Mets Merized Online » 1986 Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 06 Dec 2016 21:11:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.16 Time For the Six-Man Rotation http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/time-for-the-six-man-rotation-3.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/10/time-for-the-six-man-rotation-3.html/#comments Sat, 15 Oct 2016 13:14:03 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=224851 noah-syndergaard

One of the most famous lines in baseball history was Spahn and Sain and pray for rain, a reference to the superiority of the top two pitchers in the four-man rotation of the 1948 Boston Braves. Many young fans are unaware that until the late 1960s and early 1970s most teams went with a four man rotation. Amazing, when you consider how the press and management of a team will today make such a deal out of a pitcher throwing “on three day’s rest”.

For decades that was the standard in baseball. Baseball has drastically changed in how its starting pitchers are handled. Compare the 1986 Mets where Dwight Gooden threw 250 innings and 12 complete games with the 2016 Mets, where Bartolo Colon led the team with 192 innings and the entire staff threw one complete game.

Baseball has changed and the reason is simple: the financial investment teams put into the development of pitchers has every team scrambling to figure out how to keep those pitchers on the field. There would never be a Mark Fidrych today. Who is Mark Fidrych? The biggest star in baseball in 1976, he came up as a 21-year old rookie with the Tigers and went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA…and he threw 250 innings. He threw 160 innings for the rest of his career and was out of baseball at the age of 25.

But no matter how much we have babied our pitchers—the five man rotation, the innings courts, the pitch counts, the Mets have failed miserably to keep their pitchers on the field. This year was an exercise in frustration as we watched Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz all lose a great deal of their season (or in Wheeler’s case, the full season for the second year in a row) to injuries.

Why? The theories are out there—the hard slider Warthen teaches them. The fact that each pitcher throws it upper 90s and the human body just can’t sustain that 200 innings a year. The years of competitive ball they played prior to becoming major leaguers when high school/college/travel coaches disregarded their health and pummeled their young arms into early submission.

I propose it is time we try a new approach. Clearly what we have tried has not worked. The Mets should implement a six-man rotation to their major league team next year. Not for a brief period; not for an experiment. They should implement it and leave it in place, and watch as the rest of baseball joins them.

It is not unheard of for teams to go with a six-man rotation. During the 2016 season the Blue Jays, Cubs, Padres and Rays all flirted with the six-man rotation at different times during the year. What is the advantage? The obvious one: you give your arms more rest, you limit their pitch count and inning count over the course of the season, and you count on this to translate to healthier pitchers.

What are the drawbacks? There are two obvious ones, and I do not believe either apply to the Mets. First, most teams simply don’t have six competent starters to send to the mound. Many don’t have five. By stretching a rotation to a sixth man you give your opponent a shot against an inferior pitcher more than once a week.

Second, it limits the appearances of your top pitchers. The Dodgers would not want Clayton Kershaw getting six less starts a year. They’re paying him $32 million this year to pitch as often as possible.

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While both arguments have validity, I don’t think either apply to the Mets. First, assuming we bring back Bartolo Colon (which I think we all expect) we hope to go into spring training with Harvey, Wheeler, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, Colon, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo. That’s eight starters competing for six starts. I believe it is with the utmost importance that Alderson brings in some other competent veteran to compete as well, perhaps a Jered Weaver or Colby Lewis. Bringing together nine pitchers like this we should be able to find six not only competent pitchers but strong pitchers.

The second reason certainly doesn’t apply to the Mets due to their depth within the rotation. Unlike the Dodgers, the Mets can put a top of the line starter out there every night. Even Gsellman and Lugo pitched to a sub 3.00 ERA and it’s a lot easier to swallow taking a start away from a Syndergaard or a deGrom knowing a highly competitive pitcher will take the mound.

Why is it important for the Mets to go to a six-man rotation? With so many pitchers coming back from surgeries there is little doubt pitch and inning counts will be enforced. Hopefully this will assuage concerns of overuse while at the same time minimizing the risks for injuries. The six-man rotation could be a step toward seeing our pitchers on the mound in September, instead of on the disabled list.

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1986 Mets vs 2016 Mets: Was Strawberry Right? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/1986-mets-vs-2016-mets-was-strawberry-right.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/06/1986-mets-vs-2016-mets-was-strawberry-right.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 15:55:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=215245 darryl strawberry

An MMO Fan Shot by Carl Aridas

In a recent interview, featured here on Metsmerized Online, Mets’ great Darryl Strawberry stated that the 2016 NY Mets couldn’t compare to the 1986 Mets team that won the World Series.  Given that the 1986 anniversary celebration just passed at Shea, errr Citi Field, I wondered whether Darryl was correct in his assertion that the current team “is not even close to what we [1986 Mets] were”.  This statistically-based analysis attempts to answer that question on a position by position basis.

Catcher:

In 1986, Gary “the Kid” Carter had a triple slash of .255/.337/.439 good for an OPS+ of 115 to go with 24 homers and 105 RBIs which was good for third in the 1986 NL MVP voting.  His total bWAR of 3.5 is certainly greater than anything d’Arnaud or Plawecki will be mustering this season.

Advantage – 1986

First Base:

1986 Gold glove award winner Keith Hernandez batted .310/.413/.446 for an OPS+ of 140.  His 13 HRs and 83 RBIs helped that team as did his 5.5 WAR.  The 2016 team, even with a healthy Lucas Duda could not match that total as Duda’s career high in WAR is 3.6 back in 2014.

Advantage – 1986

Second Base:

Surely the 1986 Mets, with Wally Backman, the greatest minor league manager in the history of Las Vegas will win this position battle against their 2016 counterparts?  In 1986 Wally Backman batted .320/.376/.385 for an OPS+ of 113 (13% better than league average) and a total WAR of 3.1. He had 1 homer and 27 RBIs in all of 1986.  However, this year’s team has Neil Walker who through June 17 had a .274/.345/.493 which is good for an OPS+ of 126.  He already has 14 homers and 28 RBIs, but his superior bat is offset by a glove already worth -.2 WAR.  Based on current statistics, Walker projects to provide a WAR of 3.1 in 2016.

Advantage – Even

Shortstop:

Asdrubal Cabrera, through June 17, has hit to the tune of 264/326/397 and an OPS+ of 97 (3% below league average).  He has a total WAR of .6 already on the season.  The 1986 team had Rafael Santana who “hit” .218/.285/.254 good for an OPS+ of 52.  He had .6 WAR the entire season of 1986.

Advantage – 2016

Third Base: 

Ray Knight manned the hot corner in 1986 and compiled a .298/.351/.424 during the season with 11 home runs and 76 RBI.  His OPS+ was 115 and he compiled a total of 2.3 WAR on the season.  Before his season-ending surgery, David Wright has an OPS of .788 good for an OPS of 114.  While David Wright’s formerly gold glove defense has deteriorated, his 953 fielding percentage is still basically the same as Knight’s 1986 fielding percentage of .948 as Knight had 16 errors that season.  Without the surgery, David Wright would have been the equal of Ray Knight.  However, the current Mets backups are not.

Advantage – 1986

Left Field:

The 1986 actually had two semi-regular left fielders as George Foster hit .227/.289/.429 through 72 games before being released by the team in August.  He was replaced by Kevin Mitchell who had 12 home runs and 43 RBIs to go with his batting line of .277/.344/.466. Through June 17, Michael Conforto had a .233/.301/.455 triple slash line good for an OPS+ of 103 and his .5 WAR to date already exceeds Foster’s 1986 total and by the end of the season should exceed the combined 1986 WAR total of Mitchell and Foster.

