Now that I’m commissioner …

I know, there’s a lot of things that need fixing. Ebola. ISIS. Global warming. Racism. Sexism. Rush Limbaugh. But saving the world can come later. First we have to fix baseball. Because priorities.

We’re coming off a good World Series, and a great Game Seven. The baseball season ended with the tying run on third and a kid named Madison Bumgarner standing on the mound, proving that you don’t have to have a great baseball name to be a great baseball player.

So let’s hear it for the World Champion Giants, the last team standing. They deserve to wear the crown. And hooray for the Royals, too. The Little Engine That Could came oh-so-close. Continue reading

Game Seven, and nobody’s watching

Baseball is the greatest game on earth. It isn’t perfect – it would be if you didn’t have to refinance your home to take the wife and kids to the ballpark, and if they had a better selection of beer, and if they played the blues between innings instead of those hideous pop tunes – but, hey, it’s awfully damn close.

And tonight the greatest game on earth gets its signature moment, its pinnacle, it’s Ray Charles singing Georgia on My Mind:

Game Seven of the World Series.

A season that began on the first day of April will end tonight, seven months and some 175 games later. One game, winner take all. One guy gets to sip champagne. The other guy goes home and cries in his Bud. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Too bad nobody will be watching. Continue reading

Nothing wrong with No. 2


I hated Derek Jeter. Hated him.

Not all the time, of course. How could anyone hate Derek Jeter all the time?

But you gotta understand … I’m a Mets fan, which meant that for six games a year (except for last year and this year, when it was four games, and 2000, when it was 11), I hated him. Continue reading

Gone bluefishin’


Pete Rose, baseball’s immortal Charlie Hustle, played manager-for-a-day in Bridgeport, Conn., Monday night, calling the shots for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League.

It’s a far cry from the Big Red Machine. And it’s as close as Pete should ever get to returning to baseball.

The “independent” in “independent Atlantic League” is important, because Petey has been banned for 25 years from all of Major League Baseball and all of its affiliate minor league teams. Among other things, this means that the man who had more base hits than any other player in the history of the game – the man who beat Ty Cobb’s unbeatable record of 4,191 and didn’t stop until he’d recorded 4,256, the man who was a thorn in every pitcher’s side and was the face of Cincinnati in the ’70s – is ineligible to to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Good. That’s how it should be. Rose, one of the greatest ever to lace up a pair of cleats, should never be allowed back in the game.

Rose is 73 now, and he’s always had a groundswell of support from fans who say the hit king belongs in the Hall.

On a side note, I’d be willing to bet that a majority of those same fans have no problem with excluding the home run king, Barry Bonds. Let’s just say the reasons are as clear as black and white.

But this isn’t about Barry, who also doesn’t belong. This is about Pete. And the reason Petey isn’t in the Hall is that he took himself out of it.

In 1989, after denying for months that he had never, ever, bet on a baseball game, Rose accepted a lifetime ban from the game — without admitting guilt — for, um . . . betting on baseball.

Now, before the baseball writers can elect or reject him for a plaque in Cooperstown, the commissioner of baseball must lift the ineligibility Pete accepted.

Let’s hope no commissioner is ever so forgiving.

It took years for Rose, in a desperate attempt to get reinstated, to admit that yes, in fact, he did bet on baseball games. What’s more, he admitted, he bet on his Reds … while he was the team’s manager.

Rose and his defenders argue that he never bet against the Reds. He only bet on his team to win. What’s wrong with that?

There’s a lot wrong with that.

Baseball, as we all know, is a marathon, not a sprint. There are 162 games, and even the really good teams lose 62 of them. Sometimes you have to be willing to lose because you have your eyes on the finish line.

Unless, of course, your eyes are clouded by a bet.

Did Petey ever keep a pitcher in the game longer than he should have, risking injury to the player, because he had money on the outcome?

Did he ever put a player who desperately needed a day of rest into the lineup because winning a bet was more important?

Even if the answer is no, he could have. A manager has to have his team – not his bet – foremost in his mind. And the bet opens the question of whether Petey did.

Baseball, the great American pastime, almost died 95 years ago when the Chicago “Black Sox” took money from gamblers and threw the 1919 World Series. It literally took a player of Ruthian stature to bring the game back from that scandal. Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the greatest players ever, was one of eight ballplayers banned for life afterward. You’ll find Shoeless Joe in a wonderful book that was made into a wonderful movie, but you won’t find his plaque in Cooperstown.

