Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

N.Y. Mets: Spring Training Podcast

Here's our latest podcast at 

David Wright ... Terry Collins
5th Starter Spot ... Las Vegas 51s
Neil Walker ... Curtis Granderson
Problems Behind the Plate,
and other stuff.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Admiral's Row: And then there was one

And then there was one...

Admiral's Row

Construction dating 1838 through 1881

Historical graphics provided by 
Scott Witter

Monday, February 13, 2017

N.Y. Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist Wins #400


Feb. 11, 2017
Rangers 4; Avalanche 2

2005 - present

400 - 242 - 73
.920 Sv%
2.30 GAA

  • Henrik Lundqvist became only the twelfth goalie in NHL history to achieve 400 regular season victories.  He is the first non-Canadian goalie to achieve 400 victories, and is also the fastest to achieve 400 victories (727 games).
  • He joined Martin Brodeur and Tony Esposito as the only NHL goalies to ever register 400 wins with one team.
  • Henrik Lundqvist has so far won thirty or more games in ten seasons, has gained 225 of his victories at Madison Square Garden, and has won 55 playoff games.
  • Mike Richter is second on the New York Rangers all-time list with 301 wins.

N.Y. Mets: The Future Starting Rotation is Now

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET

The Truck o' Stuff has Arrived
Pitchers and Catchers are in the building.
The rest of the position players report Feb. 18


Thor    deGrominator    Dark Knight    Super Matz    and Zack Wheeler?

Entering Spring Training, manager Terry Collins let it be known there will be an open competition for the fifth rotation spot between Zack Wheeler, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman.

Both Gsellman, 23, and Lugo, 27, made their major league debut last season, and in the pressures of a pennant race performed very well.

Gsellman made eight appearances and seven starts, in which he went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA, and a 1.276 WHiP with 42 strikeouts through 44.2 innings pitched.  Lugo made 18 appearances and eight starts, in which he posted a 5-2 record with a 2.67 ERA and 1.094 WHiP through 64 innings pitched, with 45 strikeouts.

It's been a long road back for Zack Wheeler, who will turn 28-years old in May.  He is arguably the incumbent heading into Spring Training to win the fifth spot.  But he last threw a major league pitch on Sept. 25, 2014 at Washington in a losing effort against the Nationals.  He has missed all of the last two seasons, save for facing four batters last year while rehabbing with Port St. Lucie.  He'll surely be on a pitch count this season, and will likely be shifting into the bullpen at some point anyway (despite preliminary protestations).

That in turn will leave the door wide open for either Gsellman and/or Lugo to step in.  Overall, this is a good problem for Terry Collins to have.

The same can't be said of TC's number four starter.  There is no doubting Steven Matz' physical ability, but questions abound where it concerns his durability.  Matz has yet to prove he can stay healthy.  Otherwise, Steven is a dynamite kid who has proven he belongs in the bigs.  The upcoming 2017 season will serve as a test, then, to see whether he can withstand the rigors of a long major league season.  Until then, Matz likewise provides Gsellman and Lugo yet another reason to stay sharp and prepare for duty on a moment's notice.

Then there's Matt Harvey ... the Darkened Knight.  His 2016 season literally fizzled out like a bottle rocket on the 4th of July.  And of course, he missed all of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery. It is reasonable to believe this man will be fueled by frustration.  Whatever his motivation, this much is certain: Matt Harvey still has much to prove, and his super agent Scott Boras knows it.  He is indeed a supreme talent, but the Dark Knight is now the measure of himself.  That being said, I hope Terry Collins learned his lesson as far as sticking to his guns when it comes to dealing with Harvey.

Jacob deGrom, who turns 29-years old in June, pitched 43 less innings in 2016 than during the 2015 season.  His ERA, WHiP, and rate of strikeouts were all down, while his rate of hits allowed and walks were up from the previous season.  Sure enough, deGrom succumbed to forearm and elbow discomfort in September and would undergo surgery to re-position the ulnar nerve.  Earlier this month, he said his elbow was pain free.

