blunder. The local paper has been raking the management and board of directors over the coals for many, many things they've done wrong and continue to do wrong. After making noises about not renewing the PDA with Toronto because of the dismal record the Chiefs have suffered through at their hands, they did not wait until the season was ended and other teams' affiliations were up for grabs. The Syracuse BofD renewed the PDA back in June at a meeting attended by only 13 of 25 members, less than the quorum required for such a decision.

My hope is that the Mets are preparing to unseat Toronto and take over Syracuse at the end of the 2008 season. Both parent teams have new 2-year PDAs in place. The Mets in Syracuse makes as much if not more sense than Scranton would have. The ballpark in Syracuse is fifteen minutes from the airport. The AA team is an hour-fifteen minute ride down the interstate. The area has no other prevailing National League allegiance; the fan base already exists, and putting the AAA team so close to the AA team would boost attendance at both parks as well as increase fan interest in the Mets at all levels.