Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Canha 4, Phillies 1


Mark Canha celebrating at first base after two runs came home on his fourth-inning single. Photo by Jason Schott.

Mark Canha provided all the offense the Mets needed in a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night at Citi Field. The Amazin's also got a solid start from Carlos Carrasco, who won his second straight outing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Senga Shuts Out Phillies To Open Pivotal Series


Philadelphia's Kyle Schwarber swung at missed at this offering from the Mets' Kodai Senga in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

Kodai Senga threw seven shutout innings to lead the Mets to a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night at Citi Field to open this three-game series.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Books: Just In Time For Memorial Day, "Franklin Smoke: Wood. Fire. Food."


Franklin Smoke: Wood. Fire Food.

By Aaron Franklin and Jordan Mackay

Ten Speed Press; hardcover, 224 pages; $35.00

Aaron Franklin is one of the most recognized names in barbecue and the New York Times bestselling coauthor, with Jordan Mackay of Franklin Barbecue and Franklin Steak. His restaurant, Franklin Barbecue, is in Austin, Texas, and it has won every major barbecue award and been featured in magazines such as Bon Appetit and GQJordan Mackay is a James Beard Award-winning writer on food, wine, and spirits, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Wine & Spirits, and Food & Wine.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Yankees' Vasquez Has Strong Debut, But Musgrove & San Diego Sluggers Seal Win Late


Randy Vasquez's first pitch in the Major Leagues to Fernando Tatis, Jr. Photo by Jason Schott.

The San Diego Padres, led by a great start from Joe Musgrove and a pair of two-run home runs from Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis, Jr., took the series opener from the Yankees at a sold-out Yankee Stadium, 5-1, on Friday night.

Yankees Release Hicks; Boone Says He “Did some really good things here”


The Yankees open a three-game set on Friday night with the San Diego Padres, seen here taking batting practice. Photo by Jason Schott.

On Friday afternoon, the Yankees announced that they have released outfielder Aaron Hicks.

This season, Hicks was hitting .188 with one home run and five RBI in 28 games, and he was designated for assignment last Saturday.

After arriving in a trade with the Minnesota Twins in November 2015, Hicks began playing for the Yankees the following season. His best performances in The Bronx were in 2017, when he hit .266 with 15 home runs and 52 RBI, followed by 27 home runs and 79 RBI, while hitting .248, in ‘18.

Those seasons prompted the Yankees to sign him to a seven-year, $70 million deal ahead of the 2019 season, and there is still two-plus years left on that the Yankees will likely have to cover.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was asked if there was a possibility Hicks could have gone to the minors after he was DFA’d, and his final thoughts on Hicks’ tenure with the Yankees, and he said, “I don’t think so. I think it was going to be something would happen (likely referring to a trade) or the result today of the outright release.

“I hope what doesn’t get lost is a couple of really good seasons that he had here, had some good postseason moments here, and then some injuries, you know, really, you know, impacted his time here, probably impacted his career and his ability to get back to that level. You know, Tommy John (surgery), wrist, you know, just different things that would pop up with him that, I think, you know, had an adverse effect, but hopefully, as time - you get time removed - understand that he had some really good seasons here and did some really good things.”

So Much For A "Clean Slate": Mets Designate Sanchez For Assignment

Gary Sanchez at-bat in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. Photo by Jason Schott.

Last Friday, Mets Manager Buck Showalter said that ex-Yankee Gary Sanchez would have a "clean slate" across town, with options to be used as catcher or designated hitter.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Books: "Spyfail" By James Bamford On U.S. Counterintelligence


Spyfail: Foreign Spies, Moles, Saboteurs, and the Collapse of America's Counterintelligence

By James Bamford

Twelve; hardcover, 496 pages; $32.00

James Bamford is a bestselling author of The Puzzle Palace and Body of Secrets, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker for PBS, award-winning investigative producer for ABC News, and winner of the National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of the Iraq war for Rolling Stone. Also of note is that he has circumnavigated the surface of the Earth, crossing every meridian of longitude by land and sea, and was elected to membership in the Explorers Club.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Orioles Rain On Yankees' Parade, As Eight Late Runs Spoil Gleyber Day


Gleyber Torres approaching the plate on his second home run of the night in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees got two home runs from Gleyber Torres as they raced out to a 5-1 lead before the Baltimore Orioles stormed back with eight runs in the seventh inning on their way to a 9-6 win on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Books: Hit Novel By British Literary Phenom Eliza Clark Arrives In U.S.


Boy Parts

By Eliza Clark

Harper Perennial/HarperCollins Publishers; paperback, 304 pages; $18.99; available today, Tuesday, May 23rd

Eliza Clark was born in the UK in 1994. Her debut novel Boy Parts was released in July 2020, and was made Blackwell's Fiction Book of the Year. In 2022, Eliza was chosen as a finalist for the Women's Prize Futures Award for writers under 35 and was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2023. Her next novel, Penance, is due for release in 2023.

The heroine of this captivating novel is Irina, a tall stunning redhead who is put on a sabbatical from her job at a bar when a woman storms in, strikes her and leaves. She cries in front of her bosses, but deep down, she is thrilled. 

