Jul 31, 2009

The Baseball Worlds of Tony Bernazard (1979-2009)

Tony Bernazard was fired by the Mets this week for many reasons, here's a look back at his career.

Bernazard was born August 24, 1956 in Puerto Rico. He was drafted by the Expos in 1973 and didn't get to the bigs until 1979. He played two seasons sparingly in Montreal before becoming the regular second baseman for the White Sox, then the Indians through out the eighties. He was traded to the Mariners midway through the 1983 season for Julio Cruz, who helped the Sox win the AL West. In 1984 Bernazard tied a record by going hitless in a 44 at bat stretch. He was a good sacrifice guy, and hit over .300 in 1986. That year he had career highs with 17 HRs 73 RBIs & 169 hits. When he was on a hot streak at the plate all he would eat on his dinner plate was chicken, much to the ridicule of his team mates. By 1988 he was playing in Japan for three seasons & retired from playing in 1991. A lifetime .262 hitter with 177 doubles, 75 HRs, 391 RBIs, playing over 1071 games with a .977 fielding percentage.

Bernazard was an MLB Players Association special assistant to the Director from 1992-2003. He was involved in labor negotiations, and served as G.M. for MLB All Star teams playing against Japanese All Star teams. In 2004 he became the Mets V.P. of Player Development. He & his family moved into the Princeton New Jersey area.
In 2008 it was said in Mets camp that Bernazard had alot to do with Willie Randolph getting axed. This season Bernazard and his hot head had a bust summer. He argued with a Diamondbacks scout at Citi Field when he wanted a seat the scout was occupying. Then he had an shouting match with Mets closer, Francisco Rodriguez on the team bus in Atlanta. Then he ripped his shirt off and challenged the players of the Binghamton Mets to a fight. Not proper conduct for a 53 year old front office guy. He was fired with alot of drama at at Omar Minaya press conference this past week. If the Mets were winning, this would not have been as big of a deal as it became.

Jul 29, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Gil Hodges Removes Cleon Jones From Left Field

JULY 30, 1969: By no means do I mean to bash Cleon Jones, he is one of my favorite all time Mets and is a big part of Mets history. But Cleon did have some drama during his playing days as documented on the July 27 posting & todays as well. We still love ya Cleon!!
The Houston Astros come into a wet Shea Stadium and dominate the Mets. In the first game of a double header, the Astros behind the pitching of Don Wilson, pummel the Mets 16-3. In the second game Larry Dierker allows 12 hits & 5 runs but the Astros pound Gary Gentry & Nolan Ryan for 11 runs to sweep the pair.

In the top of the third it was already 7-0 and Nolan Ryan replaced Gary Gentry. Astros catcher Johnny Edwards doubled to left field scoring Doug Rader. Mets left fielder Cleon Jones who had been nursing an ankle injury, slowly went after the ball and weakly tossed it to the infield. Next thing everyone knew manager Gil Hodges was out of the dugout & walking past the mound. Ryan had just pitched to one batter, Gil didn’t want him. Bud Harrelson thought he was coming for him but couldn’t figure what he did wrong, Hodges walked past the short stop. Cleon Jones who also thought Gil was going to Harrelson now knew he was coming for him. The rest of the team held their breath; “I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of this” though Tom Seaver.

According to Cleon Jones he said Hodges told him “that ankle is bothering you, you better come out, if you’re nursing it like that”. Jones at first said “ I told you I can play through it Gil, the grass is just wet”. Hodges pulled him from the game. He walked away with a dejected Cleon Jones a few feet behind him with his head down. Hodges just proved to his team that he would not settle for anything else but 100% from his players, always, no matter what the score is. At the time Jones was leading the N.L. in hitting, the rest of the players said, if he can remove the league’s batting leader he could remove any of us. From this day on the 1969 Mets went 45-19 the best in baseball.

