The 7 Line: An Army of “We’re Number One”

I finally joined the 7 Line Army. Every time I looked to sign up in the past, either there was no availability or I wasn’t available. But all that changed for a September tilt on a Monday against the Braves. There were spots available and I grabbed two for me and my buddy Dave. It is getting even harder to get these seats as the 7 Line now offers tickets to all their events on a season’s pass (about 14 games). That is the definition of hardcore.

The 7 Line is full on hardcore. As the site says, “We are absolutely the largest organized supporters group in all of baseball.” And Fox in Los Angeles, of all places, had a great segment on them recently, with the bonus of Kevin Burkhardt, who was in Flushing when it all began, narrating. As great as last year was, if there was one thing I could change—besides the final outcome!—it would have been for Kevin Burkhardt and Bobby Ojeda to broadcast their insights as it all came together on SNY. But time marches on.

So does the 7 Line. It was four years ago, at the 50th birthday party for Faith and Fear in Flushing’s Greg Prince, that I got to talk to 7 Line General Darren Meenan about his burgeoning empire. It was just getting off the ground as an entity that sold T-shirts and we lamented how working in a world with a Mets focus can wear on your soul, if you’re lucky, and be like banging your head on an exposed piece of Shea Stadium pipe if you’re not so lucky. But Darren persevered and the following season he had his first 7 Line road outing to Wrigley Field. His group has not slowed down since, going to 15 other road games (five of them in the other country that is the Bronx).

The 7 Line experience began at McFadden’s with beer specials and some mixed camaraderie. I missed the cue for all to head in, but we got to our seats in the second-to-last row shortly before first pitch. With so many regulars, it is easy to follow along with the cheering for two strikes and then the “Strike You Out” chant when someone K’s. There were kids there and grown ups who are definitely kids, along with the requisite Mets yakking, beer drinking, food chomping, and battling for T-shirts that are invariably canned into the sea of 1,700 arms.

As for attendance, there were 859 of us in section 141 in centerfield. That is roughly 3 percent of the 29,665 in the house Monday. Someone sitting in the other 97 percent of the seats might have thought the place a little dead—especially after the rare dud tossed by Noah—but given that my ears are still ringing from the Thunder Sticks slammed together all around me, it seemed pretty lively to me.

At $45, it was just about the lowest price they had this year, which is comparable or cheaper than most seats you’ll find on Stub Hub (those seats don’t include a cool T-shirt). And it was worth every penny. When a guy with 7 Line seats in line during last year’s playoffs told me that there is a postseason lottery for people who have bought tickets during the year, I thought that was the final motivation for induction into this Army. Not that I expect any such windfall from the ballclub or the 7 Line because, let’s face it, this is still the Mets and panic and disappointment are the chief exports. But I will remember my first 7 Line foray for some time to come. Maybe I’ll even finagle myself onto a road trip some day.

Oddly, one of things that sticks with me most was that amidst the cacophony, beer guzzling, and gob stuffing, someone behind me sneezed. In front of me came a very quick, “God bless you.” And God bless you 7 Line for doing the Lord’s work of Mets proselytizing, and doing it right.

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Not everyone can pursue a business model that is solely Mets, and I have two reissues of books I co-wrote that celebrates other teams. If I did not enjoy it, I would not do it. Cubs by the Numbers (with Al Yellon and Kasey Ignarski) is now out, as is Red Sox by the Numbers with Bill Nowlin. This is the summer of numerology, as Mets by the Numbers re-issue with Jon Springer is better than ever and more number-y!


One Hall of a Time in Cooperstown

I am beyond thrilled with the turnout and reception for my Hall of Fame talk on August 27. The Bullpen Theater was packed like Shea Stadium was in 1986, with standing room only and people sitting on the stairs and in the hallway to hear me talk about One-Year Dynasty. And my son took some video. I’ll warn that it may be a little shaky now and again, but the audio is fine. I haven’t watched it all the way because, to quote a movie in heavy airplay on premium cable in 1986, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, “I don’t have to watch it, Dottie, I lived it.”

But it was a great day, just like that late October Saturday in 1986. Thanks to the Hall of Fame and especially to Bruce Markusen and family for inviting me and for the great lunch afterward. Once again, thank you, Cooperstown. If you have never been there, you are really missing something. Including Mike Piazza’s plaque.


