Jun 30, 2016

Remembering Elvis' Legendary Guitarist: Scotty Moore (1931-2016)

Keith Richards may have said it best: "Everyone wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scottie Moore". Scottie Moore the lead guitarist for Elvis Presley on so many of his biggest songs, inspired the next generation of guitarist in the rock & roll world.
Keith Richards, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Brian Setzer, Alvin Lee, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood & Mark Knopfler, to name a few.

Scotty Moore was born December 31st, 1931 in Gadsden, Tennessee. Moore began playing guitar as a child, influenced by country music as well as jazz. One of Moore's biggest influences was Chet Atkins.  Moore served in the US Navy from 1948-1952, came home & began a legendary music career.
Moore & his band the Starlight Wrangler got to audition for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. It was Phillips who knew that Moore's guitar playing, Bill Blacks double bass slapping style, were going to be perfect behind a young Elvis Presley. Elvis had recorded a song at the studio a year earlier for his mother & Phillip's secretary Marion Keisker had kept a demo. She asked a young Elvis- What kind of singer are you?" He said, "I sing all kinds." I said,"Who do you sound like?" He said, "I don't sound like nobody."  She called him back a year later & Phillips put the band together.

On a classic night in 1954 at Sun Studios, the band  had what seemed like an unproductive rehearsal.

Quotes: Moore recalled, "All of a sudden, Elvis just started singing this song, jumping around and acting the fool, and then Bill picked up his bass, and he started acting the fool, too, and I started playing with them. Sam, had the door to the control booth open ... he stuck his head out and said, 'What are you doing?' And we said, 'We don't know.' 'Well, back up,' he said, 'try to find a place to start, and do it again.'"

Drummer D.J. Fontana was added in October of 1954 & would be a part of Elvis's band for the next 16 years. The boys officially formed the group "The Blue Moon Boys".  This would be the classic Elvis lineup, who made all the ground breaking television appearances & legendary recordings that put rock & roll on the map.  

The group would appear together until Elvis went to the Army in 1958, returned in 1960 & stayed together for the 1968 Elvis Comeback Special, although Bill Black had passed away in 1965. The '68 Comeback Special was a huge success & is looked back at as the first to have that Unplugged type of format. This was the last time the band played together & it was the last time Scotty Moore saw Elvis.

Moore cab be heard on songs: Jailhouse Rock/ Hound Dog/ All Shook Up/ Blue Suede Shoes/ Heartbreak Hotel/ Dont Be Cruel/ Thats All Right/ Are You Lonesome Tonight/ Good Rockin Tonight /Blue Moon of Kentucky/  Milk Cow Blues / Hard Headed Woman/ Baby Lets Play House/ Mystery Train & others. He also appeared in the Elvis Movies: Loving You, Jailhouse Rock, King Creole & G.I. Blues from 1957-1960.

Moore was famous for playing a Gibson Super 400, known as "the guitar that changed the world" it is called the largest, fanciest-adorned, highest-priced factory built archtop / hollow body guitar ever. One of the key pieces of equipment in Moore's sound was the use of the Ray Butts Echosonic , first used by Chet Atkins. 
This is a guitar amplifier with a tape echo built in, which allowed him to take his trademark slap back echo on the road. Moore said he took his style form every guitar player he ever heard, with Elvis he played around him never trying to top over him. The idea was to play something that wet the other way- a counter point.

During those days, Moore & Presley were good friends with Moore feeling like an older brother to the younger Presley. He was the Elvis' first manager before Colonel Tom Parker took over.

For a time Moore supervised operations at Sun Studios as well. Moore would work with his friend Carl Perkins, as well as Keith Richards, Ron Wood, Jeff Beck, Paul McCartney, & Levon Helm.
In 1970 he even engineered the Ringo Starr album Beaucoup of Blues, as well as collaborating with many other artists through the years. He was once ranked the 29th best Guitarist of all time.

Over the past few months Moore's health had gotten bad, he passed away in Nashville at age 84.