Jul 28, 2009

50th Anniversary of the Proposed Continental League

July 29th, 1959: With the Giants & Dodgers moving to California, there was a big hole in New York sports. The fan base of the two departed teams was huge and they were not about to switch to American League baseball. An attorney from New York named Bill Shea headed the effort for a new league to be added to Major League Baseball. Then there was only 16 teams and the owners carried a lot of power over the Commissioner. They were not happy about a third league being added.
The Continental League would have franchises in New York, Houston, Minneapolis, Denver & Toronto. Three others were expected by 1961; with Dallas, Atlanta, & Buffalo leading the way. The franchise owners needed $2.5 million to start, not including stadium costs with seating for at least 35,000. The New York franchise was to play in Queens near the site of the upcoming 1964 World’s Fair.
The owners instead chose to expand the existing leagues in cities that didn’t have baseball. In 1961 the A.L. got two teams; The Twin Cities of got the Twins, ( the relocated Senators from Washington D.C.), D.C. got a new Senators franchise and the Los Angeles area of Anaheim got the 1st West Coast A.L. team, the L.A. Angels.

In 1962 the N.L. got the Houston Colt 45’s. Thanks to the efforts of Bill Shea, New York got a much needed N.L. franchise, the Metropolitans, who became known as the Mets. The Mets would name their new Stadium Shea Stadium in his honor. He was not only responsible for a new New York, N.L. team but for baseballs overall expansion.

These proposals instantly killed the Continental League, and the other cities had to wait. Atlanta got the relocated Milwaukee Braves in 1966, Dallas/ Fort Worth would have to wait until 1972, when they got the Senators franchise that became the Rangers. Toronto waited until 1977 for the Blue Jays when the A.L. expanded again. Denver waited 30 years until the Colorado Rockies were born in 1993.

The next expansion was in 1969. The N.L. got the Montreal Expos, (the first team outside the US), & Southern California, San Diego got the Padres. The A.L. got the Kansas City Royals (replacing the A’s who moved to Oakland), & the Seattle Pilots, who after one season would move to Milwaukee to become the Brewers. Their effort to move to Wisconsin was headed by a guy named Bud Selieg.

Turn Back the Clock To Some Old Mets Advertisments:

What better way to make for a nicer day at Shea?

If you cant get to the ballpark, listen to the voices of expierence: Lindsey, Ralph & Bob make it all come to life.

Get your official Original Mr. Met wrist watch for only $9.99, back in the late sixties of course.

A Casey Stengle ad for Westinghouse dish washers in the early sixties.

Another great Yogi Berra Yoo-Hoo ad. Two great Hall of Famers.

The official beer of the Mets for years, extra dry Rheingold. Remember those little brown nip bottles?

Art Shamsky with Lauren Hutton in Harpers Bazaar, circa 1970.

Tom Seaver for the Mens Store at Sears, wearing that early seventies "comfort- shirt", and lovin that wide burgandy tie.

Gary Carter the amazing clean up hitter for Northville Gasoline. Gary was quite the commercial success upon his arrival in New York in 1985.

Here's how Dwight Gooden "Dr. K" fixes his Ribs, with Kingsford charcols.

Remember when 1/2 the Mets games were broadcast on Channel 9 & the other half were on Sports Channel? They had it covered.

Before 66 WFAN , the Mets were on New York's Country Music AM station, 1050 WHN.

David Wright represents Union Carpenters bulding the new Citifield in 2007.

Jul 23, 2009

Today In Mets History: 1969- Tommie Agee Steals Home in the 10th Inning

July 24, 1970: The L.A. Dodgers came in for a weekend Series, both teams were playing well in second place. An almost sellout crowd of 54,000 weren’t disappointed as Jerry Koosman & Bill Singer both put in strong nine inning, one run performances. Tug McGraw came on to pitch a perfect 10th as the Mets entered the bottom of the frame with only five hits on the night.