TV Timeout for Your Author/Usher

In 1986 my work about the New York Mets in One-Year Dynasty and working for the Houston Astros (or at least their minor league affiliate in Troy) would have put me in serious conflict. But 30 years later the ‘Stros are in the AL West, the Mets are sinking in the NL East, and they have about as much in common as their NY Penn affiliates cities in Brooklyn and Troy. Here is a piece that broadcast the other night on my life as an author/usher that aired on the CBS TV affiliate in Albany.

We filmed it last Wednesday, one of those days when nothing was going right. I got a late start after helping my daughter pack for school. My phone crapped in all things except its original use, but not before the GPS put me on the wrong side of Schenectady, leaving me and my poor directional skills to piece my way through traffic you wouldn’t believe for a town whose name you can’t spell. I almost lost my voice screaming at a virtual operator (no actual operators available, really?) to tell the station I’d be late. (Thanks to One-Year Dynasty photographer and fellow Valley Cat usher Dan Carubia for dealing with my hysterics over the phone.) When I got to the station 40 minutes late, we only had a few minutes before the set had to be cleared for the 5 o’clock news. Kelly O’Donnell makes it look like a walk in the park. And reporter Brittany Devane was still at Joseph Bruno Stadium filming highlights less than two hours before airtime (with a not-so-routine 40 minute drive back to the studio). They are young, smart, and way more professional than I’ll ever be.

Once upon a time, as a young reporter at a small paper, I used to resent how the TV people came in and took over a story I’d been working for weeks or months. But you know what? I never could have gotten all that together so fast. I would have filmed it this week for next week. Really appreciate their hard work and the great big plug for the show at Cooperstown on Saturday, August 27, at 1 p.m. I haven’t even started preparing yet for it, but after hanging with the WRGB crew, I’m a lot less anxious than I might have been. Kudos!


First Half Grades Are In

The 2015 season taught me that my upbringing from the pessimistic Mets school is not a way to live. Old habits die hard, but that run to the pennant after a disheartening first half showed me that things can change on a dime. The C grades earned for Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins turned into A’s by the end of the year. It also helped that Curtis Granderson started hitting, Wilmer Flores got his mojo, the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes, and the bullpen fell into line. Only a cruel stroke of midnight in the final moments of October ruined what could have been a third Mets championship. The Mets are staggering now and they can turn it around, but help is needed from within and without.

Last year I said in the midseason report card that the end may be near for David Wright, and I am afraid I am close to the mark this time. If you watched the end of Don Mattingly’s career in the mid-1990s, it was a lot like this. After years of toiling as a star for a team that never got near the postseason, the organization turns it around but the player is not the same. And it says everything about the team speed that Wright tops the club in steals, with 3. The team has 18 SBs, lowest in the majors, and even worse, a .213 or so average with men in scoring position. The Nationals have really stepped on their neck, with last year’s Mets hero Daniel Murphy being the main difference maker. A 7-1 start to the homestand followed by losing three straight to the Nats to finish the first half (and 6 of 7 to DC) leaves an aftertaste like milk and grapefruit juice.

And now we grade. To be included, players must accrue 50 at bats or 15 innings pitched. This prevents Jose Reyes, Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, Ty Kelly, Sean Gilmartin, Erik Goeddel, Seth Lugo, and Rafael Montero from getting proper grades. Though I will say the bold experiment of bringing back Reyes is off to a good start, though it is surprising he got 3 home runs before he got 3 steals (or any steals). And Nimmo has shown some moxie. Ironically Nimmo comes up the same time as Finding Nemo II, too. Pixar may have too much pull if they can keep Conforto under the sea.

First-half 2016 Report Card

Jeurys Familia      A        Probably the main reason the Mets are in this thing at all. Dominantly moving his way up all-time Mets closer ladder.

Noah Syndergaard   A        He has thrived even as the Mets do not score for him. Absolute shame he will not pitch in the All-Star Game.

Yoenis Cespedes  A        This guy is the Mets offense: .302/.372/.583, 21-52. Another absolute shame not to have him as starting All-Star.

Bartolo Colon       B+      Big Sexy All-Star. At 43 he is the most reliable starter, in terms of not missing starts and bouncing back after stumbles.

Addison Reed       B+     Mets bullpen has been spotty this year, but Reed has been spot on and is tied with Familia with 43 appearances.