Rose deserves nothing better.

Photo ops and autograph sessions are all Charlie Hustle has left now, and that’s the way it should be. According to the Savannah Morning News, “About 50 fans paid $250 each to get into a ‘meet and greet’ with Rose before this game and others paid $150 to have lunch with him. He did sign some free autographs as he took the field.”

Rose told the newspaper he “was trying to show he could be a good ambassador for the game.”

“If I’m ever reinstated,” he said, “I won’t need a third chance. Believe me.”

OK, I believe him. And I also know that he does not deserve a third chance. He shouldn’t even have gotten a second one.

Let everyone who plays this wonderful game know now and forever:

There’s no betting in baseball. Period. Not even if you get 4,256 hits.

– 30 –

Take me out!


My friends, today is a religious holiday. And, as I have for the last 30 years or so, I will be attending a house of worship with my sons, Josh and Ben.

Every year, Linda and I would pull them out of school on this day and we’d all head to the ballpark. Their principal would give them a dollar and ask them to bring him back a bag of peanuts. Never mind that a bag of peanuts cost around six bucks . . . He got it. And we brought him back the peanuts.

I said then — and I say now — that there was nothing they would miss in class that day that would be as important or as meaningful as this family tradition.

Today is Opening Day, and I’m heading to the ballpark. There will be hot dogs. There will be beer. I don’t care if I never get back.

And here’s the best part . . . This year my sons are taking ME!

Great memories last a lifetime. Let’s go Mets!

— 30 —



My kids have grown up. I know this because I’m banging away on a keyboard in Haverstraw, NY, right now, when I should be on the way home from Cooperstown.

Pull up a chair, kids, and I’ll tell you all about a grand tradition that began in October of 1987, when Josh was 8 and Ben was 2 and Josh and I decided to have a baseball weekend, just us guys, no mom, no baby brother.

The plan was simple:

We’d drive to Cooperstown on Friday night, when I got home from work, and check into a motel for a couple of nights. We’d spend all day Saturday at the Hall of Fame, then head to Brooks’ Diner in Oneonta for some chicken and ribs, and then return to our motel room to watch Game Six of the World Series. Just the two of us.

And there would be a brief but essential stop at a convenience store on the way back to motel from Brooks’, so we could pick up some essentials for watching the game. All involving excessive amounts of sugar and salt.

There was one ground rule: Anything goes. You want it, we’ll buy it. Chips, candy, soda, Twinkies, whatever. We’re guys. We snack till we’re sick.

The next morning, we’d have breakfast somewhere, then doughnuts at Snyder’s Bakery, and then we’d head back home, stopping en route to pick up a Halloween pumpkin or two.

Perfect. Continue reading

From Bunning to Santana, 50 years of hard luck


Pull up a chair, kids, and I’ll tell you about Father’s Day in 1964, and my 40th college reunion 48 years later, and how you have to be in the right place at the right time, and how the planets have to align just right, if you want to witness a no-hitter.

We start on Father’s Day, 1964, a miserably hot day in early June, and way back before the average joe was enjoying the luxury of central air conditioning. We lived in a small attached home — kitchen, dining room and living room downstairs; three small bedrooms upstairs – in Brooklyn.

My room was on the top floor, facing west. Let the sun shine in.

And it did. It shone unbearably hot, and the window fan was very effective at drawing in the furnace-level heat from outside.

But there was an air conditioner in the house – down the hall in my parents’ room – and it was calling to me. Come boy, come sit in this room. It’s cool in here.

I had a black-and-white TV in my room, and I had the Phillies-Mets game on. And Jim Bunning — great pitcher, lousy senator — was throwing bullets. And he mowed down the first nine Mets he faced. He was going to throw a perfect game, for sure. And I would be watching, if I could survive the heat.

But that AC down the hall kept calling. Come, boy. Come sit in this room. Why roast in a 100-plus-degree room when it’s cool over here on the other side of the hallway?

I was sweating more in my bedroom than Bunning was on the mound.

And I succumbed to the voice.

I walked into my parents’ room, where my dad, my mom and my 10-year-old sister were watching some godawful, sickly sweet, child-appropriate movie on TV, probably an old Shirley Temple film.

“DAD!!!” I announced, interrupting a snoring event from his side of the bed. “Jim Bunning’s pitching a perfect game!!!!” (I may have forgotten to mention that the game was only three innings old.)