Jun 25, 2016

Mets Welcome Back Jose Reyes

So the Mets have signed Jose Reyes after a five year stretch where he played in South Florida, Toronto & Colorado. Although he batted .296 in 2013 (in just 93 games) Reyes has not hit .300 since he left the Mets. That season he was the only Mets player ever to win a batting title.

In 2012 he played 160 games in Miami but has seen less time each year. He has not hit double digits in HRs since 2013 (10) but did drive in 50 runs in 2014 & 2015 while stealing 20 plus bases three times since leaving the Mets.

Jose is now 33 years old, but an injury plagued 33 year old career with an ugly domestic violence issue & suspension looming over his head. Mentally he is happy the Mets gave him a chance & the fans will be happy to see him again. He didn't leave on the best terms taking himself out of the game after sealing the battling title. Jose got a little to big for his pants & since he left he has never been the same player  but the Mets became National League Champions.

It's a different Mets team now & Jose has to prove he can still play. The Mets are talking lead off because they need production & speed from that spot. The Mets are also talking third base & outfield? That may be a lot to ask, from Jose. But hopefully the Mets can catch lightning in  a bottle & the chants of Jose Jose Jose will start up in a pennant race in 2016.

'Quotes: Sandy Alderson Mets statement: 'We made the decision to offer a contract to Jose after extensive consideration and discussion with Jose, his representatives, Major League Baseball and various departments at the Mets. We are convinced that Jose has accepted responsibility for his actions and their consequences and have confirmed he is taking steps beyond those prescribed by MLB, including ongoing counseling. Accordingly, we believe he deserves a second chance to return to our organization.''

The Mets will be paying Reyes the league minimum & the Rockies eating $39 million, that's how fed up they were with him.

Reyes will start in Brooklyn with the A ball Cyclones & play about a week worth of games there before coming up to the big league club.

Quotes: Jose Reyes: ''As I have expressed in the past, I deeply regret the incident that occurred and remain remorseful and apologetic to my family. I have completed the counseling required by MLB, have been in ongoing therapy, and will continue with counseling going forward. I appreciate the Mets organization for believing in me and providing the opportunity to come back home to New York.''

Jun 22, 2016

2015 NL Champion Mets Italian / American Reserve Outfielder: Darrell Ceciliani (2015)

 Darrell Ceciliani was born on June 22nd 1990 in Tracy, California. At a young age he moved to Madras, Oregon, growing up there on a family cattle ranch. In the off season he still works at the Family Farm.

The six foot one left hand hitting outfielder, attended Columbia Basin College at Pasco Washington. He was selected by the New York Mets in the 4th round of the 2009 draft. Ceciliani is a good swift runner known more for speed & contact hitting rather than his power.

He spent 2009 in the Rookie League at Kingsport, getting promoted to A ball Brooklyn Cyclones in 2010. He had a fine year there, making the All Star team & finishing with the highest batting average in Cyclones history, batting .351 with 21 stolen bases & 12 triples in 68 games. He credits former Met Wally Backman, the Cyclones manager at the time, as well as coach Benny Distefano for bettering his hitting.

In 2011 he went to the Savanah Sand Gnats falling off to a .259 average, hitting more doubles than usual with 23. In 2012 he was at A ball St. Lucie, having a fine year hitting .329 but constant leg injuries limited him to just 23 games.

In 2013 he was promoted to AA Binghamton, having his healthiest season. Ceciliani played in 113 games, mostly in centerfield (58 games) & left (48 games). He hit .268, never a power hitter, he hit just 6 HRs, with 17 doubles & a career high 44 RBIs. On the base paths, the swift Ceciliani stole 31 of 38 bases and had six triples.  

Ceciliani got a surprise chance to play with the Mets at Spring training in 2014, donning one of the highest uniform numbers #93. He appeared on Sunday March 22nd, going 0-1 grounding into an 8th inning ending double play in the Mets 3-1 win over Washington. He spent 2014 at AA Binghamton batting .289 with 7 HRs 16 stolen bases & 54 RBIs while scoring 59 runs in 106 games.