Irina is now free to pursue the art that landed her at the far end of the punch from that woman, who is also a mother. Camera slung low, she takes explicit photographs of average looking young men she discovers in her travels through Newcastle, such as from a chance encounter on the bus or the checkout line in the supermarket.

The narrative voice Irina uses to tell the story shows her to be scathingly observant and brutally, hilariously clear about her own motives and the mixed motives of those who are in her life, including her obsessively ambivalent best friend and the shy boys she poses in erotic, disturbing poses.

Irina is both the party girl who will debate the wisdom of cutting coke in the club's ladies' room, or acidly weigh the widsom of her best friend's wardrobe choices. Overriding all of that is her ambition to leave Newcastle behind and be an artist in the larger world.

While Irina feels exiled from the London art scene, her talent is still getting noticed. She is invited to display her work at a fashionable London gallery, and it is also a chance for her to revive her career and escape from the rut of clubbing and extreme cinema she's fallen into. 

As Irina prepares for the exhibit, she delves into her archives and follows clues she left for herself about a series of images she took years earlier. She thinks she can hold it together, but this sends her on a self-destructive tailspin.

Clark writes this in a refreshing way, as there really aren't traditional chapters, but parts on who she encounters in her journey, and they have titles such as Dean/Daniel, Juvenilia, Will, Eddie From Tesco, and Remy. It is an accessible style because there are text messages and emails as they would appear on a screen, so visually it jumps out to the reader and makes you immerse yourself even more into the story. 

This excerpt is from the section called Freshers: "I wake up a full twenty-four hours later on my sofa, bag of chips completely defrosted in my lap. I bin them, and promptly head to the shower, where I sit under the spray for a solid half an hour, wedged into the bottom of the bath.

I had one of those horrible post-party dreams. I don't usually have dreams. If I do, they're always these repetitive, black-and-white things, where I'm squeezing through a series increasingly small doors, or chasing something, or losing teeth. That is, unless I've drunk a lot, or taken something.

I dreamt about a boy. The boy from the toilet, I think. He was sitting at a bus stop, and I was trying to speak to him. He started screaming, and I tried to cover his mouth. My hand slipped inside him, down his throat. His head fell off. Still shrieking, his head was looped around my arm like a bracelet, my hand poking out the bottom of his neck. I flicked the head off my wrist, and it smashed on the ground like a plat. Then I woke up.

The dye I brighten my hair with tints the water a rusty shade of orange; it pools behind me, damned by my thighs which squeak against the bath when I move. Shampoo, conditioner and three going-overs with the most pungent soap Lush has to offer, and I still feel like the smell of Monday night is on me. My nana, a heavy smoker, used to wash her hair with half a cup of laundry detergent; I bet that'd do the trick for me now. I can't get the smell of fags (editor's note: British term for cigarettes) and booze and weed out of my hair.

I give up after an hour, too hungry for another round of shampoo and conditioner.

The food in my house is limited, but I can't bring myself to leave. I'm not getting a takeaway: the solo hangover-takeaway is the domain of women who eat their feelings. 

Bag salad it is, I suppose. I grab one from the fridge and open it. I drain a tin of tuna and dump it in the bag, giving it a little shake. I chuck in a handful of olives, a spoonful of mustard, give it another shake and it's basically a Nicoise salad. I go back to the sofa and check my phone: two percent battery and fifty-odd notifications, which makes me want to hurl the f**king thing through the window.

I like partying, but I loathe the aftermath. I need to stop letting people have my phone number. Maybe that's something to do while I'm off - new sim card, new phone even. I've got that cash from Mr B burning a hole in a pocket. My phone purrs greedily when I plug it in. Four missed calls from Flo, a series of texts from her, from Will, and one or two from Finch. Finch, I check first; he's just letting me know he sent me his photos, and could I look at them when I'm finished vomiting, and later, could I ring Flo back when I'm awake and able. I reply to him first. I don't quite have the strength for Will's essay, or Flo's simpering apologies. I have twenty texts from Flo and seventeen from Will.

Later. I leave my phone in the kitchen, opting to spend the afternoon in the arms of my archive. All my uni stuff is in my studio. I grab the first two boxes and drop them in my living room. I set myself up on the floor with a coffee, a cushion, and my Salade Nicoise dans un sac.

I crack open the lid of box one, marked CSM, FRESHERS in Sharpie. I only applied to art schools in London, and I got into a few, but went for Central Saint Martins in the end. It seemed like the coolest one, to be honest. Colin told me not to; he said the CSM Fine Art cours was more for people chasing shock value than people with any actual talent, that it'd be a different story if I was doing fashion, or something, but I wasn't. He was half right.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Comeback Kid Mets Sweep Doubleheader From Cleveland, Have Won Five In A Row

Max Scherzer pitching to Mike Zunino in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets did it again on Sunday, as they scored a pair of comeback victories over the Cleveland Guardians in their doubleheader at Citi Field. They also got superb outings from their pair of aces, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander. They won five straight to close this homestand and run their record to 26-23, and have climbed back into second place in the National League.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Yankees Finally Rid Themselves Of Hicks As They Bring Back Greg Allen

Keep going: The lasting image of Aaron Hicks, as described below. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees, who have been a tear lately, greatly improved their ballclub in the last 24 hours, as they brought back outfielder Greg Allen in a trade with the Boston Red Sox on Friday night, and to make room for him on the roster, they eliminated their biggest albatross, Aaron Hicks.