Jacob deGrom      B       Velocity could be paying price for outstanding October, but his ERA is only 0.05 higher than Noah; 91 K’s aren’t bad.

Asdrubel Cabrera  B       He is the best Mets shortstop since Reyes. Has shown power, smarts, and a good glove. Plus a cool name.

Steven Matz        B       Let’s Go Matz is a rookie and is getting rooked. Started 7-1, 2.36; since then 0-4 and Mets scored 5 runs only once.

Hansel Robles      B       Hansel (Hansel?) has pitched long relief, finished 8 games, won 3, and tied with Familia at 42.1 innings. That is a lot.

Kelly Johnson       B       Kind of a surprise, but in less than 60 plate appearances as a Met (0.7), he is third in WAR and has a game-winning HR.

Wilmer Flores       B-      He needs to play every day until he falters, at 1B, 2B, 3B, wherever. HR off Ollie held off Nats sweep. Again.

Jerry Blevins        B-      Top Mets lefty by default, he has gotten big outs and has lowest WHIP in pen (0.947). Makes me nervous, though.

James Loney       B-      At this point he is pure replacement, but has shown good glove and timely hitting on a team that lacks both.

Neil Walker          C+     Just what Mets need: Another streaky player. How Cespedes is thriving batting in front of him says everything about Yo.

Jim Henderson     C+     Back from the baseball dead, he had some really good moments and some really ugly ones before getting hurt.

Michael Conforto   C       Maybe it is just me, but a guy who has been in the minors for weeks and is still third on team in RBI should be in NY.

David Wright        C       “C” is for captain. He came up 164 times before going down and should have a grade: .226/.350/.438 is what it is.

Travis d’Arnaud    C       Has full blown reputation as constantly hurt player and a catcher with a lousy arm. Not sure he is longterm answer.

Curtis Granderson     C      Walks a lot, strikes out even more, but he does have 15 HRs and seems to do better when batting second.

Lucas Duda          C       I may never get over that throw in Game 5, hopefully Lucas will as well as his bad back and his .231/.297/.431 line.

Juan Lagares        C       I don’t know if he has a spot on this team besides defensive replacement. Keeping him in case Cespedes opts out.

Logan Verrett       C-      A true swingman, he has gamely made 6 starts but in them he is 1-4, 5.64, double his ERA out of the bullpen.

Matt Harvey        C-      Final grade for year, sadly. Gave his all last year and deserved better than being booed off mound in last start.

Rene Rivera         C-      Yes, a .187 average is bad, but both arm and pop (3 HR, 13 RBI in 86 PAs) are better than any recent backup.

Kevin Plawicki        D       Rivera has completely outplayed prospect. Will KP ever hit? His catching is not so great, either. He does draw walks.

Antonio Bastardo   D-      A few superb outings with the game on the line is all that is keeping this Bastardo from failing and his ERA under 5.00.

Alejandro d’Aza     F       A complete waste. Same number of at bats as Lagares and is -81/-49/-117 below Juan. Why does he play at all?

Eric Campbell        F       When people ask why did Mets sign Reyes, the answer is: Would you rather see .159/.270/.222 on the roster?

Manager/GM

Terry Collins          B       Has helped keep Mets focused when they could have dropped out. Head scratching decisions, but they play for him.

Sandy Alderson      B+     Grade reflects getting, and keeping, talent in ’15; plus finding affordable fixes. Letting Murph go was a mistake, though.


Books for Dads and Grads

We are at the point in the year when three new versions of my books are out at the same moment. That’s publishing for you. But here is why all three make a great gift for Father’s Day and graduations—“Dads and Grads” being primo summer book pushes in the publishing world. Ready? Here we go!

One-Year Dynasty

One sentence summary: The story of the 1986 Mets, the most dominant season in team history followed by a pulsating postseason that turned into the franchise touchstone, and culminating with what happened to the organization in the years that followed.

Why buy for Dads: If you are a dad, you either saw this team or heard enough about the ’86 Mets where it’s time to really learn what happened, so that when junior asks why we root for them instead of the Yankees, you’ll have your answer ready: The Yankees win championships in big numbers; the Mets win championships in big ways. “Now eat your vegetables, kid!”

Why buy for Grads: If you are going on to Flushing University, you’ll probably major in Mets. And “1986 Mets: Introduction to Awesomeness” is a 200 level course. In terms of partying though, the ’86 Mets are at a postgrad level.