Noah Syndergaard's off-season weight-gain regimen seems all the rage.  The Mets Nordic ace gained roughly fifteen pounds in an effort to get stronger and increase his late season durability.  Thor claims he accomplished this while applying equal attention to a pitcher's need for flexibility.  Already in possession of a 100 mph fastball, he stated his desire to throw even harder.

From Marc Simon, ESPN

  • The Mets have never had five pitchers make thirty starts in the same season.  They've had four pitchers make thirty starts on six occasions: 1976, 1986, 1989, 1990, 2000, 2003.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks and Dexter Park


...and the baseball club from Brooklyn wins the Caribbean championship!

Perhaps not this year, but it happened, folks.  And not just once, but multiple times.

Brief History: Serie del Caribe

The inspiration for first creating a tournament whereby the best Caribbean winter league baseball clubs would vie for a championship is credited to Venezuelan businessman Jesus Corao.

In 1946, in Caracas, the first Inter-American Series was held between teams representing Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, and representing the United States ... the Brooklyn Bushwicks.  Five Caribbean series were held in Caracas between 1946 and 1950, with Brooklyn winning the first four and Venezuela winning the last.

The success of the series did not go unnoticed.  In 1946 two Venezuelan entrepreneurs pitched the idea of a Caribbean series to what became the original members of the Confederation of Caribbean Baseball (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Panama, and Venezuela).  In August 1949, in Havana, they signed an agreement creating a tournament whereby each nation's respective champion would vie for the Serie del Caribe title.

The rest, as they say, is Caribbean beisbol history ...

  • Cuba won the inaugural Serie del Caribe of 1949-50, then captured a second in 1952.  Between 1956 through 1960, Cuba reeled off another five straight Caribbean titles.  However, as part of his revolution Fidel Castro disbanded the county's professional baseball circuits.  
  • At the same time, Panama's professional league ceased operations as well.  As a result, the Serie del Caribe was suspended between the years 1961 through 1969.
  • The four team Caribbean tournament resumed when the Dominican Republic joined the confederation in 1970 (with returning Venezuela and Puerto Rico), and when Mexico joined in 1971. 
  • The 2016-17 winter season marked Cuba's fourth straight reappearance in the Serie del Caribe. In 2014, Cuba participated in their first Serie del Caribe since 1960, and one short year later captured their first title in 55 years, and the country's eighth overall.  For now, they continue participating on an invitation basis extended by the four member confederation.
  • Most recently, the Criollos de Caguas baseball club representing Puerto Rico defeated Mexico's Aguilas de Mexicali, capturing the Serie del Caribe 2017 title, and thus becoming the 59th champion in the tournament's history.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks

They were an independent semi-pro club and easily one of the game's more unheralded New York City enterprises to ever take the baseball field.

The Bushwicks were owned by a gentleman named Max Rosner, whom immigrated to the United States in 1892 from Hungary.  A businessman in the cigar trade, he was soon sponsoring and even playing shortstop for a local team named the Paramounts in the neighborhood of Williamsburg.

A few years after the Paramounts disbanded, in 1913 Rosner purchased the nearby Ridgewood Nine semi-pro club, and in 1914 renamed them the Bushwicks.  The former Ridgewoods had previously played their home games since 1902 at Wallace's Grounds located at Halsey and Irvin streets in Bushwick.  Rosner's team remained there until a fire in 1917 destroyed the grandstands.

In 1918, the Brooklyn Bushwicks moved into Dexter Park where they played out the remainder of their existence.  At its height, the park grew to hold upwards of 15,000 fans for their traditional Sunday double-headers.

And for good reason - the team was good.

Former President of the Baseball Writers Association of America, Jack Lang said, "In any given game, the Bushwicks had up to five men in the line-up who had some major league experience."

Whether playing for the Bushwicks or in exhibitions against them, Whitey Ford, Dazzy Vance, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Dizzy Dean, Carl Hubbell, Casey Stengel, Jackie Robinson, Phil Rizzuto, Joe Medwick, and Hank Greenberg, were just a few (future or former) major league notables whom participated in games at Dexter Park.

The Brooklyn Bushwicks always maintained multicultural diverse rosters, and likewise hosted the finest Negro Leagues competition of the day, featuring their fellow Dexter Park tenant Brooklyn Royal Giants, the Adrian Page Fence Giants, Cleveland Buckeyes, Cuban Giants, Philadelphia Giants, Roy Campanella and the Baltimore Elite Giants, Josh Gibson and the Homestead Grays, and other stars Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, et al.