Mets-Guardians Rained Out Saturday; Double Dip Set For Sunday with Scherzer & Verlander On Mound


Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets made the prudent decision to postpone Saturday's game against the Cleveland Guardians, with rain throughout the day, and will now be set to play a split-admission doubleheader on Sunday.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Mets Making A Habit Of Big Comebacks, Led By Alonso & Alvarez


Pete Alonso connecting on his seventh-inning game-tying grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

Just as they did on Wednesday night, when they had a wild comeback win over the Tampa Bay Rays, with a by-comparison mundane win on Thursday afternoon over the Rays in between, the Mets stormed back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the Cleveland Guardians, 10-9 on Friday night at Citi Field.

Buck On Ex-Yankee Gary Sanchez Joining Mets: “This is a clean slate”


Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets made a surprising, although not unexpected, move on Thursday night when they activated catcher Gary Sanchez, who began his career with the Yankees, and he is on the roster for Friday night’s game against Cleveland.

Sanchez burst on the scene with the Yankees in August 2016, when he hit 20 home runs in 53 games, and was viewed as their top phenom over Aaron Judge, who struggled in his initial appearances in The Bronx.

In his first full season with the Yankees in 2017, he was an All-Star and a big part in their run to the American League Championship Series, as he hit .278 with 33 home runs and 90 RBI in 131 games.

The following season, Sanchez’s average dipped to .186, but he still hit 18 homers and had 53 RBI.

In 2019, he bounced back and was an All-Star again, as he hit 34 home runs with 77 RBI, as he got his batting average back up to .232 and his on-base percentage was .316.

Sanchez then took a step back in the pandemic season of 2020, and that continued into ‘21, when he was constantly booed at Yankee Stadium, as his strikeout total (121) and .204 average outweighed his 23 home runs and 54 RBI.

Then, just before the 2022 season, as spring training commenced after the lockout, Sanchez was jettisoned to Minnesota, along with infielder Gio Urshela for third baseman Josh Donaldson and catcher Ben Rortvedt. (That trade hasn’t exactly worked out for the Yankees, but that’s another day and another cup of coffee, as Niles Crane would say.)

In his one year with the Twins, Sanchez hit .205 with a .282 on-base percentage, 16 home runs, and 61 RBI, with 136 strikeouts in 128 games.

The San Francisco Giants signed Sanchez in the offseason, and he played 16 games at their Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento, where he hit just .164, so once he wasn’t added to their 40-man roster by May 1, he opted out.

The Mets signed him to a minor-league contract on May 9, and they had 10 days to decide on whether he would come to Queens, and after he hit .318 with a 1.077 OPS in seven games, he is here.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter said of Sanchez’s path here in his pregame remarks on Friday afternoon, “He’s getting a chance to play in the big leagues when it looked like it might not happen for him again. I think he understands that that opportunity is one he needs to take advantage of.”

Showalter said of how he intends to use him, “We’ll see how it evolves. I’m going to let him settle in for a day. Obviously did it last night and talked to (backup catcher) Michael (Perez). That was tough, Mike had a really good game last night, kind of goes unnoticed about that one, I thought he was solid, but it’s another good depth for us, but we’ll see.

“Alvy (Francisco Alvarez) will catch tonight, and we’ll let things kind of shake out a little bit and see what tomorrow brings. He’s doing well down there (at Syracuse) and we’re going to see if he can contribute for us. I think he’s got that possibility, but exactly how it evolves, I want to kind of let it settle in first.”

On what reports he got from Sanchez’s play in the minors: “He’s impacting the ball well, that’s the way I’ve heard it described. I’ve seen Gary a lot over the years with the Yankees while I was with the Orioles. We all know he can throw, that tool is still there…Good teammate, really got after it there, absorbed a lot of things. We’re really respectful of what the Yankees and Minnesota and San Francisco have tried to do; they also didn’t have room for him, so we’ll see. We made room and we’re going to take a look at it.”

When Showalter was asked if this is an addition for Sanchez, he quipped, “Isn’t everything? Hope he makes it hard on us, and we look for ways to create.” 

That basically is referring to him keeping his spot on the roster when catchers Tomas Nido and Omar Narvaez return in the next few weeks.

On whether Sanchez would be an option at designated hitter, Buck said, “Yeah, I could do that if I want to kind of roll that way. It’s a little bit of a chance you take, but I could do that, so that makes him an option, right. Everybody’s an option except me, I am out of options in more ways that one.”

Showalter was then asked what changes Sanchez has made as a hitter, and he said, “I’m locked in on these 26 (players) and he’s one of them now. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the people that are there evaluating and looking abc watching and helping and projecting, and, you know, I’m anxious to see if the good things he was doing carry over up here.