100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die (For latest edition, get book with orange letters on front and deGrom on back)

One sentence summary: What, the title wasn’t long and explanatory enough… well, I added lots of new stuff in the third edition about the current team, including Terry Collins, the Fantastic Four staff, updates on last postseason, Mets finances, trades, and Daniel Murphy’s crazy October cracks the top 20 (oh, if only the Mets would have justified this making the top 5).

Why buy for Dads: Dads get asked all kinds of questions about everything by kids, who expect cogent answers. I remember as a youngster watching The Courtship of Eddie’s Father with the Hulk and the kid on the Yankees in The Bad News Bears who wouldn’t throw the ball because he was miffed that his dad, Vic Morrow from Combat, slapped him on the field. What was the question again?

Why buy for Grads: All that fancy book learning and they don’t even know how many different stadiums the Mets have appeared in for a game. Give up? It’s 55. And that’ll be the grade you get on the test if you don’t bone up on everything Mets fans should… you know.

Mets by the Numbers (2nd edition)

One sentence summary: Jon Springer’s mbtn.net site comes to life once more on all things Mets uniform numbers, and the book is even more uniform numbery than before, with all the new numbers and personalities added since the first edition in 2008—edition 2 is still No. 1.

Why buy for Dads: I am just a co-star here, but I will say that I have had some of the best comments from some of the smartest Mets fans about this book. Besides changing every chapter, we added almost all new pictures, thanks mostly to overflowing vaults of Jason Kanarek and Dan Carubia. We have images of Mets from Eddie Kranepool to Bartolo Colon, and numbers are busting out all over.

Why buy for Grads: After studying for 12, 16, or 20-plus years, you may be worn down from all that school reading. This is the perfect book to get you back on track for pleasure reading. The history of the Mets by uniform number, told through stories, uni numbers, and stats. Sit back, relax, and take a number.

Can’t decide which one to buy? Well, buy them all, of course. If you want to buy from me and get an autograph of whatever you want, email me on the site with subject line “Buy Book,” and we’ll get cracking. Or if you want to mail me a copy, I’ll be glad to sign and mail it back. We aims to please.


You Tube One-Year Dynasty Fade to Black

My son, Ty, not to be confused with new Met Ty Kelly (with #55, not a lot is expected of that Ty), is proud of his papa and loaded my talk on WAMC on youtube, so we are linking up. But we do discuss the relevant topic with Northeast Public Radio host Joe Donahue: “Why does Matt Harvey suck so much?” I think Dan Warthen will be calling me tomorrow to get me to tap into the Dark Knight’s psyche.

The youtube link is here. And it is one dark screen, so try out this link on where you can pick up One-Year Dynasty to keep your eyes busy.


Doubleheader Sweep, WAMC Link, Hall Call

I am doing limited appearances this year for One-Year Dynasty, but please use this as a Save the Date invitation: I will speak at the NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME IN COOPERSTOWN ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, AT 1 P.M. Even after doing it in 2001 and 2013, it is still an Amazin’ honor, but that’s all there is to say about it right now. So I will tell you about the day-night doubleheader of promotion on May 20.

The daytime portion was at the WAMC Northeast Public Radio in Albany. I wake up to the station every morning, so it was kind of a big thing for me to visit the studio and see the people whose voices I had long heard. I even set up my Twitter account on my phone (if you care, most of my writing and posting is done from my desktop on my, well, desk). When I was in the green room, though, I got just nervous enough to forget to inundate my Twitter peeps with imminent warnings of my on air arrival. But it’s OK. If you missed it live or in the headline, here is the link.

After flipping through a copy of Ansel Adams in Color in the green room, I started re-reading my book as if in the final minutes before an exam for which I knew the material like I’d written the book, so to speak. Joe Donahue is a real pro and made me feel at home and we had a great talk. I then got in my car, drove 50 miles back to work, got off work, got back in the car, and drove to the exact same block for the nighttime book-signing portion at the Low Beat.

Run by Howard Glassman, the Low Beat is a Mets centric location in Yankeesland. His previous bar, Valentine’s, served a similar need in the Capital District. We set up the idea when I saw him at a Brooklyn Cyclones-Tri-City Valley Cats game last August. Nine months later a unique and wonderful day was born. Thanks to Dan Carubia, Arnold Dorman, Howard, Mike and Linda (not sure I got that 100 percent right), and everyone else who came on down. It was fun to pontificate from a barstool with the Mets winning, live music cranking, and a Narragansett at my elbow. Cheers!


