The New Minutemen: Mets Bench Coming Through
During the brief heyday of the New York Knicks their bench was dubbed, “The Minutemen,” by the starters. When Dave Stallworth, Nate Bowman, and Cazzie Russell were substituted into the game the team hardly skipped a beat.
The future Hall of Fame guard Walt “Cylde” Frazier could rest easy because when field general Mike Riordan was inserted by Red Holtzman, he would execute the offense flawlessly. Stallworth came in and crashed the offensive boards routinely.
Russell relieved Bill Bradley to provide instant offense and Willis Reed, also headed for immortality in Springfield, was given a blow by Bowman (see Game 5 of 1970 finals, when Reed went down in a heap and badly injured his hip. Bowman and Stallworth stepped in and won the pivotal tilt. The Lakers would win Game 6, setting up the dramatic game 7 Reed court entrance. But Clyde carried the team on his back with 39 points and 19 assists.)
Now, what is a basketball reference doing in a baseball space? Well, to make a loose comparison, is the 2012 Mets bench the new “Minutemen.” Those Revolutionary war heroes who buoyed the embattled troops?
Is Mike Baxter the 21st century version of Danny Heep. Heep always seemed to come up with a big hit off the bench for the 1986 Mets. Justin Turner should’ve been the hero yesterday, with a two-run pinch double that propelled the Mets ahead of the Marlins in the 9th inning.
Too bad the bullpen imploded (more on that later). Even Mike Nickeas has delivered a few key pinch hits. The Mets are seemingly getting contributions from 28 guys. Or, everyone not named Jason Bay.
It’s like they have a hero-du-jour every game. It’s a crying shame that the bullpen blows two (but that has been happening to bullpens that don’t feature Mariano Rivera forever) in Florida this weekend.
Frank Francisco reminded me a bit of Joaquin Andujar yesterday. Andujar was ejected in Game 7 of the 1985 World Series arguing balls and strikes by Don Denkinger. After he issued a hit and a walk, and ball one, Andujar had to be restrained by three Cardinal teammates from attacking Denkinger.
FF was definitely squeezed by the home plate judge, and at least he held his tongue until Terry Collins lifted him. Hey, at least he didn’t throw any chairs (or take a bat to a toilet like Joaquin did) on the field, just a mini-fit.
Bullpens are going to be fickle, it hurts-but get over it. That’s the beauty of the game. A new beginning beckons today.
The positive news is the Mets are competing with their NL East brethren, and although a .500 record looms over the long haul, anytime you sweep the Phillies and annoy the Fish, it’s been a very successful season so far regardless of what the prognosticators warned.
Finally, if David Wright isn’t playing himself into a long-term deal with the Mets, then management doesn’t have a clue about his worth, or give a damn about the fan base.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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