Advantage – 2016

Center Field:

Lenny Dykstra was the spark plug of the 1986 team and his .295/.377/.445 for an OPS+ of 129 certainly justifies that moniker.  His 31 steals led the team and his 76 runs scored were second on the team and he had 4.7 WAR.  Yoenis Cespedes is certainly a different kind of player than Lenny Dykstra, and the slugger leads the team with 16 homers and his .562 slugging percentage is among league leader.  His OPS+ so far this season is 145, and his combined OPS last season was 136.  Sorry Dykstra fans, the advantage goes to:

Advantage – 2016

Right Field:

In 1986 Darryl Strawberry led the team with 27 home runs, his 93 RBIs were second behind Gary Carter’s 105, and his batting line of 259/358/507 good for an OPS of 865 which led the team.  He also added 28 stolen bases.  With all due respect to the Mets current leadoff hitter, Curtis Granderson will likely be bested by Darryl Strawberry in batting average, on base percentage and slugging and Strawberry’s 28 steals in 1986 are more stolen bases than Granderson has ever had in a season in his career.

Advantage – 1986

The current Mets were hard pressed to match their 1986 counterparts, as the 1986 team led the National League in batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, RBIs and runs scored.  The team’s OPS+ was 106, the only National League team to be above average in that statistic in 1986.

Bench:

Does the current projected production of the Mets bench of Lagares, Flores, Campbell, and De Aza match the actual output in 1986 of Mookie Wilson, Danny Heep, Howard Johnson and Tim Teufel?

In 1986, Mookie Wilson batted .289 and had 25 steals while accumulating 3.0 WAR; Danny Heep batted .282, had an OPS+ of 123 and added .7 WAR off the bench; Howard Johnson had 10 HRs and 39 RBIs for 1.4 WAR good for an OPS of 118 in 1986, the year before he led the National League in home runs with 39 in 1987; and Tim Teufel added 25 extra base hits while accumulating .5 WAR backing up second, first and third.

This year’s bench has Juan Lagares batting .289 through June 17 and .5 WAR but his OPS+ is just above league average at 106.  Meanwhile Flores is hitting .248 while Campbell and De Aza are all still below the Mendoza line, at .159 and .171 respectively.

Advantage – 1986

Starting Pitching:

The 1986 Mets led the National League in wins, gave up the fewest runs in the league (3.57 per game) allowed the fewest baserunners (walks + hits per inning pitched, “WHIP” of 1.222) and gave up the fewest home runs per game at .6.

For those who have forgotten, or are too young to remember, the 1986 starting five consisted of Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda (who led the team with 18 wins) Sid Fernandez and Rick Aguilera.  Don’t overlook Aguilera who as the number five starter had the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio on the rotation.  Collectively, the starting five went 76-30 (a .717 winning percentage) with a 3.05 ERA and a WHIP (walks + hits per inning pitched) of 1.17.  Man those guys could pitch.

The current starting five of the Mets certainly have the potential to match their 1986 counterparts, assuming Harvey rights himself and Matz and Syndergaard continue to develop.  So far this season (stats through June 17) the Mets starting five have a 27-20 record (a very good but inferior to their 1986 counterparts winning percentage of .622). Their ERA is 3.05 and their collective WHIP is 1.17.

With the same ERA so far, and the exact same WHIP, the 2016 starting rotation has the potential to match, and perhaps even exceed the 1986 team, at this point.

Advantage – 1986

Bullpen:

The top five members of the current Mets bullpen, led by closer Jeurys Familia has a 6-6 record through June 17, with a 3.02 ERA and 23 saves and a WHIP of 1.21.  The 23 saves projects to more than 58 saves, and as noted recently, Familia now owns the club record for consecutive saves.  The 1986 team had two closers, lefty Jessie Orosco who went 8 – 6 with 21 saves and righty Roger McDowell who had 14 wins and 22 saves.  The top 5 performers in the 1986 bullpen went a combined 30 – 21 with a 2.92 ERA, 45 saves and a WHIP of 1.29.  The current bull pen projects to have more saves and a lower WHIP than their 1986 counterparts, but the 1986 bullpen had a better won-loss record.  The ERAs are virtually the same, so my vote says –

Advantage – Even

Results At A Glance:

1986 vs 2016

It’s tough to match up with a team that holds the club’s single season records for wins, and won the World Series.  This year’s team is close though, and will hopefully add a third World Series trophy to the team’s trophy cabinet.

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This MMO Fan Shot was written by MMO reader Carl Aridas. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily. Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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MMO Game Thread: Dodgers vs Mets, 8:05 PM (ESPN) http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-thread-dodgers-vs-mets-805-pm-espn.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/mmo-game-thread-dodgers-vs-mets-805-pm-espn.html/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 21:49:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213351 bartolo colon

Sunday, May 28, 2016 • 8:08 p.m.
Citi Field • Flushing, N.Y.
LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44)
ESPN • WOR 710 AM • ESPN 1050 AM

Well last night was, interesting. The night started off with a beautiful ceremony to recognize the 1986 Mets. Then came the game and things went down hill quickly. Syndergaard threw a pitch behind Utley, which under any other circumstance where teams have tension, would have resulted in a warning to both benches.

However there was an umpire who was inexperienced behind the plate and he immediately tossed Syndergaard. I’ve watched a lot of baseball and I’ve never seen such a quick pull of the ejection trigger. Anyway the Dodgers went on to score a bunch of runs, Utley did most of the damage, and it all leads up to tonight’s rubber match.

Team Notes:

Noah Syndergaard may be used out of the bullpen for an inning on Tuesday. He will make his next start on turn Friday in Miami.

Newly acquired first baseman James Loney will be activated during the White Sox series on Tuesday, when the Mets face right-handed starting pitcher Mat Latos. Loney was acquired from the Padres on Saturday for cash.

Mets Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson, RF
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
  3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
  4. Neil Walker, 2B
  5. Juan Lagares, CF
  6. Wilmer Flores, 3B
  7. Kevin Plawecki, C
  8. Eric Campbell, 1B
  9. Bartolo Colon, RHP

Dodgers Lineup

  1.  Chase Utley, 2B
  2. Corey Seager, SS
  3. Justin Turner, 3B
  4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
  5. Yasiel Puig, RF
  6. Joc Pederson, CF
  7. Howie Kendrick, RF
  8. A.J. Ellis, C
  9. Clayton Kershaw, LHP

Bartolo Colon and Clayton Kershaw have combined to win 343 games (Colon-222, Kershaw-121) and strikeout 4,120 batters (Colon-2,279 Kershaw-1,841). The duo has won four Cy Young Awards (Kershaw-three, Colon-one). Among active pitchers they rank 1-2 in shutouts (Kershaw-14, Colon-13).

Clayton Kershaw is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 10 career regular season starts vs. New York. He went 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA vs. the Mets in last year’s NL Division Series. Kershaw tossed a three-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts vs. the Mets earlier this season on May 12 at Los Angeles.