Jim Brewer came in to pitch for L.A. in what would be a wild inning. Tug McGraw led off the inning with a single, Tommie Agee attempted to bunt him over. Brewer threw to second, and McGraw was safe as short stop Billy Grabarkewitz dropped the ball. Al Weis came into run for McGraw, but got picked off of second. Tommie Agee was pesky, he stole second & then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Brewer struck out Harrelson for out number two. Ken Singleton walked & Donn Clendenon pinch hit for Mike Jorgenson and walked to load them up. In a bold move, the pesky Agee broke for home as Brewer went into the wind up. He surprised everyone in the ballpark sliding safely under catcher Jeff Torborg’s tag for the game winner. The umpire signaled safe as he fell over Torborg and Cleon Jones the batter. Now that’s a 2-1 win, thanks to good base running.

Jul 22, 2009

Paul McCartney Wraps Up Three Nights at Citi Field In New York

Last night Paul wrapped up three incredible shows inaugurating Citi Field as a concert venue. What a pleasure seeing a concert there, easy to get to, great food, plenty of spots to hang out at & over all pretty comfortable. I am looking forward to future concerts there as well.

Last night rain seemed to stop right around show time. It drizzled on & off the first couple of hours, which was ok because the line at Shake Shack wasn’t too long & we got to eat there. Sitting in the first level seating was by far nothing like being on the floor Friday night. A lot further from the stage and a very laid bac
k crowd. Very few songs got the crowd up, mostly on the encores. I call this the “stay at home rent the DVD crowd”. Your out folks, get up, sing, dance bond with everyone else! Paul McCartney is on stage!!! I don’t know if it was different in other areas of the ball park? Even Paul seemed a little more laid back than on Friday, but he still put on a great show. Worth every penny of the admission, and worth more to pay more to sit closer.

The set list was the same, no surprises and no surprise guest. After seeing him so often, I like some of the less popular McCartney songs he pulls out. I still Think I’ve Got A Feeling, Let Me Roll It & Something were the best of the night. It was great seeing the Live & Let Die fireworks from a distance, really an incredible display.

All in all I spent two incredible nights t Citi Field over the past four days seeing one of my favorite all time artists. I don’t think anyone can put on a better show, or has that kind of personal library. Paul defies age and as usual he & the Beatles give us insp iration & hope for life today & in the future as we embrace its past.

Heres a link to Darren Devivo’s WFUV blog-& Paul’s concerts review:

Jul 20, 2009

Paul McCartney Tours 1989-1993

The Citi Field Shows are such a success and the postings here also a hit, people want more Macca. Lets look back at all solo Paul Tours.........

The 1989 Paul McCartney World Tour was the first time Paul had played the US since Wings Over America in 1976. He took the road with a new band; Paul Wix Wickens (on keyboards & piano) Robbie McIntosh (guitar, once of the Pretenders) Hamish Stewart (guitar, formerly of the Average White Band) Chris Whitten on drums and of course Linda McCartney (keyboards) whom Paul would always introduce as Gertrude Higgins. The 1989/1990 Tour had 104 Tour dates, 45 in the United States, 6 in the New York area. A free 98 page Tour booklet was given out at each show with profiles of the band, Paul’s career & Tour stats.

Paul sported long hair and wasn't afraid to play Beatles songs, like in his Wings days. The Tour began in September in Norway, after rolling through Sweden, Spain, Europe & the Netherlands; it hit Los Angeles on November 23, for five nights. Passing through Chicago & Canada, it arrived in New York at Madison Square Garden for four sold out shows on December 11th, 12th 14th & 15th. The tour resumed after the holidays with 18 shows in England including 12 nights at Wembley arena. The Tour came back to the to the US for large Stadium shows throughout the summer. I attended another Giants Stadium show in July 1990. The Tour ended in Chicago on July 29, 1990.
Paul had just released the Flowers in the Dirt album, that June. It was his best work since 1982s Tug of War, the album went gold but only peaked at #21 on the charts. The single My Brave Face got a lot of rock radio airplay & reached #25 in the US Top 40. George Martin did some work on the album, as did Elvis Costello & David Gilmour. Other notable songs on the album were Figure of Eight (which usually opened shows on the Tour); Put It There & Rough Ride. The tour was documented by a live double album Tripping the Live Fantastic, and the 1991 film Get Back.