“He’s done it in the past, but we’ll see. I’m just starting to get to know him and you know at some point you listen, you listen and then you go, ‘okay, let him have an open mind without any preconceived - I think players appreciate that and like that, that you don’t come into it, where everything that happened in the past is going to happen again, good and bad. 

“So, this is a clean slate, and let’s see how it goes. 

“The challenge for me is to get the playing time for everybody. We’ve got a lot of people here, and that’s the good thing, that they’re used to playing, so I got to manage that.”

Sanchez, who wore number 24 in The Bronx, will be wearing 33 with the Mets, which was last worn by another catcher, James McCann. 

Books: "Murder on Mustang Beach" By Alicia Bessette


Murder on Mustang Beach

By Alicia Bessette

Berkley; hardcover; $28.00

Alicia Bessette is the author of the Outer Banks Bookshop Mysteries, a pianist, published poet, and enthusiastic bird-watcher. Before her career as an author, she was a reporter in her home state of Massachusetts, where her writing won a first-place award from the New England Newspaper & Press Association. Her website is

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Alonso Homers Again, Megill Mows Down Rays As Mets Take Series

Pete Alonso (left) is about to fist bump Brett Baty after his fourth-inning home run on Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jason Schott.


The Mets beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2, on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field to take the series, as Pete Alonso hit another monster home run, and they got another great start, this time from Tylor Megill.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Vientos Starts Mets’ Comeback Past Rays On Way To Their Best Win Of Season


Mark Vientos crossing the plate on his seventh-inning home run. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets had their best win of the season on Wednesday night at Citi Field, as they battled back from 2-0, 5-2, and 7-5 deficits to stun the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-7, in 10 innings, powered by home runs from Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, and Pete Alonso.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Rays Rock Verlander, With A Pair Of Paredes Homers, As They Continue Their New York Week

Isaac Paredes approaching the plate on his first home run of the night in the third inning. Photo by Jason Schott.


The Tampa Bay Rays are spending a week in New York, which began this past weekend with a split against the Yankees and continued on Tuesday night as they opened a three-game set with the Mets at Citi Field in style.

Mets Send Peterson To Triple-A In Hope It’s “Start of him presenting a better option”


David Peterson pitching against Atlanta on April 28. Photo by Jason Schott.

After another tough outing on Monday, the Mets optioned left-handed starter David Peterson to Triple-A Syracuse. In a corresponding move, the Mets called up left-handed reliever Josh Walker from Syracuse.

Peterson fell to 1-6 with an 8.08 ERA (earned run average) after he allowed six runs (all earned) on nine hits and two walks, with five strikeouts, in five innings against the Nationals in a game the Mets went on to lose, 10-3.

Mets Manager Buck Showalter said of Peterson in his pregame remarks on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the start of their series with Tampa Bay, “Well, you know, it’s like I told him today, you know it’s good that I’ve seen him really good because, if it was just on this year, and, I mean, can you all imagine having something at your fingertips or disposal or whatever and you just can’t get to it, like a power hitter or somebody that’s done real well in the big leagues and can’t get it going, which is the case with some of our guys, so it’s got to be really frustrating for him, but you try to draw a line and say, ‘let’s start right here.’

“There were some things that were better yesterday, believe it or not. We looked at some of the things he hadn’t been doing, but every time he made a mistake, he got whacked, so hoping Sunday’s the start of him presenting a better option because, you know, we’re going to need him, and if he doesn’t get it going down there, we’ll have to go in another direction, right.”

Peterson will be making his next start with Triple-A Syracuse, and judging from how Showalter put it, likely will be a number of starts down there to get on track. 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Books: "Between Two Strangers" By Kate White


Between Two Strangers

By Kate White

Harper Paperbacks/HarperCollins Publishers; paperback, 304 pages; $18.99; available this Tuesday, May 16th

Kate White is the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and the New York Times bestselling author of the standalone psychological thrillers The Second Husband, The Fiancee, and The Secrets You Keep, as well as eight Bailey Weggins mysteries. She has also written several career books for women, and editor of the Anthony and Agatha Award-nominated The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook. For more, please check out

Friday, May 12, 2023

Books: "Feherty" By John Feinstein


Feherty: The Remarkably Funny and Tragic Journey of Golf's David Feherty

By John Feinstein

Hachette Books; hardcover, 272 pages; $30

David Feherty is one of the most compelling figures in the golf world, instantly recognizable from broadcasting tournaments and his talk show, and renowned author John Feinstein has delivered his definitive biography, which will give you a greater appreciation for how he got here.

"Rock Solid" Rizzo Blasts Pair To Push Yankees Past Rays

Anthony Rizzo rounding the bases on his eighth inning home run as the light show begins and Tampa Bay pitcher Jason Adam looks on. Photo by Jason Schott.


It was Anthony Rizzo Mandalorian Bobblehead night at Yankee Stadium on Friday, and the force certainly was with the Yankees first baseman.

St. John's Brings In Ivy League Player of the Year

The signing announced on Twitter @StJohnsBBall. 