Bartolo Colon is 4-3 over 10 games and 9 starts with a 55.0 innings with a 3.44 ERA. He is coming off one of his strongest starts of the season after two not so good ones. Last time out he allowed 1 ER over 7.0 innings vs the Nationals. His one start against the Dodgers this year was not so good as he allowed 5 ER over 5 innings. The Dodgers have the following numbers vs Bartolo:

  • Crawford 6-36, 2 2B
  • Gonzalez 13-28, 2 2B, 3 HR
  • Kendrick 3-25
  • Utley 10-20, 2 2B, HR
  • Turner 1-12
  • Puig 0-9
  • Grandal 2-8, HR

Clayton Kershaw is Clayton Kershaw. He’s leading the league in ERA, again, for the 5th time in 6 seasons at 1.48 over a 7-1 record and 10 starts with 3 complete game shutouts and 79.0 innings. Currently he’s leading the league in innings (he did that last year too) and is leading the game in complete game shutouts at 3. He lead the league with 3 in that same category all of last season. All three complete game shutouts came in the month of May starting off with the Padres, then two starts later against the Mets and then his last start (also two starts later), the Reds. The Mets have the following numbers against the Mets:

  • Wright 3-21, 2B
  • Granderson 4-20, 2B
  • Walker 1-12
  • Cespedes 1-12
  • Lagares 1-12
  • Rivera 2-8
  • Cabrera 2-7

Let’s Go Mets!

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Talkin’ Mets Podcast: Remembering ’86, Syndergaard vs. Utley, Health of David Wright http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/talkin-mets-podcast-remembering-86-syndergaard-vs-utley-health-of-david-wright.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/talkin-mets-podcast-remembering-86-syndergaard-vs-utley-health-of-david-wright.html/#comments Sun, 29 May 2016 18:48:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=213364 1986 World Series - New York Mets v Boston Red Sox

Memorial Day Weekend is in full swing and this week’s Talkin’ Mets podcast is a perfect way to spend some downtime.

First, former member of the 1986 Mets Doug Sisk joins me to talk about the ’86 team, the innocent climb of ’84 and ’85, and why he decided not to attend last night’s ceremony at Citi Field.

Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post chats about his memories of Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS. It’s a game that often gets forgotten because of the wild comeback in the World Series. Mike also talks about how the ’86 season was full of other great teams in the New York area- all of which get forgotten and overshadowed by the Mets. Finally, hear his take on Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard‘s ejection.

I wrap up the show with MMO’s Chris the Teacher who shares his thoughts on David Wright‘s latest injury. Chris also has stenonsis from his collegiate playing days and offers a cautionary warning of what to expect from Wright the rest of this season.

 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PODCAST

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WIN FREE VIP TICKETS TO KINGS OF QUEENS 1986 METS REUNION! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/win-free-vip-tickets-to-kings-of-queens-1986-mets-reunion.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/05/win-free-vip-tickets-to-kings-of-queens-1986-mets-reunion.html/#comments Fri, 13 May 2016 18:22:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=211639 1986 mets bw

Hey Mets Fans!

How would you like to go to the hottest Mets event of the year celebrating the 1986 World Champion New York Mets!

Here’s your opportunity to Win A Free VIP Ticket to the Kings of Queens Reunion with Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and the 1986 Mets. Here are the details followed by how you can win a FREE TICKET to the event.

What: Kings of Queens 1986 Mets Reunion - Open Bar, Hors d’oeuvres, Photo Opportunities

Where: The 40/40 Club, 6 West 25th St (at Broadway), NYC

When: May 26th, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

jesse orosco 1986

It’s been 30 years since the 1986 Mets won 108 games and the World Series capturing the hearts of New York and fans everywhere.

Led by an unforgettable cast of characters including Doc, Straw, Mookie and Orosco, the Mets left a trail of wreckage in their wake winning 108 games on their way to defeating the Boston Red Sox in an unforgettable seven game World Series.

They curtain called their way to the team’s only championship since 1969 and into the hearts of Mets fans forever.

Steiner Sports the leader in authentic hand signed collectibles and sports experiences is putting together an “Amazin” evening with 4 of the biggest names from that Mets ’86 championship team, “Dr. K” Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson and Jesse Orosco on May 26th at the 40/40 Club!

Tickets start at $250 and can be purchased by calling 914-307-1065 or going to www.steinersports.com today.

WIN A PAIR OF VIP TICKETS WORTH $500!

Metsmerized Online has been authorized to giveaway a FREE PAIR OF VIP TICKETS to this exciting and exclusive event. To enter our special random drawing all you need to do is TWO THINGS:

1. SHARE THIS ARTICLE VIA YOUR TWITTER OR FACEBOOK ACCOUNT!

2. EMAIL US AT CONTEST@METSMERIZEDONLINE.COM WITH YOUR FULL NAME, TWITTER, CONTACT EMAIL AND “I WANT THOSE VIP TICKETS!” IN SUBJECT LINE.

One winner will be randomly selected and will win VIP Access for him/her plus a guest.

Deadline to enter is May 19.

Winner will be announced on this site and on Twitter on May 20.

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MMO Exclusive: Catching Up With Darryl Strawberry http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-exclusive-catching-up-with-darryl-strawberry.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/04/mmo-exclusive-catching-up-with-darryl-strawberry.html/#comments Tue, 19 Apr 2016 15:32:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=209244  IMG_4345 2

Baseball players tend to disappear after retirement. Without the spotlight of national media, or admiration of thousands of fans, they fade back into mainstream society. They leave only memories, and their absence from the game makes it easy to forget that these guys we watched on TV are still real people. My mission is to make fans remember these forgotten players by seeking them out and talking to them in our quest to answer our burning question, “Where are they now?”

I recently ran in to Darryl Strawberry at a Syracuse Crunch hockey game and he was kind enough to answer a few questions about the 1986 Mets, playing baseball in Queens and the Bronx, and his life after baseball.  A huge thanks to the Syracuse Crunch PR department for permitting us to do this interview.

For those of you looking to listen, here’s the podcast.

Noah: So you won a World Series, played on several contending teams, made nine all star appearences and put up some outstanding numbers over your career. Looking back on it all, what was your finest moment while on the Mets?

Darryl: The finest moment from my time on the team was coming to a place of winning. 1986 especially was a great year for us, winning the National League Championship after going through a great Houston ball club before winning in the World Series.

Noah: What was it like playing on that 1986 team? You guys could make a case that you were one of the best in history.

Darryl: Well we were, and we always will be one of the best teams in history. I don’t think (today) that you can find a group of guys who had such determination (to win) no matter what the circumstances were. We always knew how to battle back, and that’s what baseball is all about.

Noah: You also won rookie of the year in 1983 after being drafted first overall. How did you cope with the pressure of playing in New York as a high draft pick?

Darryl: Once I got to (New York) and got comfortable, my hitting coach Jim Frey helped me settle in (physically). Things started to work out for me because I started to come to the ballpark early everyday to prepare myself. As a young player you have to do that at the major league level to be successful.

Noah: Can you pinpoint any one player or coach who shaped you as a player or as an individual?

Darryl: Well I think I would say Jim Frey, the hitting coach at the time. He had a lot to do with helping me be successful during my rookie season. And then Bill Robinson and Davey Johnson came over and they really moved me forward in my career, helping me learn the game and play it the right way.

darryl strawberry

Noah: We can say that -and Mets fans everywhere will agree with me on this one- game 6 of the 1986 World Series was one of the most iconic moments in Mets history. Take me through the last few innings of that game, what was the atmosphere like in the dugout?

Darryl: We were struggling there for a while because we didn’t know if we could come back. We started to put things together with hits here and hits there and we just tried to stay focused as a team. It didn’t surprise me to see guys coming through because that was what we were about that whole season. We were always in situations where we needed to come back in ball games and we knew how to do that.

Noah: What was your reaction when Jesse Orosco recorded that final out?

Darryl: It’s done! We finally did it, we are the champions of baseball. It was something that we all were striving for all season, and we didn’t know if we were going to accomplish it going in, but we did.

Noah: You faced some of the greatest pitchers in baseball during your career. Who were you most scared to face and why?

