Craig Calcaterra

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE LEGACY AGENCY - Former MLB pitcher and 1986 World Series Champion pitcher Ron Darling participates in a discussion panel at the the "Breakfast of Champions" at the Gramercy Park Hotel on Monday, July 15, 2013, in New York City. (Brian Ach/AP Images for The Legacy Agency)
Associated Press

Ron Darling: the 1980s Mets were fueled on alcohol and amphetamines


Former Mets pitcher and current announcer Ron Darling has written a book about his experience with the Mets. It’s is second book, actually, and it’s called “Game 7, 1986: Failure and Triumph in the Biggest Game of My Life.” Today the Wall Street Journal has an excerpt of it.

You’ll be shocked to learn that the 1986 Mets — the team of Doc Gooden and Darryl Strawberry — were not boy scouts. Some of them, Darling tells us, were using . . . chemical substances. But not just the Colombian marching powder for which some of those Mets became infamous.

Players would refer to being “in the jar” if they were taking any number of pills available in the team clubhouse, primarily amphetamines. By 1986 the openness of the pill use was reduced and it went underground, Darling said, but the use was still quite prevalent. There would also be amphetamine-beer cocktails, complete with shotgunning of beers through holes in the cans DURING GAMES. Which Darling describes as a perverse sort of performance-enhancement, at least if it was timed just right:

The talk went underground, but even there you’d continue to hear comments like, “Hey, I did a couple of white crosses but that didn’t do it so I threw a black beauty on top and it was perfect.” You’d see guys toward the end of a game, maybe getting ready for their final at bat, double-back into the locker room to chug a beer to “re-kick the bean” so they could step to the plate completely wired and focused and dialed in. They had it down to a science, with precision timing. They’d do that thing where you poke a hole in the can so the beer would flow shotgun-style. They’d time it so that they were due to hit third or fourth that inning, and in their minds that rush of beer would kind of jump-start the amphetamines and get back to how they were feeling early on in the game—pumped, jacked, good to go. How they came up with this recipe, this ritual, I’ll never know, but it seemed to do the trick; they’d get this rush of confidence that was through the roof and step to the plate like the world-beaters they were born to be.

It’s almost comical if you forget just how destructive drug and alcohol abuse can be to anyone, particularly professional athletes. And if you realize how many members of those mid-80s Mets teams battled drugs and the bottle.

It also, of course, puts lie to the notion that the guys who came along later doing steroids were in any way different in kind, even if they were different in their drug of choice. They were all trying to get an edge, one way or another, and took whatever they could to do it. As athletes, on some level, always have.

Opening Day Rosters have 238 players born outside of the United States

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Some fun facts from Major League Baseball just came across the wire. There are 238 players on 2016 Opening Day 25-man rosters and inactive lists who were born outside United States. That’s 238 out of 864, or 27.5%.

The players represent 18 countries and territories outside the U.S.  This ties the record from 1998, when there were also 18 countries and territories represented.  The 238 foreign-born players and the percentage of 27.5 are not a record, but they are the highest in four seasons. In 2013 there were 241 players which accounted for 28.2 percent of rostered players.

The breakdown is lead, as it always is, by the Dominican Republic, which has 82 players on big league rosters.  Venezuela ranks second with 63 players, and Cuba places third with 23 players. Then comes Puerto Rico (17); Mexico (12); Japan (8); South Korea (8); Canada (6); Panama (4); Colombia and Curaçao (3 each); Brazil and Taiwan (2 each); Aruba, Australia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1 each).

Jabari Blash is the first player from the U.S. Virgin Islands to appear on an Opening Day roster since the Padres had Callix Crabbe in 2008.  New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius is the first player from the Netherlands to appear on consecutive Opening Day rosters since Florida’s Rick Vandenhurk in 2008-09.

Let’s enjoy another season of the (inter)natonal pastime.



Another postponement: Red Sox and Indians bumped until tomorrow

Members of the Boston Red Sox stretch before a baseball game between the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Associated Press

Mother Nature simply isn’t cooperating with baseball today. A second game — the Red Sox vs. the Indians in Cleveland — was just postponed until tomorrow due to the cold and the wet.

I know a lot of people ask why they bother scheduling games in places like Cleveland and New York for Opening Day, but it’s not as simple as merely putting all of the games from the first week or two in domes or down south or out west. Opening Day is usually a guaranteed sellout, so the teams in the north and east want their crack at that too. It’s also the case that teams in better weather cities don’t want to host an inordinate number of games in April, as — Opening Day aside — you can usually count on better crowds in the summer months, and they’d be deprived of that if they got all the April games.

On balance, you get more good days than bad in places like Cleveland and the northeast during this week. It just so happens that this is a bad week. It happens.