On Friday morning, the St. John's  Red Storm announced another major signing, as Head Coach Rick Pitino received another commitment from Jordan Dingle, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year at Penn University.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Yankees "Coming In With An Edge," Led By Bader & Volpe, As They Complete Sweep Of Oakland

Anthony Volpe approaching home plate and his teammates who just scored on his grand slam. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Yankees, powered by home runs from Harrison Bader and DJ LeMahieu, and the first-career grand slam for Anthony Volpe, completed their sweep of the Oakland Athletics with an 11-3 win on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Books: "Coronation Year" By Jennifer Robson


Coronation Year

By Jennifer Robson

William Morrow Paperbacks; paperback, $17.99

Jennifer Robson is the internationally bestselling author of seven historical novels, among them Somewhere in France and The Gown. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony's College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Books: Ernest Hemingway's Classic "Big Two-Hearted River"

Big Two-Hearted River: The Centennial Edition

By Ernest Hemingway

Mariner Classics; hardcover, 112 pages, illustrated; $25.00; available today, Tuesday, May 9th

One of Ernest Hemingway's classic works that was released nearly a century ago, in 1925 as part of the collection In Our Time, was a short story of a veteran's solo fishing trip in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It has been called "the finest story of the outdoors in American literature" by Sports Illustrated.

Books: "The Lost Sons Of Omaha" By Joe Sexton, On An American Tragedy


The Lost Sons Of Omaha: Two Young Men in an American Tragedy

By Joe Sexton

Scribner; hardcover, $30.00; available today, Tuesday, May 9th

Joe Sexton is a former senior editor at ProPublica who spent twenty-five years at the New York Times. As a reporter, he covered sports, politics, crime, and the historic overhaul of the country's welfare legislation. While he served as Metropolitan editor of the Times, his staff won two Pulitzer Prizes, including for breaking news for its coverage of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's downfall in 2008.

New Cookbooks As We Enter Spring & Summer Cookouts

This is a good time to look at some new cookbooks as we enter spring and summer, a season full of cookouts and picnics and a time to focus on wellness, and in this review we will look at: I'll Bring The Cake, by Mandy Merriman; Super Tonics, by Meredith Youngson; Your Super Life, by Kristel de Groot & Michael Kuech; The Dinner Party Project, by Natasha Feldman; and The Old El Paso Cookbook.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Bryant, Rockies Roll Past Mets To Take Series


Kris Bryant connecting on an RBI single in the third inning off Joey Lucchesi. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Colorado Rockies rolled to a 13-6 win over the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field, as they were led by Kris Bryant, who had a home run and three RBI. This gave Colorado, who improved to 14-21, two wins in this three-game weekend series, which dropped the Mets below .500, at 17-18.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Rockies, Led By Gomber & Tovar, Trounce Mets


Austin Gomber pitching to Starling Marte in the fifth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Colorado Rockies got a pair of superb performances from surprise sources, as they rolled to a 5-2 win over the Mets, who fell back to .500, at 17-17.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Mets Shut Out Rockies On Night, Buck Says, They Got “A reminder of what we’re missing”


Kodai Senga pitching to Harold Castro in the second inning on Friday night. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets, led by six strong innings from starting pitcher Kodai Senga, shut out the Colorado Rockies, 1-0, on Friday night at Citi Field to open their three-game weekend series. This broke a three-game losing streak for the Mets as they improved to 17-16, and they are in second place in the National League East.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

St. John's Inks Taylor & Dunlap As Pitino Continues To Build Roster


The signing of Glenn Taylor announced on @StJohnsBBall on Twitter.

The St. John's Red Storm made two big additions on Tuesday, as Head Coach Rick Pitino continues to build the roster ahead of his debut season. Oregon State transfer Glenn Taylor, Jr. officially signed with St. John's, and four-star forward Brady Dunlap signed a National Letter of Intent.

Yankees Walk It Off To Win Series Vs. Cleveland; Tampa On Tap This Weekend

Clarke Schmidt pitching to Cam Gallagher in the fourth inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

The resilient Yankees, who are without sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, plus a whole host of pitchers at the moment, got a walk-off RBI single from Jose Trevino in the 10th inning to take a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Guardians to earn the series victory. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Book Chat: Jack Curry On His New Book, "The 1998 Yankees," The Greatest Ever

The 1998 Yankees: The Inside Story of the Greatest Baseball Team Ever 

By Jack Curry

Twelve; 288 pages; hardcover, $30; eBook, $16.99; available today, Tuesday, May 2nd

Jack Curry is an an analyst on the Yankees' pregame and postgame shows on the YES Network, where he has worked since 2010. He has won five New York Emmy Awards. Prior to that, Curry covered baseball for 20 seasons, first as the Yankees' beat writer and then as a national baseball columnist. He is the co-author of three acclaimed books on the Yankees, Swing and a Hit, with Paul O'Neill, which was released last year (click here for Brooklyn Digest's coverage); Full Count: The Education of a Pitcher, with David Cone, from 2019 (click here for our coverage); and The Life You Imagine, with Derek Jeter, which came out in 2001.

In his new book The 1998 Yankees, Curry examines why this team, that went 125-50 on their way to winning the World Series, should be acknowledged as one of the greatest ever.

Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner said at the time, "Right now, you would have to call them the best team ever."

With the 25th anniversary of that wonderful season upon us, Curry revisits the season to discuss how the team was built and why the Yankees were such a talented, compelling, and successful club. 