Darryl: I wasn’t scared, but facing the great Nolan Ryan was difficult for me. He was just a different breed, he had a different look about himself, and I never feared anyone until I faced him for the first time. There was a lot of fear in my heart then but as time went by, I started to get comfortable against him. I then got to a point where I believed I could face anybody, it didn’t matter who was on the mound.

Noah: After you signed with the Dodgers, was there anything you knew you would miss about playing in New York?

Darryl: Yeah the fans! Definitely not the media, even though I had some friends in there who treated me well. But a lot of them weren’t very nice because they didn’t know us, and they didn’t follow us everyday. They just spouted off opinions. But yeah, I definitely missed the fans most. They’re a very aggressive group, and I really loved that. I became comfortable with them, used to them, and their (aggressiveness) shaped my style of play.

Noah: Speaking of playing in New York, can you describe your experience playing for both the Mets and the Yankees? How was playing for each team different?

Darryl: The Mets are part of National League baseball, so it’s a speed game, and I got to run a lot. Going to the American League, it was about going for the homerun, which I was okay with. When I played on the Yankees, I had the chance to play on some great winning teams in 1996, 1998, and 1999 under the great Joe Torre. Playing for the Yankees was amazing and I also had some amazing years playing for the Mets.

IMG_0295 2

Noah: So now that you’ve been relatively out of the media spotlight for some time, tell me, what have you done since moving on from professional baseball?

Darryl: I’m an ordained minister now. I travel, I’m an evagelist, I preach the gospel. My ministry is Strawberryministries.org. I also spend a lot of time helping people. I have a (drug) treatment center in Florida called the Darryl Strawberry Recovery Center where I’m helping young people who struggle with substance abuse get better. It’s a chance for me to give back and show people that they can recover and that they can really change.

Noah: Where specifically has your retirement taken you?

Darryl: It’s taken me to a wonderful place. It’s better than baseball, better than anything that I could have ever imagined. I’m answering the call of my life and the call of God, who would have ever thought that I’d be preaching the gospel one day.

Noah: So tell me Darryl, do you have any regrets from your time with the Mets or your time in professional baseball?

Darryl: No regrets whatsoever. We all have a journey in life, and we all have to go on it; even though we don’t know what it’s going to be. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish the race (of life) and I’m just really grateful for the way my life has changed and the way that I’m finishing the race; giving back and helping others.

Noah: But that said, your career ended much earlier than it should have. You had 280 homers by age 29, and you were even drawing comparisons to Hank Aaron. Do you ever wonder what could have been?

Darryl: No, I never think about what could have been. I deal with what was and the way my course ran. I have no regrets. I think that too many people look back over the past and they can never move forward. I needed to move forward in my life and that’s what I did.

Noah: That’s a great way to be. Just switching gears now, I’m going to ask you a little bit about the Mets today. How closely have you been following the team?

Darryl: I really don’t follow them, I really don’t follow baseball. It’s nothing personal, my life is just very busy doing things to help others that I don’t really have a lot of time to (follow baseball) at this point.

Noah: Michael Conforto, the Mets’ current left fielder is another young talented left handed hitter who has a sweet swing just like you did. He was also a high draft pick. What advice would you offer a player like that for playing in New York?

Darryl: Work hard, have fun, and don’t get discouraged. There are a lot of ups and downs as you learn, but the most important thing is that you have to believe in your ability. I always believed in my own ability, no matter what anyone else had to say.

Noah: How do the 2016 Mets stack up to your 1986 Mets?

Darryl: (laughs) They don’t even compare, they’re not even close to what we were!

Noah: And lastly, if you could give any message to Mets fans today, what would it be?

Darryl: Just keep believing. Don’t get discouraged if the team doesn’t win right away. It took (my teams) a couple years to put the pieces together before we started winning. I know last year they made it to the World Series, but it won’t be a failure if they don’t make it back this year. As long as they have a great season and make it back to the playoffs, playing as well as they can, they’ll be great. Hopefully this team has made adjustments with learning the fundamentals of playing baseball because you have to make the plays in the World Series and the playoffs to win the championship. I hope that they’ve learned that over the past year.

Noah: Thank you Darryl, really appreciate your time.

Darryl: You got it.

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World Series Game 3 Thread: Royals vs Mets – Let’s Drop These Chumps! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/world-series-game-3-thread-royals-vs-mets-lets-drop-these-chumps.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/10/world-series-game-3-thread-royals-vs-mets-lets-drop-these-chumps.html/#comments Fri, 30 Oct 2015 17:55:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=198466 citi field world series

The New York Mets will send 23-year-old Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) to the mound against the Kansas City Royals in Game 3 of the World Series tonight at Citi Field. He will be opposed by Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08) for Royals.

The Heat Is On – Among pitchers with 150 innings in the regular season, Syndergaard had the highest average fastball velocity at 97.1 mph and Ventura ranked third with an average velocity of 96.3 mph. Ventura was actually first last season at 97.0 mph.

Home Sweet Home – The Mets are 29-14 (.674) all-time at home during postseason play, the best home winning percentage of any major league team in the postseason.

The Dude – Lucas Duda is the first player with a multi-hit game in each of his first two career World Series games since Shane Victorino in 2008. He is hitting .444 (4-9) with one RBI in the World Series and is 7-13 (.538) with two doubles, one home run and six RBI over his last three postseason games.

New York Mets Tickets

Mets Starting Lineup

  1. Curtis Granderson – RF
  2. David Wright – 3B
  3. Daniel Murphy – 2B
  4. Yoenis Cespedes – CF
  5. Lucas Duda – 1B
  6. Travis d’Arnaud – C
  7. Michael Conforto – LF
  8. Wilmer Flores – SS
  9. Noah Syndergaard – RHP

The Mets bring the series home to Citi Field after a rough start in Kansas City. After a 14 inning heartbreaker, the Mets could not get anything going against Cueto in Game 2, leading to a 2-0 series lead for Kansas City.

The 1986 Mets were the same, losing the first game by 1 run and the second game by 6 runs. All it takes is a win and we’re back in this, so let’s do this!

Noah Syndergaard takes the mound. He’s 9-7 over 24 starts with a 3.24 ERA this season over 150.0 innings. In the post-season he has allowed 3 ER over 6.1 innings, pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief, and then allowed 1 ER over 5.2 innings against Chicago.

He’s also won the heart of Pedro Martinez, and I forever have an image of him holding up the hammer yelling “THOOOORRRRRR” on those terrible TBS pre-game shows.

Not surprisingly, Thor has never faced the Royals in a major league game and the only player he has seen in a major league game will not be batting tonight (Johnny Cueto 0-2, I mean I guess he could get an AB, but I really, really doubt it).

On the other side, the Mets bats draw Yordano Ventura who was 13-8 in the regular season over 28 games and 163.1 innings with a 4.08 ERA. His first post-season start this year lasted 2.0 innings as he allowed 3 ER over 2.0 innings. He then started game 4 of the ALDS and allowed 3 ER over 5.0. In game 2 against Toronto he allowed 3 ER over 5.1 and he finally had a good start in game 6 against Toronto allowing 1 ER over 5.1 innings.

Ventura has never faced the Mets and the only Met that has seen him in a major league game is Cespedes who is 1-7 against him.

Let’s Go Mets!