He began 2015 with the AA Las Vegas 51's under his old Cyclones Manager; Wally Backman. After 37 games he was batting .336 with 5 HRs 7 doubles 17 RBIs & six steals. That got him promoted to the Mets big league squad in mid May.

On May 19th he made his MLB debut appearing as a pinch hitter & collecting a base hit off Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field. On May 24th he got his first start going 0-4 at Pittsburgh in a 9-2 Mets loss. Thru the rest of May he went 0-6 as a pinch hitter, as his average fell to .125.

On June 1st he drove in his first run, a base hit at San Diego in a 7-0 Mets loss. On June 11th he started a personal four game hit streak that brought his average up to .270.

On Sunday June 14th, he hit his first career HR, it came in a 10-8 Mets comeback win over the Atlanta Braves, keeping the Mets in first place by 1/2 game. That day he also threw out Cameron Maybin at the plate to save a run. That week he got five hits in ten at bats.

He remained on the roster until July 5th when he was sent back to AAA Las Vegas.
In 39 games for the Mets he batted .206 with one HR & 3 RBIs. In February of 2016 he was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for cash or player to be named later.

 Trivia: Ceciliani has six tattoos, some of which include "strength & loyalty' down his arms, which he credits to his mother. He also has a Bible quote rom Philippians 4;13 on his ribs: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

From his young cattle ranch days, he is also branded with; Rocker 3 Ranch on his chest.

Ceciliani claims he has worn the same sox in all his big leagues games so far.

Quotes: Darrell Ceciliani- I try to play the game with a chip on my shoulder. Go out and play hard all the time. I play with a football mentality. Just a chip on my shoulder. I go out and battle. It's a dog fight."

Jun 17, 2016

Early 2000's Mets Pitcher: Bruce Chen (2001-2002)

Bruce Kastulo Chen was born on June 19, 1977 in Panama City, Panama. Although he was born & raised in Panama, he is of Chinese decent. The six foot two left hander was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves in 1993 making it to the big leagues five years later.

In 1998 he was a 12 game winner at A ball Macon, getting promoted to AA the next season. In 1999 he was 15-8 with a 3.09 ERA at AA Greenville & AAA Richmond. He would debut with Atlanta in 1998 & pitch briefly there for three seasons as a starter & reliever.

In the 2000 season he began at 4-0 before getting traded to the Philadelphia Phillies that June. In Philadelphia he fell to 3-4 and the next season was traded to the New York Mets for Turk Wendell & Dennis Cook. Two good middle relievers who were key to the Mets in getting to the post season the previous two seasons.  

Chen made his first Mets start in Houston on August 1st, pitching well allowing just two runs over six innings, but getting no decision. In his second start on August 7, 2001 he got his first Met victory against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. He pitched seven innings of shutout, two hit ball, striking out seven Brewers along the way.

At the end of August he picked up two more wins on a Shea home stand, including a seven inning, one run three hit performance against the San Francisco Giants. Then he got hit hard as the season came to end giving up five runs or more four times from August 29th through September.

In the classic September 21st game at Shea Satadium where baseball made its return to New York after the 911 attacks, Chen pitched a scoreless 6th inning of relief. It was in this game where Mike Piazza hit one of the most famous HRs in Mets regular season history, an 8th inning game winner against the Atlanta Braves.

After coming to New York Chen finished at 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA allowing ten HRs with 47 strike outs in 59 innings of work in eleven games. That season the Mets fell to a disappointing third place as a late season resurgence fell way short.

In 2002 after pitching just one game (0.2 innings) he was traded to the Montreal Expos along with Dicky Gonzalez, for Scott Strickland, Phil Seibel, and Matt Watson.  

Chen became a journeyman pitcher, moving on to the Cincinnati Reds (2002) Houston Astros (2003), Boston Red Sox (2003) Texas Rangers (2007) Baltimore Orioles (2004-2006) & Kansas City Royals (2009-2012).

