Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ed's Sports Corner for July

I always enjoy hearing great success stories about local people who’ve made it. Jesse Ortiz is a good example—a Galileo High School and University of San Francisco graduate who’s made it big in the sport of golf as one of the world’s premier golf club designers in the world. Ortiz began his club designing career as a teenager in 1968 with guidance from his father Lou, founder of Orlimar Golf. Together, Jesse and Lou hand-crafted golf clubs for many of golf’s greatest, from Ken Venturi to Johnnie Miller. The Ortiz’ became personal craftsmen for Northern California’s finest golf professionals. While at Orlimar, he designed and developed many successful products introduced by the company, including the TriMetal™ fairway metal line, widely considered to be among the most lucrative and innovative ever introduced. It was consistently ranked among the top fairway metals by professional PGA Tour and senior PGA Tour players in Darrell Surveys. Before leaving Orlimar, Jesse introduced the critically acclaimed TriMetal™ HipTi Driver, which featured not only the thinnest conforming face in golf, but also the strongest and most rigid. Jesse’s metal wood innovations propelled sales from $1.5 million to $100 million in the late 1990s. Since 1998, over 700 PGA professional players have used Ortiz clubs in tournament play. During this period, Ortiz’s name has become synonymous with high-quality woods and fairway metals design. In 2004, the Jesse Ortiz Design Studio partnered with the upstart Bobby Jones Golf Company, and resounding success has followed. Driven by the commercial and critical triumph of the Bobby Jones Hybrid by Jesse Ortiz, the Bobby Jones Players Series by Jesse Ortiz continues to benefit from heavy media acclaim and increasing sales. In 2008 after nearly four years in the workshop, Jesse launched a revolutionary new 460cc driver and a collection of technology-shaping wedges for Bobby Jones Golf. In 1999, Jesse received the International Network of Golf Business Achievement Award and was recognized as the Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California by Ernst & Young.

Gus Triandos was around a lot of baseball history...

Gus Triandos was a very decent catcher during the 50’s and 60’s. He hit 167 career homers, and although he was not fleet of foot (he stole one base and holds the record for most consecutive games played without being thrown out: 1,206), Triandos had a great arm and was known as one of the top-fielding backstops in the league throughout his years with five major league teams. He now lives in San Jose, California and runs a postal company. He was wearing a neck brace the morning I met him, the result of a recent car accident. Gus was a part of a lot of baseball history. A 2-time all-star, he caught Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964, used the big oversized mitt to catch knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm during his no-hitter in 1958 and was the opposing catcher when Ted Williams hit a home run in his final plate appearance in 1960.

The perfect game he caught: “Bunning was on his game that day and everything just fell into place. A perfect game is so rare, because it’s never completely in the pitcher’s hands. An error can mess it up and I’ve seen it happen more than once. In the ninth inning, Jim Bunning called his catcher, Gus Triandos, to the mound. What did they talk about? Triandos stated after the game, "He said I should tell him a joke, just to get a breather. I couldn't think of anything. I just laughed at him."

High school: “My senior year, we had 11 guys sign professional contracts. Mission High was the baseball school, Polytechnic was the football school and Lowell was the basketball school in San Francisco at that time. The only one who really made it for any time in the majors was me.”

The 1957 all-star game: “That *$#@ Stengel didn’t even put me in that game. That Stengel really hated my guts. And then the next year it was in Baltimore. That’s when they let the players pick the all-stars for the first time. And I got in because I was elected by the players. And Casey still didn’t want to play me, but he had no choice.”

Players he liked/disliked: “I never got to where I disliked a guy. There were a couple I ended up disliking, but shit, life’s too short. I stayed away from them. You see them now, and you never get a chance to talk. Maybe for a minute at some dinner or event or something. But, there were very few people -- players and managers -- that after it was all over, I disliked…Stengel was one of them. I wasn’t his type of ball player. You know, I couldn’t run. I couldn’t hit to the opposite field. And for some reason he just didn’t like me and it was patently obvious. The greatest thing that ever happened to me was him disliking me. He also made the right pick. He decided that he liked Elston Howard better than me. And that was a helluva pick.”

Umpires: “You almost have to be an ass---- to be an umpire. You have to take so much shit. You start the season out real good friends with them by the end of the season guys were salivating, hell, saying they hated each other’s guts. The only reason the umps liked me is I didn’t show ‘em up, and I never argued with them. Stayed off them so that the fans wouldn’t get on them.”

Players today: “The way things are now, the kind of money these guys are making, it’s messed everything up. In our era, there was more integrity and more love for the game. Look at these fucking guys, they buy 2-3 million dollar homes; some of them have six or seven kids with five different women? It’s crazy.”

HOFer’s: “Any Hall of Famer who thinks he’s so wonderful because he did all these great things in baseball is full of crap. He was able to do it because he was blessed by God with natural ability. He didn’t necessarily have to work that hard to be a star. I’ve seen .220 hitters work a lot harder than a lot of Hall of Famers. There were some good ones, but there are also a lot of bad guys who are Hall of Famers. That’s why I never really idolized Hall of Famers, because I thought they were blessed.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Yo, Meathead!

Can anybody explain the Mets’ home vs. away record this year?

Last year was the Mets’ first year in cavernous Citi Field, and there were adjustments to be made, no doubt. By the end of their injury-plagued 2009, they had gone 41–40 at home, and the ballpark’s dimensions were accused of robbing certain Mets, i.e., David Wright, of their power. Wright only hit 10 home runs last year. Mets fans were afraid that Citi Field was too much of a pitcher’s park, and that homers would be a rarity at home.

Now look at this year! The Mets, as of this writing, are 22–9 at home. That includes a current eight in a row, 18 of 22, and an earlier 10-game homestand in which the Amazin’s won all but one. As a side note, Wright already has 10 total home runs.

The home numbers become more glaring when you see that the Mets are 8–18 away. So not only are they playing great ball at home, they’re so much more comfortable at Citi Field now that they have trouble winning anywhere else!

Consider: On April 30, the Mets convincingly won the first game of three in Philadelphia, 9–1, in a series they were using as a measuring stick for their progress. Who better to measure themselves against than their division rivals, who also happen to be the reigning NL champs? But the Mets went on to lose the next two in embarrassing fashion, 10–0 and 11–5, and the fans thought the Mets were showing no improvement whatsoever from last year’s joke of a campaign. Fast-forward to May 25–27. In a three-game series, now at Citi Field, not only did the Mets sweep three from the Phils, but Philadelphia did not score a single run in the series. That’s right, the NL champs were shut out for three straight by the same team.

In another example of ineptitude, starting May 13, the Mets were swept in four at Florida, a team notorious for sticking it to the Mets whenever they’ve had the chance over the last few years. But this past weekend, New York hosted the Marlins at Citi Field, and can you guess what happened? Correct! The Mets swept the three games, and while they weren’t able to do anything as dramatic as shutting the Fish out for the series, they did come back from a 5–0 deficit in the sixth inning to take the final game 7–6.

Oh, and by the way, did I mention that they have an eight-game home winning streak going? (I know I did.) To go along with a nine-game home winning streak earlier this year?

I’ve heard of home-field advantage, but this is getting ridiculous, especially since it seemed as if the Mets were destined to feel forever lukewarm, at best, about their new digs. And let’s not kid ourselves—any team that has postseason aspirations, and especially championship aspirations, has to be able to win on the road, as well as at home. So what are the Mets to do about playing away for the rest of the season? And are there any theories as to why the Amazin’s seem to be just SO much better at home in 2010? Who’s got something to say about this?