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How Low Can You Go? Mets Peddling Relevance On A Shoestring… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/how-low-can-you-go-mets-peddling-relevance-on-a-shoestring.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2015/02/how-low-can-you-go-mets-peddling-relevance-on-a-shoestring.html/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:27:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=174903 chris-rock

I had some cheap friends when I was younger. Guys who had jobs and money but who didn’t like to spend any of it. I’m sure you all remember the type. The sort who liked to spend other people’s money and never smoked their own cigarettes. Reminds me of the Chris Rock skit from “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” where he walks into a rib joint and asks “how much for one rib?” Trying to buy a single rib for fifty cents and ten cents worth of soda, “pour it into my hand for a dime.” All the while he’s got a roll of $20 dollar bills in his shirt pocket. It’s how I feel about the Wilpons.

I’ve been defending this front office’s decision not to spend on free agents all winter. There’s an argument there. You can pick up any of the NY dailies and there will be at least one article slamming the Mets for not doing more, but it’s self-serving in a way. The quiet hot stove is bad business for the back pages. It’s like “C’mon Mets, I’m trying to make a living here, what the hell am I supposed to write about all winter? The Knicks??!!” That line could be from any number of NY sports journalists. But the truth is there really weren’t many tangible upgrades available which didn’t involve mortgaging the farm.

Sadly I’m afraid that’s been a convenient ruse. The real reason they didn’t spend is the same reason it’s always been, they’re still broke. Some might argue that they’re playing the pauper lest their creditors get the best of them, stashing their assets in equities insulated from their Mets enterprise, like the Chris Rock character with the hidden wad of twenties in his pocket … But I doubt it. Given the unprecedented level of fan discontent, I think the Wilpons would spend if they could.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Minnesota Twins

Yesterday’s news on Everth Cabrera signing with the Orioles for a whopping $2.4 million was the latest indicator. I know a lot of folks out there think Everth is a miscreant and a criminal, and that may be true, but hey, who are we to judge? All I know is I had this Everth kid on my fantasy team a couple of years ago and he killed it for me with hits and steals. Now sure, maybe he was juiced up, but I don’t know that he’s not worth a shot given how perfectly he fits our needs (lead-off and shortstop) … and for 2.4 million? You could probably scrape up 2.4 million searching through A-rod’s couch cushions.

But no. Everth signs with the Orioles. The frigging Orioles of Baltimore.

Here’s the thing. Say Sandy Alderson signs Everth Cabrera to a 1 year deal for $2.4 million. What is the worst that could happen? Cabrera has a minor league option so if he bombs or holds up a liquor store he could still be sent down to work things out. Sure he’d be an expensive minor leaguer but the upside is if he hits he’d be beating out Tejada … Tejada. And therein lies the rub … in Tejada, you have the kid who used to stop at the newsstand on the way home from school to buy a Moon Pie and 6 Swedish Fish with his pocket full of nickels … in Cabrera you have the kid who would mug him before he got there. Which one would you rather have playing for the Mets? Tough question I know.

While his numbers may not jump out at you, Cabrera has one thing Tejada (and the Mets team as a whole) sorely lacks, speed. Cabrera, 28 and a switch hitter, led the National League with 44 stolen bases (on 48 attempts) in 2012. If he regains his form he is a legitimate lead-off option. Now look, I’m not saying he’s this poor man’s Rafael Furcal or anything, but the guy was running a 3.1 WAR in 2013 when he got shut down for his Biogenesis run-in. I don’t think Tejada could touch 3 WAR if he fell into a vat of PED loaded hypodermic needles in an abandoned warehouse during a full moon. He’s just not that dynamic a player.  We’re also down one Eric Young and could use those wheels, but who needs team speed? Certainly not the Mets.

At 2.4 million? I mean, that’s like Pablo Sandoval’s cheesy-snack budget. That’s the 1986 Mets’ in-flight cocaine bill for crying out loud. Pocket change right? Nope. Not when it comes to the Wilpons. Here’s the crazy part. A best case is Cabrera hits around .280 with a .330 or so OBP and around 40 steals with a 2.0 to 3.0 WAR … he essentially replaces Tejada and pushes Flores over to 2B (which makes Murphy available) providing the Mets with a pesky lead-off presence. The Mets would actually save money under said scenario because they could shed Murphy’s salary … the risk? 2.4 million.  Or, Cabrera could just replace Tejada as back-up infielder. With a year of arbitration eligibility left after 2015, if Cabrera proves a capable SS and lead-off hitter the Mets would have solved these two annoying magpies with one well placed stone.

Mets Cubs

How cheap are the Mets? The possibility of a bona-fide lead-off option at short is not worth a 2.4 million gamble when they could simply play Flores there and bring up Hererra if and when they trade Murphy. It’s also not worth biting the bullet on Tejada’s salary should Cabrera prove more capable as a switch-hitting infield back-up/pinch runner (which I firmly believe he would). That’s pretty damned cheap folks, especially for a team trying to sell fans on this idea that they’re contenders.

The Orioles have had some success with reclamation projects … They were after all the team that gave Nelson Cruz a shot. It’s not like the Mets haven’t tiptoed into those waters, Marlon Byrd was one such player. It could be that the Wilpons, given their sterling reputation, put the kibosh on signing a guy with a lengthy and colorful rap sheet. That’s what they’ll tell us … too many  “character questions.” Don’t you believe it … this guy would have been a perfect low risk high reward gamble to throw into our middle infield mix were the Mets in a position to scrape together 2.4 million.

They are not.

They are broke.

We’re talking trawling for pennies and dimes at the fountain in the mall broke … picking cigarette butts out of ashtrays in the park broke … the Mets aren’t just “limited,” they are picking pizza crusts out of the trash and living out of a cardboard box broke.

Now Ownership has even taken to peddling relevance as if the pennant is a foregone conclusion … perhaps in the hope that they’ll sell enough tickets to actually increase payroll? Or to pay down debt? I’ll let you decide which.

And all the while they cling feverishly with their greasy fingers to this beleaguered franchise as if it’s some relic from a by-gone life buried under a heap of rags in a shopping cart, without regard to the once in a generation pitching talent whose window will close as quickly as it opened.

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Alderson’s Draft Picks Are Indication Of Long Term Plan http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/aldersons-draft-picks-are-indication-of-long-term-plan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/aldersons-draft-picks-are-indication-of-long-term-plan.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 16:31:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168341 brandon nimmoThe hardest thing about building a winning team is the anticipation. Before 1996, there were no guarantees that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and the rest of a very young Yankees team would prosper at the same time, if at all. The same can be said about the 1986 Mets. Frank Cashen took Darryl Strawberry with the #1 overall pick in the 1980 draft. It happened to be the very first pick Cashen made in New York and it turned out pretty well.

Fast forward to 2011 when Sandy Alderson took over the Mets and selected Brandon Nimmo with the 13th overall pick in the draft. Like Strawberry, Nimmo was a high school outfielder with a ton of raw talent. It took Strawberry three years to reach the majors, debuting in 1983. Three years after that, they won the World Series. Now Alderson is hoping Nimmo is on the same track.

An interesting note from Cody Derespina of Newsday revolved around other high school players taken early in the draft.

“Since 1980, there have been 16 high school players drafted No. 1 overall. That list includes Strawberry, Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Gonzalez and Joe Mauer. Of the 14 No. 1 picks out of high school from 1980-2011, only Brien Taylor, Matt Bush and Tim Beckham didn’t debut in the majors within three years. Bush and Taylor never even made it to the bigs.”

Nimmo being a 13th overall pick won’t fit into that group but it’s clear that the Mets have completely abandoned a win-now approach in favor of the win-long-term strategy. Mets’ vice president for player development and scouting Paul DePodesta, had this to say about building for the future.