Jackie Robinson's breaking of baseball's color barrier and the resulting demise of the various Negro Leagues are believed to have made it increasingly harder for Max Rosner to field quality talent and lure representative competition.  The advent of television further affected Rosner's ability to draw fans to the park.

Shortly after their participation in the Inter-America Caribbean series, the team ceased operations upon completion of their 1951 season.

Dexter Park, 1930s

The area of Dexter Park had previously existed as a racetrack, then a recreational park.  The ballpark itself which dated back to the 19th century, was located just off Jamaica Avenue on the Woodhaven side of the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Dexter Park was also the nation's first ball field to be fitted with lights, hosting the first night game in 1930, a full six seasons before the Brooklyn Dodgers played the major's first night game at Ebbets Field.

One particular optician's advertisement on the outfield wall read, "Don't kill the Umpire - Maybe it's your eyes?"  An incline also existed in right field due to a horse having been buried there.

Only in Brooklyn...

Yahoo images
Green Cathedrals

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Criollos de Caguas Capture Series del Caribe 2017 Title for Puerto Rico

From the desk of: Winter League/Serie del Caribe


Puerto Rico   1
Mexico          0

Los Criollos de Caguas Bring Caribbean Championship Back to Puerto Rico.

La Yeguita ha llegado ...

!Los Criollos de Caguas son campeones del Caribe!

Seventeen years in the making ... the Borinquen delegation from Caguas defeated Mexico's Aguilas de Mexciali to capture the winter league's Serie del Caribe 2017 title.

They say one of the hardest things to do in Caribbean beisbol is beating Mexico, in Mexico.  Yet, Caguas did just that, overcoming the heavily favored Mexicali Eagles in extra innings Tuesday evening in the city of Culiacan.

After opening the Caribbean tournament with three consecutive loses against Mexico, Venezuela, and Cuba, los Criollos parlayed their lone first round victory over Relublico Dominicana into a semi-final appearance versus Venezuela.

Once there, Caguas avenged their opening round loss against Aguilas de Zulia with a 9-6 victory in Monday's penultimate game, and thereby earned themselves a tournament rematch against Mexico in the Serie final.

Los Criollos de Caguas prevailed 1-0 in ten innings over los Aguilas de Mexicali in the series finale before a dismayed crowd at Tomateros Stadium to capture this year's Caribbean crown for Puerto Rico.

This marks Puerto Rico's 15th Serie del Caribe title, and their first since 2000 when los Cangrejeros de Santurce last accomplished the feat.

Meanwhile, this is los Criollos de Caguas fourth Serie del Caribe title in their history, but only their first since 1987.

The thirty years wait finally ended Tuesday evening when Caguas shortstop Yadiel Rivera led off the top of the tenth inning against Mexicali with a double to right, advanced to third on a sacrifice by second basemen Jesmuel Valentin, then scored the lone run of the game on catcher Jonathan Morales' sac-fly to center.

In the bottom of the tenth, Criollos reliever Miguel Mejia retired los Aguilas de Mexicali in order to earn the win, and close out Puerto Rico's ultimate victory.

Starter Adalberto Flores faced 18 batters through six innings pitched, allowing just one hit and a walk.

Analyze all you want, they are special and believed - GM Alex Cora

Believe in themselves they did ... when it seemed as if no one else did.

Having ended their regular season with a slightly sub par .500 record, they've been labeled underdogs the day since Puerto Rico's LBPRC regular season ended and this improbable post-season journey began.  Few liked their chances against los Indios de Mayaguez in the league's semi-final, and even less liked their chances for getting by los Cangrejeros de Santurce in the LBPRC Serie Final.

Were it not for a ponderous Dominican exit from the Serie del Caribe, we may not even be having this conversation.  But Puerto Rico's road to the Caribbean title undeniably reaffirms the notion los Criollos simply continued winning when the games mattered most.

Upon conclusion of round robin play, Venezuela entered the semi-final game the top seeded team, yet fell to Caguas.  And while los Criollos entered the Serie final game with a 2-3 record, los Aguilas de Mexicali entered the final game with a Serie best 4-1 mark, and likewise fell to Caguas.