I don’t remember if my dad opened his eyes, but my mom and my sister shot me a look that told me in an instant that there would be no changing the channel on THAT television. You have your own TV in your own bedroom, Stephen. We have permitted you to have one in your room so that you can watch your stupid baseball games there while we watch our child-appropriate fluff in here.

You want to watch the ballgame? Go to your room.

This was a true dilemma: I could suffer heat stroke in my room watching what inevitably would turn out to be just another Mets loss to a fine pitcher . . . or I could sit in a delightfully cool room bored out of my mind as my sister enjoyed some horrible child-friendly movie.

I chose poorly. I sat down and stewed in a cool room, and it wasn’t until a few hours later that I learned that Bunning had, in fact, pitched a perfect game.

Yeah, I missed it. And in so doing, because that’s how the baseball juju works, I also set a precedent. Little did I know at the time that Bunning’s perfect game was just batting practice for my lifetime of either missing no-hitters or watching intently until the last moment, when some nobody would break one up. Either way, I would never get to see one.

I was hosting a July 4 backyard barbecue in 1983 when the Yankees’ Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox. Missed it.

I wasn’t watching 10 years later when the Yanks’ Jim Abbott no-hit the Indians, an unbelievable feat considering that he had only one hand.

I wasn’t watching when David Wells, battling a hangover, threw a perfect game against the Twins in 1998.

I do remember that I was at work one year later when David Cone was perfect against the Expos, and I had to quickly re-design the front page of the Journal News. So, yeah, I missed that one, too.

I ignored a screaming bladder in 1969 for about five innings so as not to disturb the juju when Tom Seaver took a perfect game into the ninth inning against the Cubs, only to see my chances go down in flames when somebody named Jimmy Qualls — the immortal Jimmy Qualls — dunked a ball into the outfield to break it up.

Seaver finally pitched one for Cincinnati, but, of course, you couldn’t see it in New York.

Nolan Ryan threw seven no-nos. But he threw them all after he left the Mets, and I saw none of them.

Sandy Koufax had four, but he threw them all for the LA Dodgers, not the Brooklyn Dodgers, and I saw none of them.

I set my VCR to record every game Dwight Gooden pitched for a couple of years because Doc, in 1985, was the best pitcher I ever saw, and surely he would throw a no-hitter or three while I wasn’t watching.

But it wasn’t to be. Not with the Mets.


I suffered 50 years waiting for somebody on the Mets, to throw a no-hitter. And when they got Johan Santana, I figured it just might happen. So, of course, when it finally did, I couldn’t watch. It came on June 1, 2012, and I was in Geneva, N.Y., at my 40th college reunion, hoisting a beer with old friends at an official reception when I got a text message from my son, Ben, informing me that Santana had a no-hitter going after eight innings.

There was not a TV to be found. I waited 50 years to “watch” the last three outs on my iPhone, pitch-by-pitch. It’s an interesting way to watch a game, but it’s just not the same.

And that’s the way it has gone. If you want to throw a no-hitter, make sure Bromberg isn’t watching.

With one exception. Stay tuned.

Here comes Ugly Cap Day!!!

Per Major League Baseball . . .

I wish they’d just announce that a couple of bucks from each July 4 ticket will go to the vets, and spare us from having to look at these butt-ugly things. My god those caps are hideous.

Memo to MLB:

This is a cap:


So is this:


And it pains me to say it, but so is this:


But these are not caps:


These are a sacrilege.


Been there, but not THERE

Welcome, baseball fan. Go directly to jail. (Washington Post)

This poor guy from out of town had tickets to a game that got rained out. He couldn’t go to the scheduled replacement game, so he tried to sell the tickets — at face value or less — outside the ballpark.

For his efforts, he was given a free ride to the pokey. OK . . . it wasn’t free; it wound up costing him $50.

I understand laws against scalping, but . . .

Several years ago, I found myself about to head into Shea Stadium with an extra ticket. I don’t remember who punked out on the game, but I had pretty good seats and I figured someone would just as soon buy the ticket from me than get one at the ticket window. I would have loved to get the price I paid.

Then a cop came up behind me and told me I had to move something like 150 yards away from the stadium. Pretty much had to go to the other side of the Willets Points subway station, which I was not about to do. Ridiculous.

I guess I should be glad I didn’t get hauled off to jail.