“We’re not necessarily looking for quick fixes. We hopefully plan on being here for a while and really trying to do this right. We’re not going to take a guy just because he might be the quickest mover to the big leagues.”

Nimmo will enter his fifth season in the Mets minor league system this spring at the age of 22. As Derespina points out, three to four years isn’t all that long for a high school player to mature and Nimmo will take longer than that. Gavin Cecchini and Dominic Smith were other players who Alderson drafted out of high school and who are unlikely to debut anytime soon.

Derespina also notes that with Alderson’s contract extension in place, he’ll likely be around until 2017 and by then, Cecchini, Smith, Nimmo and 2014 first-rounder Michael Conforto could debut.footer

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Morning Grind: James Shields Should Stay in Kansas City http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/morning-grind-james-shields-should-stay-in-kansas-city.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/morning-grind-james-shields-should-stay-in-kansas-city.html/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 11:25:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168192 James shields

Big Game James Shields will likely leave Kansas City this offseason and will command a hefty deal in free agency this offseason. But if the Royals win the World Series, he should consider staying.

While I certainly won’t begrudge Shields the opportunity to enter free agency as a top flight, durable pitcher who may command a nine-figure contract… but by staying in Kansas City, he’ll get something he likely won’t be able to get anywhere else. Godhood.

Okay, maybe that’s a little strong, but think about it for a minute. He’s helped KC get to a once in a generation promised land. Just look at our own history – the Mets have taken home two crowns. The 1969 and 1986 Mets are legends. Keith and Ron have turned that one title into a successful postseason career. Bob Ojeda has been in the studio for years. Tim Teufel is on the staff. Wally Backman (even though he hasn’t been promoted to manager) is in the family. Mookie and HoJo remain legends. Let us not forget Darryl and Doc (even though both later became Yankees, they’re always and forever Mets). Even Rafael Santana is a member of the Alumni Association and makes appearances on the Mets behalf.

But what about Ray Knight? Knight has had a very successful post playing career. He was already a major league manager and is currently a broadcaster for the Washington Nationals. He also left the Mets via free agency and signed with the Baltimore Orioles after he and Frank Cashen were unable to agree upon a contract. Ray was also one of the few members of the 1986 team who did not appear for the 20th anniversary celebration of the 1986 team. Regardless of the reason for his departure following the season, the World Series MVP isn’t as beloved as his teammates. We see the replays, we know his fiery toughness, but he isn’t revered in the same manner that other members of the 1986 team are.

Should the Royals win the World Series, Shields can stay and become another Conquering Hero and a Hometown Legend. Or he can take the money and run and become another version of Ray Knight. Or Mike Hampton.

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Mets to Honor Frank Cashen with Patch and Moment of Silence http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-to-honor-frank-cashen-with-patch-and-moment-of-silence.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/mets-to-honor-frank-cashen-with-patch-and-moment-of-silence.html/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:32:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=159519 ny_e_cashen_patch_b1_300x300

The Mets will honor the late general manager Frank Cashen on Friday night, before the start of their game against the Texas Rangers at Citi Field.

The team announced that they will wear a patch with Cashen’s initials on it, and that it will be worn on the right sleeve for the remainder of the season, just below the patch remembering late broadcaster Ralph Kiner.

The Mets also will have a moment of silence in memory of Cashen.

June 30

gary-carter-frank cashenSadly, the New York Mets announced that former general manager Frank Cashen died today at Memorial Hospital in Easton, Maryland, after a short illness at the age of 88.

Known for his signature bow tie, Cashen was the architect of the 1986 Mets World Series championship team.

Hired in 1980, Cashen transformed a last-place team into a juggernaut that became the most dominant force in baseball.

He made the trades that brought first baseman Keith Hernandez and future Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter to the Mets, and was responsible for drafting Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.

“Frank was our leader,” Strawberry said in a statement. “I always admired the way he put together our team. He mixed young guys, like me and Doc, with guys like Carter and Hernandez. He was able to find the perfect blend to build a championship.”

Cashen also hired his former second baseman in Baltimore, Davey Johnson, to be the Mets’ manager.

“He was a man of integrity and honestly, and that was most important. He told you the truth,” Keith Hernandez said. “It was a day when the general managers didn’t pal around with the players. We hardly ever saw him, but there was a relationship there. He was just a wonderful man.”

“On behalf of all of us at the Mets, we extend our deepest condolences to Jean Cashen and her entire family,” Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon said in a statement. “Frank Cashen revitalized our franchise when he took over in 1980 as general manager and helped engineer us to a world championship in 1986.

“I dealt with Frank on a daily basis, and he was a man of integrity and great passion. No one had a more diverse career than Frank. He was also a lawyer, sports writer and marketing executive. His accomplishments will always be an integral part of our team history.”

Before working with the Mets, Cashen had been a front office executive with the Orioles during their World Series title years in 1966 and 1970 and later served as their GM.

In recent years, Cashen spent his time in Easton and in Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Mets hold spring training. He was in camp with the Mets this year.

He is survived by wife Jean, seven children and nine grandchildren.

R.I.P. Mr. Cashen.

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What Would The 1986 Mets Be Making In Today’s Dollars? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/what-would-the-1986-mets-be-making-in-todays-dollars.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/what-would-the-1986-mets-be-making-in-todays-dollars.html/#comments Sun, 19 Jan 2014 15:00:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140186 1986 ojeda fernandez gooden darling

Baseball-Reference.com has a pretty cool feature where you can translate a player’s salary for any particular year into current year dollars.

I was curious, so I wanted to see how much the 1986 Mets would be paid in 2013 dollars. This just goes to show how much money has flowed into the game since then… not only at the top end of the spectrum, but at the current MLB minimum as well. Nearly half the roster was making the equivalent of less than the current MLB minimum.

Dillon Gee would be paid more than every player, but George Foster, Gary Carter, and Keith Hernandez. And Lucas Duda is practically asking for Darryl Strawberry money…

George Foster – $5.96M

Gary Carter – $4.6M

Keith Hernandez – $3.51M

Dwight Gooden – $2.81M

Darryl Strawberry – $2.01M

Jesse Orosco – $1.76M

Mookie Wilson – $1.49M

Ray Knight – $1.37M

Lee Mazzilli – $1.3M

Bob Ojeda – $1.17M

Ron Darling – $937K

Danny Heep – $745K

Wally Backman – $692K

Doug Sisk – $586K

Rafael Santana – $500K

Howard Johnson – $484K

Tim Teufel – $426K

Sid Fernandez – $426K

Roger McDowell – $394K

Rick Aguilera – $277K

Lenny Dykstra – $197K

Randy Niemann – $177K

Kevin Mitchell – $128K

Ed Hearn – $128K

Kevin Elster – $128K

Presented By Diehards

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To Boldly Go Where No GM Has Gone Before: Why the Mets Will Never Win with Alderson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/to-boldly-go-where-no-gm-has-gone-before-why-the-mets-will-never-win-with-alderson.html/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 12:50:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=129154 Mets-fan-sad

A couple of nights ago I’m on Facebook checking out a page for fellow Mets fans. We’re all rejoicing in the Yankees misery. I, too, add a few comments and threw in a joke about ‘A-Roid.’ Someone else commented about us playing spoiler and knocking the Nats further back. Then, it hit me. This is what we’ve become.

We have nothing hopeful to cheer for, so yet again this season, we are reduced to the role of spoiler. (Of course, we don’t even do that well since Washington swept us). And while we celebrate the failures of the Yankees, do you think they even care about us? They’ve got more important things to worry about. We’re not even a (blue and orange) fly on the ass of a (pinstriped) cow.