Parque Yldefonso Sola Morales
Home of 2017 Caribbean Champions

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Criollos de Caguas to Meet Aguilas de Mexicali in Serie del Caribe Final

From the desk of: La Yeguita

*            *            *            *            *
Criollos de Caguas
MEXICO (4-1)
Aguilas de Mexicali
Tomateros Stadium

!Patea Yeguita Patea!

After losing their first three opening round games, los Criollos de Caguas miraculously find themselves within one victory from capturing their fourth ever Caribbean title.

Caguas avenged their opening round loss to los Aguilas de Zulia, and in doing so eliminated Venezuela from this year's Serie del Caribe with a 9-6 victory in Monday's semi-final.

But ... not before putting themselves in harm's way first.

Caguas jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first; added a pair in the third inning; scored one more in the fourth; and still one more run in the top of the fifth inning for a commanding 8-0 lead.

Venezuela finally got on the board with a run in the bottom of the fifth.  Puerto Rico promptly added another run for a 9-1 lead, but los Aguilas plated their second run in the bottom of the sixth.

Zulia then put a scare into all Puerto Rico with a four run outburst in the home eighth to close within 6-9 of Caguas.

Los Criollos went down quietly in the top of the ninth.

However, the same could not be said of los Aguilas in the bottom half of the frame.  Zulia reeled off three straight singles to load the bases off Criollos closer Ricardo Gomez.  With no outs, manager Luis Matos left his reliever in the game to sink or swim.  Gomez rewarded his confidence by striking out second baseman Ali Castillo, retiring shortstop Freddie Galvis on a shallow fly to center, then by fanning third baseman Ronny Cedeno to end the game.

Now winners of two straight, los Criollos de Caguas will face los Aguilas de Mexicali for the Serie del Caribe 2017 championship Tuesday evening at Tomateros Stadium, in Culiacan, Mexico.



In Monday evening's semi-final nightcap, three Aguilas de Mexicali lancadores combined on a nine inning whitewashing of Alazanes de Granma while limiting them to just two walks and a pair of hits, and fanning ten.

Cuba mounted their only threat in the top of the first when they put runners on second and third with one out.  But their clean-up, five and six hitters stranded them all.

Aguilas third baseman Augustin Murillo's RBI single in the 5th was all Mexico would muster, but all they would need.  Their pitching ensured it held up.

Cuban starter Lazaro Blanco was the hard luck loser, throwing 103 pitches in a seven inning effort, in which he allowed just a run on four hits and three walks, with five strikeouts.

In the recent years Cuba has been invited back to participate in the Serie del Caribe, they have quickly developed a spirited rivalry with Mexico.  To date, Mexico's lone loss of the tourney came against Cuba, but it was Mexico whom prevailed in the semis.  It was also Mexico whom eliminated the (then) defending champion Cubans in last year's tourney.

Mexico enters the final game against Puerto Rico with a tourney best 4-1 record.

*         *         *

Even the Serie Final does not come without its controversies.  Loud whispers are meant to be heard, aren't they?  People with microphones are murmuring about only the best teams should face off for the Caribbean championship.

That is obviously a shot at Caguas, who enter Tuesday's title game with just two victories in five tries.  Meanwhile, Venezuela and Cuba have been shown the door despite posting 3-2 records respectively.

Nothing but sour grapes gone international, I say ... more typical knee jerk reactions.  This is the 59th Serie del Caribe, in operation since 1949 (with two exceptions).  Point is, there's nothing wrong with the system.  If people would just take things at face value, they'd realize this is what happens when Republico Dominicana ponderously goes 0-4 and tilts the bracket.

  • Round Robin
  • 1)  VEN  3-1
  • 2)  MEX  3-1
  • 3)  CUB  3-1
  • 4)  P.R.    1-3  advanced with win over D.R. on Saturday
  • 5)  D.R.   0-4  eliminated with loss to P.R. on Saturday

  • Semi-Finals
  • P.R. def. VEN
  • MEX def. CUB

This is all another way of saying ... Criollos happen.  Deal with it, and just play the game.