The story of the season, which was full of memorable moments, is told through Curry's observations and reporting from that season, as well as interviews with more than 25 players, coaches, and executives, who revealed some behind-the-scenes stories about the journey they took to reach greatness. One of the big moments was David Wells' perfect game, and the story around that remarkable achievement shows what made the team special.

The players that led this team, and other championship seasons before and after 1998, are some of the most recognizable, beloved players in Yankees history, among them Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, David Cone, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, and the uncomparable closer Mariano Rivera.

In addition, the 1998 Yankees had new faces added to what was already an incredible lineup that had won the World Series two years before. Chuck Knoblauch was brought in from Minnesota to be a solid presence leading off, Scott Brosius took over at third base and became the World Series MVP, veteran Chili Davis was a force, and, at the end of the season, phenom Shane Spencer, who did nothing but hit home runs in September. There also was addition of El Duque, Orlando Hernandez, and all the excitement around what he brought to the team, to one of the best rotations in history.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Jack Curry about The 1998 Yankees, and here is that conversation (edited and condensed for clarity:

Jack Curry. Photo credit: E.H. Wallop.

Jason Schott: How did this one differ from the ones you recently wrote with David Cone and Paul O'Neill?

Jack Curry: When you're writing a book with a player, Jason, your mission is to make sure you tell their story, you tell their story accurately, but you also have to get their voice. You want people who are their friends or their family to pick up that book and say to themselves, 'wow, this sounds like Paul wrote it,' 'wow, this sounds like David wrote it,' and that's challenging. I do appreciate that Cone's father and O'Neill's wife both told me that they felt as if they had written the book, so that's a challenge that I didn't have with this book. This is Jack Curry's book; I didn't have to sit in my office at 1 o'clock in the morning some night and, after I wrote a passage, say 'eh, not sure Paul would have said it that way,' or 'I better go back to my notes and try to see how Paul might have phrased that,' and it's obviously, when you're doing a book with an athlete, it's not stenography; I don't want to boil it down to that. It's much more different than that. but it's trying to find the guy's voice, and I have to tell you, Jason, it was liberating to write this book because it's Jack Curry's voice, it's my observations from that season, it's my reporting, it's my interviews, and I did feel a level of freedom in not having to be there to mimic someone's voice.

JS: Were you still the Yankees beat writer for the New York Times that season before you became the national baseball columnist?

JC: It's interesting, I got off the beat in '97; Buster Olney took over, he was the beat writer in '98. I was a national writer in '98, but the Yankees were the biggest national story, so I ended up covering a ton of that team.

JS: So, you were jumping back and forth between the Yankees and the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run chase that summer?

JC: I was in St. Louis when McGwire hit 62, exactly right, and I did not do a ton of McGwire and Sosa in this book, only because I wasn't ignoring them. I mentioned it a few times, but my goal was to tell the story of the Yankees, but if you do go back and you did a daily capturing of that '98 season, those guys were getting a lot more publicity than the Yankees were. The Yankees were just a machine, they kept winning, which was less sexy than two guy who, at the time, were having a very cordial, very friendly chase to the top of the mountaintop, so that got a lot more attention.

JS: You write that the Yankees knew that at the time and took a sense of pride in that, calling themselves "grinders," that while they were hitting home runs, they were grinding out wins every day.

JC: If you look at that lineup - up and down that lineup - I think you could describe all of those guys as grinders. It was Knoblauch's first season, and he brought an energy at the top of the lineup, we know who Jeter is, O'Neill was a grinder, Tino Martinez was a grinder, Brosius was a grinder. People I think often misconstrued who Bernie Williams was, but this was a guy who was going to lay a heavy at-bat on you every time, and one of the things that I'm glad that I did in this book, Jason, was I found (former Red Sox catcher) Jason Varitek at a Yankees-Red Sox game one day. He was a rookie in '98, so I wanted to get someone's perspective who had to sort of battle that lineup, and as we sat in the Yankee Stadium third base dugout, you could see Varitek almost reliving a nightmare, basically saying, 'yeah, we tried to do this to O'Neill, but it didn't work that often,' 'oh, we tried to do this to Bernie, but you couldn't really get him out here,' Tino was this, and he turned to me and said, 'I feel like I'm giving you the same scouting report on every guy, but that's who they were, they were just so difficult to get out, they extended at-bats, etc.'

JS: I think it was necessary context that you begin the book with the loss in 1997 in the American League Division Series in Cleveland when they were defending their World Championship. How important was it to start there?

JC: I thought it was of vital importance because I truly believe, as I wrote, that the march through 1998 started in '97. I think it's 15 guys played for '96, '97, and '98, and I think 23 played for '97 and '98 - obviously we're not just talking 25-man rosters, so you had a lot of overlap. You had a lot of guys who lived that nightmare, and Jason, they felt they were a better team in '97 than they were in '96. I'm not saying they thought it was going to be a cakewalk, but they saw back-to-back championships right before their eyes, and when that ended, I'll still remember that clubhouse and just how morose they felt. Steinbrenner walking around patting guys on the back, saying, 'We'll do it again, we're going to win it next year,' and in the moment, you think, 'okay, George, sure, say whatever an owner is supposed to say.' Well, he was right, and that team was committed to not letting that happen again, so I thought we had to start in '97, I think the chapter was called "Before Glory, Suffering," and I think it was true. '98 doesn't happen in the manner that it did, with that dominance, unless they had some suffering in '97. Not saying they wouldn't have won in '98, but I think from Day 1, after that little hiccup in the first week, that team was on a rampage.