In Baltimore with the Orioles Chen had his best season in 2005 going 13-10 posting a 3.83 ERA with 133 strikeouts in 197 innings pitched, all career highs.  

After pitching for Panama in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he fell to a disappointing 0-7 season with the Orioles. Chen’s biggest problem was giving the long balls; he is 191st all time in serving up HRs with 207. In 2005 & 2006 he allowed 61 HRs, and was in the top ten in the HRs allowed category both seasons. Chen found a new home in Kansas City pitching there now for five seasons through May 2013.

In 2010 the journey man pitcher had a decent season in Kansas City going 12-7 with one save & a 4.17 ERA. He posted back to back 12 win seasons (2010 & 2011) with the Royals & went on to lead the club in wins three straight seasons.

In 2012 he went 11-14 leading the league in starts with 34. He struck out 140 batters & walked just 47 in 191 innings pitched with a 5.07 ERA. In 2013 Chen was tied for third on the Royals staff with nine wins (9-4) He started 15 games but appeared in 34, posting a 2.27 ERA, he struck out 78 batters in 121 innings with 36 walks. 

At age 36 Chen is in his sixth year with the Royals in 2014. In four starts in April he was 1-2 with a 7.25 ERA getting demoted to AAA Omaha at the end of April.

In his 16 year career he is 81-78 with one save, 1118 strike outs & 536 walks in 1497 innings pitched in 389 career games with a 4.53 ERA (through May 2014).

Jun 11, 2016

Former Late 1980's Mets Player & David Wright's Agent: Keith Miller (1987-1991)

Keith Allen Miller was born June 12, 1963 in Midland, Michigan. The five foot eleven righty handed hitting Miller was a graduate of Oral Roberts College in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Miller was originally signed by the A.L. New York team but was a good man and didn’t sign there, opting for the New York Mets in 1984. His fine glove got him to AA Jackson by 1986 where he then hit .329 while stealing 28 bases. In 1987 he was brought up to AAA Tidewater becoming the Tides main second baseman for two seasons, batting a best .281 in 1988.

He was brought up briefly in 1987 after the Mets World Championship season to play middle infield behind Wally Backman, Tim Tuefel & Rafael Santana in mid June. He debuted on June 16th & got two hits in Montreal in a 7-3 Mets win against the Expos. He remained on the team until June 27th, was sent back to Tidewater returning to New York as a September call up. 

In his rookie year Miller hit .373 (19 – 51), while stealing eight bases, with a pair of triples & doubles. He played the game hard like his hero Pete Rose & was another gritty hardnosed player on a team with Len Dykstra & Wally Backman. As time went on, Miller became the ultimate utility player, playing all infield and outfield positions.

In 1988 he came up to the team in May but struggled at the plate. On June 18th he had a big moment as he singled off Philadelphia's Terry Frohwirth with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th inning in a tied game at Shea. His single scored Kevin McReynolds with the walk off game winning run.

On July 1st he then hit a rare HR against Jim Deshaies & the Astros also at Shea. He never hit as good as he did in his first year, batting only .214 that season & .231 the next year.

But he got more playing time by 1990 as he moved to the outfield, sharing time in center (61 games) with Mark Carreon & Daryl Boston. He brought his average up to .258 in 88 games, with one HR eight doubles & 12 RBIs. Defensively he posted a .980 fielding % making one assist.

In 1991 he saw the most playing time of his Mets career (98 games) having Mets career highs in hits (77) RBIs (23) & HRs (4) batting a solid .280. On August 30th he helped David Cone to a win when he singled off former Met Randy Meyers in the top of the 7th inning scoring Greg Jeffries on what would be the game winning run to beat the Reds 3-2.

In September he hit a 5th inning HR at Shea Stadium which turned out to also be a game winning hit in the Mets 3-2 win. He closed out the year strong, first driving in three of the four Mets runs against the Phillies in a 4-3 Met win on September 29th the last home game of the year, Fan Appreciation Day. Then in the final game of the year at Philadelphia he had a four hit day including a HR driving in two runs.