During the Tour Paul had added a John Lennon tribute doing a medley of Strawberry Fields/ Help / Give Peace A Chance. He also did Maybe I’m Amazed & Matchbox at some shows.

1989/1990 McCartney Set List
1. Figure Of Eight
2. Jet

3. Got To Get You Into My Life
4. Rough Ride
5. Band On The Run
6. We Got Married
7. Let 'Em In
8. The Long And Winding Road
9. The Fool On The Hill
10. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
11. Good Day Sunshine
12. Can't Buy Me Love
13. Put It There
14. Things We Said Today
15. Eleanor Rigby
16. This One

17. My Brave Face
18. Back in the U.S.S.R.
19. I Saw Her Standing There
20. Coming Up
21. Let It Be
22. Ain't That A Shame
23. Live And Let Die
24. Hey Jude
25. Yesterday
26. P.S. Love Me Do
27. Get Back
28. Golden Slumbers /Carry That Weight /The End

In 1993 the Paul McCartney New World Tour hit the road promoting the album Off the Ground. The Tour started in February in Milan, Italy and hit the US by April, opening in Las Vegas. The tour had 74 dates worldwide, only 21 US shows, mostly at large stadium venues, hitting Giants Stadium on June 11, 1993. The band was the same as the last tour except a new drummer was on board, Blair Cunningham.
The Off the Ground album was released in February 1993 with the same band who also played on Flowers. The album hit #18 and went gold in the US but didn’t have a hit single. Hope Of Deliverance bombed as a hit in America. Other notable tracks were Off the Ground & Looking For Changes (which was an angry animal rights song), Paul seemed to sing more about social issues, this is not a great album in my eyes.

Paul put out another live album from this Tour Paul Is Live. It didn’t sell well due to the fact it was his third Live (including Unplugged) released in a three year period. This would be the last Tour for Linda McCartney before her passing, and the last for that McCartney line up.

1993 Off the Ground Tour Set List
1. "Drive My Car"
2. "Coming Up"
3. "Looking for Changes"
4. "Jet"
5. "All My Loving"
6. "Let Me Roll It"
7. "Peace in the Neighborhood"
8. "Off the Ground"
9. "Can't Buy Me Love"
10. "Robbie's Bit"
11. "Good Rocking Tonight"
12. "We Can Work It Out"
13. "I Lost My Little Girl"
14. "Ain't No Sunshine"
15. "Hope of Deliverance"
16. "Michelle"
17. "Biker Like an Icon"

18. "Here, There and Everywhere"
19. "Yesterday"
20. "My Love"
21. "Lady Madonna"
22. "C'mon People"
23. "Magical Mystery Tour"
24. "Let It Be"
25. "Live and Let Die"
26. "Paperback Writer"
27. "Back in the U.S.S.R."
28. "Penny Lane"
29. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
30. "Band on the Run"
31. "I Saw Her Standing There"
32. "Hey Jude"

Paul McCartney Tours of the 2000's

The 2002 Driving Rain Tour was Paul’s first in nine years. A lot had happened since then. The Beatles had released their highly successful Anthology project and the three surviving Beatles had a new found friendship. Paul released his best album since Wings, with Flaming Pie in 1997. It was a huge success hitting #2 on the US charts his highest charting since 1982. It featured Jeff Lynn, George Martin, Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, & son James. The album was very Beatle inspired and received great reviews. Great tracks like Flaming Pie, The World Tonight, Beautiful Night, Calico Skies, Young Boy & Somedays highlighted the great work. It was nominated for album of the year & In my opinion its one of his top 3 solo albums!