JS: I forgot the adversity they faced in the first month, that they opened in another house of horrors, Seattle, and then after a wild 13-10 Opening Day win at Yankee Stadium over Oakland, a beam at The Stadium came down, forcing them to rearrange a bunch of games.

JC: It was a crazy start to the season. Everyone knows there was a lot of angst spilled about Torre's future. I found out, and I don't think this was heavily reported back then, if much since then, that Cashman felt that his job was also in jeopardy. You mention the other things that were happening, but by the time that beam fell, after that, that team was already starting to go on a roll. I think it said a lot about their resilience that they were bouncing around to different parts of the country, they played a couple games at Shea, they relocated a series, I think, with Detroit - they just kept winning, and so, you started to see who that team was going to become.

JS: On May 19, 1998, the Yankees had a massive brawl with the Baltimore Orioles, which began with Armando Benitez hitting Tino Martinez intentionally in the back with a fastball, which you say really galvanized them. 

JC: I don't think the Yankees needed to be galvanized, but I think the Orioles poked the bear, so to speak. The Orioles/Armando Benitez because it was a one-man show, you saw, and I've watched that YouTube video probably 15 times while writing this book, you just saw the Yankees like a tidal wave after that happened. They were just attacking the Orioles dugout, 25 guys that had their eyes on Benitez, and they were not going to let anybody push them around, and as much as they were respected around the league, and they had players who were gentleman, I do think that that incident sent a message. I do think that incident said, 'whoa, wait a second, you're not doing that after Bernie Williams hits a home run. You're not doing that to Tino Martinez, we are not letting that happen on our turf!'

JS: I watched the clip again myself, it was a 98 miles-per-hour fastball in the numbers.

JC: There was no doubt he was throwing at him, and Benitez has tried to say the pitch got away from him, etc. Everybody on both teams knew that it did not, and Tino and Posada were really good talking about that in the book. I appreciated them going back with me and reviewing what happened in that situation because I think galvanizing is the perfect word. That's what that moment did.

JS: You mention Posada, he really became a regular part of that lineup in 1998, along with other new faces Chuck Knoblauch, Scott Brosius, who was an afterthought when they got him, and Chili Davis. How did that change the dynamic of the lineup?

JC: I talked to a lot of the leftover guys, Jeter, O'Neill, Cone, and they were impressed with how quickly those guys fit in. I even said to Jeter, well, how could the guys like the ones you just mention, really understand what you experienced in '97, he said, 'oh, if you were in our clubhouse, you got it. If you were in our clubhouse, you understood what we felt we left out there' so they were part of that very quickly. I think Knoblauch brought a toughness and a grittiness. At that moment in time, his career is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. I know when you look at what happened in New York, it probably did not turn out totally the way Chuck would have wanted, even though he got three World Series rings, but the Yankees needed a pesky leadoff hitter at the top and a guy who could be tough, and Knoblauch was that guy. Brosius, and Cashman said it best, he just was a gift that fell out of the clouds - or maybe he said that about El Duque, but it actually applies to both of them. I think when you were going to have a great team/extraordinary team, you have to have some players who did things that you didn't expect, and to me the three guys were Brosius, Spencer, and El Duque because, in spring training, if you mentioned those three names, you would have had a Cuban pitcher who they didn't know a ton about who they just signed, a career minor leaguer, and a guy who just hit .200 in Oakland. Instead, they turned out to be three essential pieces of one of the best teams of all time.

JS: What was it like when El Duque arrived because they had to fight to get him in, and the second he showed up, he was incredible.

JC: I loved covering El Duque, I loved covering his games, I loved his antics in the clubhouse, and in the beginning, he was so fresh-faced and so excited and so new, he talked right up to the moments he was starting, which was unbelievable because, as you know, starting pitchers rarely talk, and he was so animated, (first base coach) Jose Cardenal would translate for him, so you did feel as if you were covering a showman on and off the mound, and just the way he pitched. John Flaherty (Jack's YES colleague who was on the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998) had a good anecdote in the book where El Duque pitched against Tampa Bay (in his first start on June 3, 1998), and Flaherty said that their scouting report said basically 'mediocre fastball, throw a couple of breaking pitches.' He said that the scouting report gave you no glimpse into who El Duque really was, with the different arm angles, pitching to the corners, the way he would compete, so he really was a delight to cover...(Flaherty) wasn't in the lineup, but he remembered the scouting report.

JS: One of the fascinating things in the book was David Cone was the leader of the pitching staff, how he had a great relationship with David Wells that you highlight, and took El Duque under his wing through the season.