In December 1991, in a blockbuster trade, he was sent to the Kansas City Royals along with Gregg Jefferies and Kevin McReynolds in exchange for Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen & Bill Pecota.

Miller was in the 1992 Royals line up playing in second base, outfield, & DH enjoying career highs in games (106) batting (.284) HRs (4) & RBIs (38) while getting hit by 14 pitches (third most in the AL).

The next season he only played 37 games batting a low .167. He only saw a hand full of action over the next two seasons ending his playing career in 1995.

In a nine season playing career Miller was a career .262 hitter, with 347 hits 12 HRs 67 doubles 92 RBIs 190 runs scored & a .323 on base % in 465 games.

Retirement: After his playing days Miller took his baseball smarts and used them to become a player agent. Most famously he is agent for the Mets All Star David Wright.

He has worked an agent for players such as; Scott Rolen, Mike Sweeney & Brandon Inge.

Quotes: "I loved playing the game so much that to me it was the best job in the world," he says. "But I look at what I'm doing now as the second-best job in the world.

Jun 6, 2016

Mets Assistant General Manager : John Ricco (2004-2016)

John Ricco was born in Cresskill New Jersey in 1968. He attended Villa Nova University & landed a job as an intern with the AL New York club in 1991. Ricco then worked for MLB in the Commissioners office from 1992-2004. He was considered an expert in the Basic Agreement collectively bargained between the players & owners.

After that he took a job with the New York Mets as an assistant to the General Manager. He worked for the Omar Minaya Mets period & served as an interim GM after his dismissal. Ricco has since worked under Sandy Alderson.

In his role Ricco helps assist the General Manager as well as making sure all Sandy Alderson's decisions are legally accurate. He watches over all operations, manages the budget, monitors the waiver lines, as well as oversees all transactions & trade opportunities. Ricco also makes sure all the clubs records are correct as well as all the players contracts.

Ricco was in the spotlight on May 25th 2016 after Matt Harvey refused to talk to reporters after having another bad start in his  2016 campaign.

Jun 2, 2016

Mid Nineties Mets Pitcher: Jason Jacome (1994-1995)

Jason James Jacome was born November 24th 1970 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The six foot one left handed pitcher was drafted out of a Tulsa Community College by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 1991 draft.

He made his MLB debut on July 2nd, getting a start against that years NL Champion San Diego Padres in Southern California. He took a loss allowing just two runs on eight hits in six innings. On July 7th he got his second start & became the first Met in twenty years to toss a shut out in his second MLB start. That day he blanked the Dodgers in Los Angeles on a six hitter.

His next two starts came at Shea Stadium & he earned two more victories beating the Padres & San Francisco Giants. On July 27th he won his fourth straight game beating the Cards in St. Louis.

The Mets thought maybe they were on to something but it wasn't to be. He lost two of three starts in August and was shut down for the season.

He began 1995 getting a shot in the Mets rotation, his first start was in Colorado where he allowed just two runs in five inning getting no decision in a 8-7 Met loss. His May was terrible as he lost four straight games getting hit for four runs or better in each game.  In July of 1995, the Mets traded him to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later that turned out to be John Carter.

He saw action right away in Kansas City starting 14 games going 4-6 with a 5.36 ERA. The next year he was back in the bullpen but fell to 0-4. Midawy through 1997 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians where he saw action in 21 games going 2-0. In 1998 he pitched at AAA Buffalo getting a September call up where he pitched in one game. In that one game he allowed eight runs on ten hits & saw his ERA balloon to 14.40.

In 1999 & 2000 he played in Japan, pitching for the Yakult Swallows. Jacome never pitched in the majors again although he had signed minor league deals with Arizona, St. Louis, Houston & San Francisco. He would also pitch in the Independent & Mexican Leagues through 2009 as well as the World Cup events.

In a five year career he is 10-18 with a 5.34 ERA striking out 141 batters with 98 walks in 261 innings in 106 appearances (34 starts).