Sadly Linda McCartney passed away from cancer in 1998, then George Harrison in 2001. There was also the attacks of 911 in which Paul was on a plane in New York City watching the events from his window. He was inspired to write the single Freedom an almost Lennon like anthem of the times. Next he became romantically involved with activist Heather Mills. In 1999 he released Run Devil Run a collection of old Rock & Roll songs, and three new tunes. Most notably Try Not To Cry. It was very upbeat, casual & featured David Gilmour (Pink Floyd) on guitars & Ian Piace (Deep Purple) on drums. In May of 2001 he released a Wings Anthology called Wingspan, the album reached #2, a TV documentry & DVD followed. The whole project was another big success.
The 2002 Tour promoted the new Driving Rain album in 2002. The album did better in American than in England, but only hit #26 on the album charts with no hit singles. Many of the songs were Heather inspired and was a pretty good effort overall but not nearly as good as Flaming Pie.

The Driving Rain Tour had a new band backing Paul; Paul "Wix" Wickens (who has been with Paul since 1989), Brian Ray, & Rusty Anderson, on guitars and Abe Laboriel Jr. on drums. This band would accompanying Paul on three tours through 2009. The Tour began in April at Oakland, California. It hit Madison Square Garden on April 26 & 27th. He also did a Long Island and Jersey, NY area show. There were 24 shows on the 1st leg of the tour ending in May, then 23 more shows from September to October. Driving Rain went around the world finishing up in May 2003. Another live film called Back In the US followed.

Driving Rain Tour Set List
1. "Hello Goodbye"
2. "Jet"
3. "All My Loving"
4. "Getting Better"
5. "Coming Up"

6. "Let Me Roll It"
7. "Lonely Road"
8. "Driving Rain"
9. "Your Loving Flame"
10. "Blackbird"
11. "Every Night"
12. "We Can Work It Out"
13. "Mother Nature's Son"
14. "Vanilla Sky"
15. "You Never Give Me Your Money"/"Carry That Weight" (medley)
16. "Fool on the Hill"
17. "Here Today"
18. "Something"
19. "Eleanor Rigby"
20. "Here, There, and Everywhere"
21. "Band on the Run"
22. "Maybe I'm Amazed"
23. "C Moon"
24. "My Love"
25. "Can't Buy Me Love"
26. "Freedom"

27. "Live and Let Die"
28. "Let It Be"
29. "Hey Jude"
30. "The Long and Winding Road"
31. "Lady Madonna"
32. "I Saw Her Standing There"
33. "Yesterday"
34. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)"/"The End (medley)"


Two years later Paul went out again with the same band on the US Tour of 2005. The tour came after the release of Chaos & Creation in the Back Yard. It was another quality album from McCartney, one in which he played all the instruments but didn’t do any of the producing. It got rave reviews and reached #6 on the charts going gold too. The song Fine Line was released as a single, Friends to Go was inspired by George Harrison & Jenny Wren sounded like it came off the White Album, one of his best songs ever.

The Tour had 37 North American shows hitting Madison Square Garden in New York for four October shows. Paul was great again sounding better than ever up to that point. The set list included some new songs and some new Beatles classics, like Fixing A Hole from Sgt. Pepper. He included In Spite of All the Danger, one of the earliest Lennon/McCartney songs included on the Beatles Anthology 1.

2005 US Tour Set List
1. "Magical Mystery Tour"
2. "Flaming Pie"
3. "Jet"
4. "I'll Get You"
5. "Drive My Car"
6. "Till There Was You"
7. "Let Me Roll It"
8. "Got to Get You Into My Life"
9. "Fine Line"
10. "Maybe I'm Amazed"
11. "The Long and Winding Road"
12. "In Spite of All the Danger"
13. "I Will"
14. "Jenny Wren"
15. "For No One"
16. "Fixing a Hole"
17. "English Tea"
18. "I'll Follow the Sun"
19. "Follow Me"
20. "Blackbird"
21. "Eleanor Rigby"
22. "Too Many People"
23. "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window"
24. "Good Day Sunshine"
25. "Band on the Run"
26. "Penny Lane"
27. "I've Got a Feeling"

28. "Back in the U.S.S.R."
29. "Hey Jude"
30. "Live and Let Die"
31. "Yesterday"
32. "Get Back"
33. "Helter Skelter"
34. "Please Please Me"
35. "Let It Be"
36. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)"/"The End (medley)"