JC: Cone was the guy who took pressure off people in the clubhouse because he enjoyed the interaction with the media, he didn't mind talking every day, and some position players didn't want to do that. O'Neill, who I had a good relationship with, he really didn't want to answer baseball questions every day. Cone loved it, Cone reveled in doing that. It took the pressure off guys who just wanted to maybe go get their work done.

JS: That's pretty instructive that, as a starting pitcher he would do that.

JC: Cone was very big on being a teammate in the four days where he wasn't pitching, and he said not every starting pitcher is like that, but he felt that if he could help a teammate on a day he wasn't pitching, well, why wouldn't he do that? If he knew there was something that a right-hander was trying to do to Chuck Knoblauch, he would let him know, and a lefty was doing this to Paul O'Neill, he would let him know. Some guys were receptive, some guys weren't, but yeah, they didn't have a captain back then, but put it this way, I'll take captain out of the equation, if you took a poll in 1998 and asked those Yankees players who was their favorite guy on the team, who was the most popular guy, it would be David Cone, without a doubt Cone would win that.

JS: Cone and Wells kind of epitomized the mix of players the Yankees had on this team, in that Cone was very thoughtful of a player, while Wells was fiery, and it seemed that split evenly throughout the team. How did Joe Torre manage those personalities, and how had he evolved in his third year at the helm?

JC: I thought Torre, when he came in, I'm going to go back a little bit to '96, I thought he was the perfect manager for that '96 team because there were some struggles. Joe had a soothing way about him that I think, in the course of a long baseball season, you need. This isn't football; you don't play just once a week and you can't be screaming at guys, so when Joe did scream or did yell at a guy, it resonated because he did it so rarely. I think in '98, and I interviewed Torre for this book, Torre takes less credit. He said he noticed in spring training, and then of course they had that hiccup at the beginning of the season, but he noticed in spring training how driven this team was, and he said he could sense it from an early part of the spring and he kind of just jumped on their backs. Now, there's more to it than that, obviously a manager makes who knows how many decisions every day, but Torre gave the team a lot of credit for being the ones that drove the bus in '98...I always called Joe soothing - soothing and stoic, I thought those were the traits he exhibited as a manager.

JS: How important was it to have a postscript at the end of the book updating where every player is at present, good or bad, with some that are quite surprising.

JC: Very important, Jason. I'm a journalist and I was covering the 1998 season, and I was telling people about that, but I felt that we would have been remiss if we didn't at least give people a thumbnail sketch of what has happened in the last 25 years. There are some people whose lives probably didn't twist and turn in the way that they had hoped they would, so I did want to make sure that we mention that. It's a book about the 1998 Yankees, I wasn't going to do a whole chapter on player X who has had a lot of difficulty, but I did want to let the readers know what has happened across the last 25 years.

JS: Would you say this is the best team ever because, in the past 25 years, no team has come close to what they achieved, like some teams have won around 110 games, but fizzled out of the playoffs since then. This team did everything you possibly could.

JC: I do think it's the best team ever. I should preface that by saying it's probably impossible to pick a 'best team ever,' but we debate everything, we argue about everything, we discuss everything, so when it came time for me to write a book because I do believe this was the best team ever, and you're right, no one has come close to 125 wins. I have a ton of other stats in this book that express why I thought they were the best team ever, and I thought Cone put it very nicely in terms of roster construction, as well, just how every guy knew his role, and that's what made them so great because Homer Bush knew his role, Andy Pettitte knew his role, Mike Stanton knew his role, up and down that roster they were just loaded with talented players whose desire was to win.

Books: "Paper Names" By NYC Writer Susie Luo


Paper Names

By Susie Luo

Hanover Square Press; hardcover, 288 pages; $30.00; available today, Tuesday, May 2nd

Susie Luo is a writer based in New York. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell Law School, and was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs when she began writing her novel from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. after work in eight months during the pandemic. She cold-pitched it to Gillian Flynn's agent, and it was won in a major pre-empt. Now, Luo writes full time and teaches writing in New York City.

Monday, May 1, 2023

Mets Split Doubleheader With Braves, As Comeback Falls Short In First Game, & Snag Second


Jeff McNeil hitting a single in the second inning of Game 2 before he would score later in the frame. Photo by Jason Schott.

The Mets split a doubleheader with the Atlanta Braves on Monday afternoon at Citi Field, as their comeback attempt in the first game fell short in a 9-8 loss, but they completed their comeback in the nightcap to win, 5-3.

Books: "Where Waters Meet" By Zhang Ling


Where Waters Meet 

By Zhang Ling

Amazon Crossing; hardcover, 284 pages; $28.99; paperback, 368 pages, $16.00; Kindle eBook, $4.99; Brilliance Audiobook, $38.99; available today, Monday, May 1

Zhang Ling is an award-winning author of nine novels and many collections of novellas and short stories, including A Single Swallow, translated by Shelly Bryant; Gold Mountain Blues; and Aftershock, which was adapted into China's first IMAX movie with unprecedented box-office success. She was born in China and moved to Canada in 1986, and in the mid-1990s, while working as a clinical audiologist, she began to write and publish fiction in Chinese. She has won the Chinese Media Literature Award for Author of the Year, the Grand Prize of Overseas Chinese Literary Award, and China Times's Open Book Award.