Kevin Mitchell Still Coming Up Big

There were a lot of nervous moments in the finale of the Mets-Padres series in San Diego. But the one that had me as nervous as any situation was when San Diego native Kevin Mitchell entered the booth and talked with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling.

Mitchell was a Met for one year (and parts of a couple others as a September call-up), but he is still a beloved figure in Mets lore. It was his hit, of course, that kept the impossible rally going during the 10th inning of Game Six of the ’86 World Series. It is a linchpin in any 1986 retelling, as it certainly is for One-Year Dynasty. (Come to think of it, that could also be the name for Mitch’s one-year Mets career before going on to be MVP.)

I got a hold of Mitch a year ago after several failed attempts due to health concerns, which left him unable to move for a time. Finally we talked at length on the phone. It was a remarkable interview, and he set a few things straight. One of them was whether he was in the locker room at Shea, naked from the waist down, making reservations to fly home to his native San Diego as the rally began and he was summoned to pinch hit against Mets prospect turned Red Sox closer Calvin Schiraldi. The story has gone around for years and he once even confirmed it for a writer. Ballplayers and their memories can be fluid. Some remember every detail like it just happened a few hours ago. Others seem to have the ability to boil their entire career into one hell of a story that occurred all in one day. I don’t get a lot of scoops, but this one felt as much like a scope for a 30-year-old event. Yet it would be knocked out of the water if he said on the air that he pinch-hit commando.

I breathed easier when Darling said, “Of course you were on the bench the whole time.” Knew it all along. So did Mitch.

Contrary to urban myth, Mitchell was in the dugout the whole time, pants on, ready to pinch-hit. Where else would he have been? “I’ll tell everybody right now: How in the hell was I able to be on deck and get a base hit? I’m a rookie. What the hell am I going to be doing in the clubhouse?” Mitchell said, denying the oft-told story that he had taken off his pants in the clubhouse in the 10th while making plane reservations for home in San Diego. “Everybody has a story to build up the hype. I’m in a World Series game. And I’m learning something, my first World Series. Mookie Wilson told me, ‘Be prepared to hit.’ . . . Why would I be making a reservation when the Mets pay for your flight to go home? As a rookie? Tell me that.”

As an aside, don’t ask him about cutting off a cat’s head—a myth started by Dwight Gooden and perpetuated even in recent years by Darryl Strawberry. Suffice to say, it’s also false. But do ask Mitchell about his at bat against his former minor league roommate, Calvin Schiraldi.

“That was true,” Mitchell said. “He would always talk about how he’d pitch me. And I took the first pitch for a strike on an inside fastball. [Footnote: It was a foul ball on a checked swing.] He always said that he’d start me off with a fastball inside and then he’d throw me a slider. And he did it. And I looked for the slider on the next pitch and got it.”

[One-Year Dynasty, Chapter 14, 2016, Lyons Press]

But then again I’ve known for 30 years that you could trust Kevin Mitchell to come up big when you needed him most. Glad to see he’s feeling a lot better than he was a year ago.

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Going to be in the Albany area on Friday May 20? Or if you weren’t planning to be there, change plans and come on up for Happy Hour on Friday, May 20, at 6 p.m. to the Low Beat. It is the Mets bastion of light in the upstate universe. I’ll be selling One-Year Dynasty and I will also have the new edition of 100 Things Mets Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. We’ll watch the Mets game and down a couple.

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First review of One Year Dynasty goes to Lloyd Carroll. Writing for Queens publication Good Times Magazine, Carroll said, “For those who want to relive ’86 in vivid detail, check out Matt Silverman’s One-Year Dynasty (Lyons Press). Silverman, who has written many books on the Mets, gets the little details down, including how Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell appeared on MTV with Martha Quinn. he also gets a few of the Mets to admit the fear they had for Houston Astros pitcher Mike Scott, and some admit they would have lost Game 7 to them if they had to face him in the National League Championship Series for a third time.” And the first reviewer on amazon.com said it was “fantastic.” Well, my ego’s been soothed for a week.