The 2013 Mets will finish under 500 for the fifth straight year, something this club hasn’t done since the early 1990’s. And despite Sandy Alderson’s (ahem) “plan,” he is now weeks away from completing his third season as Mets GM and each year, our win total has gone down. We own the worst home record in baseball, 7th worst overall.

Remember just a few years back when we were laughing at small market clubs like Pittsburgh and Kansas City?

When our Mets were resurrected from Grant’s Tomb, ownership and GM Frank Cashen provided hope. Things improved, albeit slowly. We signed slugger George Foster, one of the most prolific home run hitters in the game, we reacquired Dave Kingman for power and to excite the fan base, brought back Tom Terrific. Sure, a lot of these plans failed, but we had hope, we had excitement and we had promise that a brighter future was on the horizon. After three years of the Alderson regime, are you more or less optimistic? Do you think this team is heading in the right direction? To steal a line from past presidential elections, are the Mets better off now than they were three years ago?

Our decreasing win total and plummeting attendance show the direction we’re heading.

alderson-on-reyesAlderson’s big accomplishment—and really his only one—was getting Zack Wheeler. And while Wheeler has turned into our de facto ace due to the injury to the Minaya-acquired Matt Harvey, Carlos Beltran’s bat would sure help right now. During 2012 and thus far in 2013, Beltran has clobbered 55 HR’s, knocked in 173 and hit .288. One fact that gets overlooked is that Alderson also handed over $4 million to San Francisco along with Beltran for Wheeler.

Frank Cashen knew about building a winner. He turned the Orioles into a perennial contender in the late 60’s and kept them relevant through the entire next decade. He did the same upon arriving in NY. Alderson, however, has never re-built a team. I’m not faulting him. He’s just in over his head.

In 1984 while GM of Oakland, Alderson traded 25 year old Rickey Henderson who was just coming into his prime. In exchange for dealing the greatest lead-off hitter in history, Alderson got back five players. The only one of substance was Jose Rijo. However, just as Rijo was maturing and developing, Alderson turned around and traded him away for a 37 year-old Dave Parker. Rijo would go on to guide Cincinnati to a World Series, become a NL All-Star and lead the league in strikeouts. And that Rickey Henderson guy? He did okay, too.

Still have faith in…(insert dramatic music)…The Plan?

rickey-henderson-hall-of-fame-speech - Copy

Alderson has persistently maintained that he will build a winner from within and not rely on signing players. Many Mets fans initially agree. After all, we’re not the Yankees. We don’t buy pennants. We build from our own talent, just like we did in 86 and 69, right? Wrong!!!

No team, not even our Amazins, has ever won solely on homegrown talent. It helps and sure, it’s rewarding to win with guys from your farm system. But it’s never been done exclusively. As Mr. Spock would say, “Illogical.” To win, you need that perfect blend of rookies AND veterans, of your own youngsters AND proven winners.

In the 80’s, Darryl Strawberry was the best offensive prospect the Mets ever brought up. And Doc? Well, Doc broke more records than were shattered during Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. In spite of the fact these two seemed a lock for Cooperstown, Cashen realized he needed more. He traded for Keith Hernandez, a World Champion, former MVP and proven winner. He added Gary Carter who had an unquenchable thirst to win. He obtained fiery Ray Knight. And while Gooden, Ron Darling and Sid Fernandez were solid, Cashen acquired Bobby Ojeda from Boston, whose 18 wins would lead the staff in 1986.

Can anyone picture the Mets winning in ’86 without Keith, Gary, Ray and Bobby?

Can anyone out there envision Alderson bringing that caliber of player to New York?

When the Mets won the pennant in ’73 and came within one hit of winning it all, sure, we had Tug and Cleon and Buddy. But the player who led the team in hits and batting average that season was Felix Millan, a second baseman acquired from Atlanta. Rusty Staub came in a trade from Montreal and was the team leader in RBI’s. And the pitcher with the best winning percentage was not Seaver, Koosman or Matlack, but rather George Stone, yet another player obtained via a trade. Stone was 9 games over 500 for a team that finished just 3 games over 500. Take away Millan, Staub and Stone—players acquired through trade—and there’s no pennant.

gal-60mets-31-jpgThe same holds true going back to 1969 when trades were rare and largely unheard of. Buddy Harrelson stated that when the Mets acquired Donn Clendenon that June, the players began to believe. Clink was a legitimate home run threat. And as Seaver won his first Cy Young Award and Cleon hit .340, it was ex-White Sox and former Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee who was the team leader in homers and runs scored.

Anyone out there holding their breath that Alderson will obtain a former Rookie of the Year?

In addition to Alderson’s long history of never making a blockbuster trade—and I won’t even mention about getting losing of a batting champion one winter followed by getting rid of a Cy Young winner the next – his decisions when it comes to managers is even more baffling. It is evident that Wally Backman will be gone soon, discarded by the front office after years of loyalty (and years of winning) as if he was an old rosin bag. Wally does not fit in with the Mets plan. He’s too abrasive, too demanding, too hard. He battles the front office too much. So, instead of promoting a proven winner, we’ll stick with Terry Collins and his .459 winning percentage.

No Mets manager ever butted heads with his GM more than Davey Johnson did with Cashen. And Cashen knew that ahead of time. He was Baltimore’s GM in the 1960’s when Davey was their second baseman. Cashen was fully aware of the tinderbox he was creating by hiring Davey. But Davey had won in the minors, Davey knew his team and the young players—Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra—were loyal to him. Cashen overlooked his own feelings for the good of the team. He didn’t care about the clash of personality. He accepted the challenge because he had the smarts to realize that Davey Johnson, like Wally, was a proven winner. This is an area where Alderson is plainly deficient.

World-Series-Game-7-4 - Copy - Copy

While GM in Oakland, although his skipper was successful, Alderson let him get away. The brash, unorthodox and outspoken Tony LaRussa took his baseball experience and acumen to St. Louis where he guided the Cardinals to 10 post-seasons in 15 years, including three pennants and two championships. During Alderson’s later stint with the Padres, he had no qualms about letting Bruce Bochy slip through his fingers. Bochy headed north to San Francisco where he brought the Giants their first title since moving to the west coast in 1958. Two years later, Bochy brought them another one.

“This is a wait and see season, here just to be survived by fans until the real fixing can be done. We knew this year would be painful.”

I thought the above quote I discovered was poignant. And also, ironic. It appeared on a website on May 25, 2011, three seasons ago. Since then, the Mets have lost 228 games. Seems like not much has changed.

So, we’ll continue to wait…and wait…and wait some more for Alderson’s “plan” to magically take hold. He makes promises, losses pile up, players get injured, and the future looks no brighter…but we continue waiting. We’ve now waited 27 years for a championship. We’ll keep waiting. We’ll watch other teams play into October, we’ll hope Alderson shores up the bullpen this winter, signs a couple of bats, we’ll look for updates on Matt Harvey—and I’m sure we’ll get a few funny jokes via Twitter from our GM while the Red Sox or Pirates or Tigers get fitted for World Series rings. He may not know how to win, how to improve a team, how to rebuild a franchise…but, hey, he’s funny. So, at least we’ll laugh while we wait…and wait…

Once upon a time there was a baseball team. They were good, very good. Solid, well-balanced. They had three players with over 80 RBI’s. Two of their starters won 20 games and had ERA’s under 3.00. Of the eight position players, five hit over 300, including the catcher who hit .344. This team won 100 games, enough to capture the NL pennant. They went to the World Series where they fell short, losing to Detroit in six games.