One-Year Dynasty and the Greatness of 1986

May 1, 2016 is what’s called the publication date for One-Year Dynasty, my new book about the last Mets world champion, 30 years old. Will we ever see another world champion? It may be sooner than we could dream or it could be another 30 years. (God, I hope not.)

I don’t know when the next Mets parade will be, but I do know all about the last one. I believe the 1969 world championship will always be the most important title in club history, but 1986 is the most significant, surely now, because it is the one in the most people’s mindset. Even if they weren’t yet born, there are everyday reminders of what that team did. But how did they really do it, day by day, month by month, when it was actually happening? How did they own New York? What was New York like in the grips of a Mets frenzy? It was the kind that is all the more rabid because it will not last forever—a fever burning hot and then it’s gone. One-Year Dynasty: Inside the Rise and Fall of the 1986 Mets, Baseballs One-and-Done Champions is for the people who never lost the fever, and those who cam along too late to appreciate that ’86 team.

I looked at dozens of hours of video (thank you, Larry DC), read tons of old newspapers, magazines, books, and dug up other stuff I had forgotten ever existed. And I dug up people who were there, whether playing for the team, managing them, sitting in the press box, or, in the case of Ed Randall, flying over Shea Stadium when the pennant could have gone either way.

It was an incredible season. The Mets were as dominant as any National League team between the birth of the World Series in 1903 and the addition of the wild card and the extra playoff rounds that, frankly, have watered down division titles and made it hard to compare them with teams of the past who, like the 1985 Mets could win 98 game and go home with nothing. Experts on the subject claim the ’86 Mets are still one of the 10 best teams of all time. And yet their victory after being down to their last out in the World Series with no one on base and down by two runs is still the most unlikely comeback ever.

Relive it with Keith and Davey, Wally and Mookie, Bobby O. and Kevin Mitchell, plus fans, writers, bloggers, and dazed Red Sox players and followers. It’s the ’86 Mets. Still coming to your town, they’re going to party it down. Big ’80s, big life.

As I did with Swinging ’73, I place baseball in the context of its times. Everything from the music (Wang Chung, anyone?) to the movies (Bueller, Bueller? Maverick?) to the Pittsburgh Drug Trials to collusion to Geraldo’s debacle of Al Capone’s vault to MTV to the tragedy of what happened to some of the stars and the whole organization in the years to follow, right up until the current resurgence. Everything about the Mets goes back to 1986. Three decades later, they’re still trying to get back to that stage where they own the late innings of late October. That is how a dynasty is formed, even it lasts a year on the field, it is still in the mind.

I am not planning a lot of promotion, at least not initially, except for a signing at the Low Beat in Albany around 6 p.m. on Friday, May 20. I’m glad to send signed copies to people for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduation, and all the days in between. Contact me at the site, if you’d like.

But remember ’86, celebrate ’86. It is the touchstone for Mets fans young and old. It was the Mets painted as big and bold as they can be, backing up the talk, making us sweat, and covering us in the sticky residue of champagne and beer. Maybe the boys stayed too long and loud at the party. But it’s where we come from. It’s our Mets DNA.


Going Long for Spira Award

Jeff Long of Baseball Prospectus won the fourth annual Greg Spira Award, given to writers under 30 whose pieces on baseball display innovative analysis and reasoning. There have been some pieces that deal with people more than numbers and Long’s BP article sort of dealt with both. he used state of the art programs to compare players of different skill sets and came up with some interesting results. Interesting enough for the $1,000 first prize.

The $200 second prize went to Jon Feyan for his homework. His capstone project for gradual school at Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin looked at analytics through eyes of baseball personnel. It is intriguing how that argument has completely turned around from a decade ago from maverick outcasts when Moneyball first came out to the way business is done.

In between doing his high school homework, 18-year-old Ben Diamond looked at the success rate of shoulder surgery for pitchers. It is not the slam dunk experts would have you believe. Remember Johan Santana? Diamond got $100 for his third-place entry. Here is the release with links to all the three winning entries. 

Great job not just writing these pieces, but getting the pieces in for the Greg Spira Award, named after a good friend and a great Mets fan who died too young from kidney disease. We worked together on the Maple Street Press Mets Annual for four years and I’ve been judging this for four years without him. He would have turned 49 this week and he would have loved seeing the Mets finally sticking to a plan.

And if you knew Greg or know someone going through the pain of losing a sibling, Greg’s brother Jonathan just came out with a book on the subject of dealing with the death of a loved one.