This team was the 1935 Cubs. And although it had been 27 years since their last World Championship in 1908, I’m sure they felt optimistic about their future, too. Granted, 27 years was a long time to wait, they must have thought, but “I’m sure we’ll win soon. We must have some sort of plan.”

Amazin?

Or as Mr. Spock would say…Mr_SpockFascinating

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Cheering For Dwight Gooden… Again http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/cheering-for-dwight-gooden-again.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/cheering-for-dwight-gooden-again.html/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 12:23:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=125004 doug flynn

I was 12 years old in the summer of 1978 when I heard the coolest news ever… My friend Lee called and told me he’d heard from a friend of a friend who knew where Mets second baseman Doug Flynn lived. And it was just down the street from me!

True, this wasn’t Jerry Koosman or Steve Henderson or Craig Swan. But it still was a real live Mets player.

Lee and I both lived in Bayside and Doug Flynn (supposedly) lived in the middle of three buildings that neighborhood kids referred to as ‘The Towers’ right off the Cross Island Parkway overlooking Little Neck Bay.

Lee had heard that Flynn lived on the 14th floor but didn’t know the exact apartment number. The two of us spent a day forging a plan. How would we find out which exact apartment? How would we get passed the doorman?

The following day we put our plan into action. It was one of the only times in my youth I went out without my Mets hat. I didn’t want to give myself away and spoil our flawlessly devised plot.

“What do you kids want?” asked the burly doorman, eying us suspiciously.

“I’m looking for a friend of mine who lives here,” I said, scanning the endless sea of names in the tenant’s directory.

I thought it was pretty clever…until he replied, “Oh, yea? What’s his name?”

Uh oh. “We can’t remember,” Lee responded as I continued checking the resident listing. I didn’t see “D. Flynn” anywhere.

With that, we were told to get our you-know-what off the property. Well, so much for meeting a Met. However, one name I caught a glimpse of was “S. Woods” in apt 14-K. As Lee and I regrouped we decided that had to be him. A code name. Woods. What are benches made of? Wood. And who was the Cincinnati catcher Doug Flynn played with before coming to NY as part of the Tom Seaver trade? Yep, Johnny Bench. It was all coming together. The extra proof was the apt #. 14-K. K…as in strikeout. Coincidence? I think not.

We spent the afternoon attempting different ways to bypass the doorman. (Doesn’t this guy ever take a break?) We offered to help little old ladies inside with their packages so we could gain access. We looked for a way to climb the fence into the pool area. A back door? A laundry room? Something???

starsky hutchWe snuck into the underground parking lot, exhaust fumes filling our lungs. Occasionally we’d get sidetracked by our own imagination, making guns with our hands as we darted between parked cars and “shot” at each other like we were Starsky and Hutch.

Then, it dawned on me. Even if we did manage to meet “S. Woods,” aka Doug Flynn, what would we say? I mean, Lee was 13, I was 12. And Doug Flynn was a real live major leaguer.

Our plan failed. We never got to meet the mystery resident in 14-K.

A few days later I was riding in my elevator. An elderly neighbor with white hair who stood at four foot nothing casually mentioned to another passenger, “I was having breakfast in the coffee shop in Bay Terrace yesterday and guess who was sitting across from me? Doug Flynn.”

I was shocked, flabbergasted. The only thing I could think of to say was, “What did he eat?”

“Bacon and eggs,” Miriam responded.

Bacon and eggs? This was a letdown. Bacon and eggs? I eat bacon and eggs, too. Surely, being a professional ballplayer he should be eating different food than me. Maybe even some baseball-related food, like a hot dog. Or Cracker Jacks. But no, Doug Flynn, professional major leaguer, was just like me.

12138878-doc-bookA few days ago I concluded reading Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden and Ellis Henican. That 12 year old kid scampering around an underground garage like Starsky is a fading memory. But after reading Doc’s memoir, I was once again reminded that ballplayers are people, too. They have issues to deal with. They have families. They eat bacon and eggs.

We come home from our jobs, turn on a ballgame and watch others do their job. We venture out to Flushing to escape our own lives for a few hours to watch others work. But those guys down on that field are people just like us.

Okay, maybe not exactly like us. While I still have some moderate success in the batting cages at my local miniature golf course, I’m not exactly David Wright. When Dwight Gooden, star pitcher of the Mets, walked into a Strip Club in the 80′s, his fame and popularity opened the door to going home with a few strippers.

Me? While I love writing for this site, when I advise a stripper, “I’m a blogger for Metsmerized,” I don’t get the same result as Doc did. Instead, I get an arched eyebrow, a curious look and, “Look, dude, do you want this lap dance or not?” So, yes, I guess ballplayers are a little different in some ways.

Joe reviewed this book a few weeks back and did a far better job that I ever could.  I found Doc’s memoir to be painful, disturbing. A tough read. But also inspiring. I read the nearly 300 pages in three sittings, stopping every once in a while to let some of what I just read ‘sink in.’

If you’re looking for a “baseball book” this is not it. If you’re hoping for a behind-the-scenes tell-all into the boozing, brawling and bimbo-chasing bad boys of 1986, this is not for you. The entire glorious 86 season is summed up in one chapter. Game Six gets 2 paragraphs.

10-dwight-doc-gooden-mets-low-pants-high-stirrups-worst-sports-uniform-innovations - CopyThis is not about the great Doctor K–Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner, starter of an All-Star game and surefire lock for Cooperstown. This is a book about Dwight Eugene Gooden, a man possessed by the demons of addiction—who just happened to be a baseball player.

Not many of us now first-hand what it’s like to be a baseball player. It’s not like we have family members or second cousins who play. However, many of us do have a close relationship to addiction. How many people reading this knows someone—a friend, family member—who battles some sort of addiction, be it alcohol, substance abuse, gambling, etc…While it’s difficult to relate to a “baseball player” it’s easier to relate to someone waging an internal struggle to NOT reach for that beer, to NOT do that line of Coke.

As I read this painful but moving story of a man’s life, a man who battled addiction brought on by a painful childhood and untold wealth, fame and popularity by being the top sports figure in the biggest city in America, I felt myself humbled. While reading this excellent work of non-fiction, at times I laughed. Other times, I was reminded of things I’d forgotten. I felt my blood boiling as Dwight recounted the way he was treated by prison intake guards during one of his incarcerations. And yes, I shed a few tears.

I even—as hard as this is to believe—gained a new respect for George Steinbrenner. I never thought I’d say this (or write this) but ‘King George’ was a class act.

In his words I found Dwight to be honest, humble, forthright and direct. He opened his heart and bared his soul for the entire world to see. He doesn’t make excuses for what he did. He doesn’t point fingers like that other player from the Mets he is frequently associated with. He accepts responsibility.

In Dwight’s blunt self-assessment of his life and his career, the words he uses leave no doubt. He is a man filled with sorrow. Not just for the heartache he brought upon his children, his wife, his parents, his family. But also for us Mets fans. You can’t help but get the feeling he is filled with guilt and regret. Dwight was 19 when he arrived in New York. A kid. But old enough to realize the hopes of an entire city rested on his teenage shoulder and in his teenage arm.

tom seaver dwight gooden

When Mets fans look back at the Dynasty that never was, it seems we view Doc as the poster child for everything that went wrong. I, too, had unfairly blamed him as one of the reasons.

I now feel it’s necessary NOT to blame Doc for what didn’t happen in the 80’s but to thank him for what he gave us.

In the summer of 91, my wife and I were living in Philly for a short time. One Saturday afternoon we drove up the Jersey Turnpike, across the Bronx and walked into Shea. The Mets were playing the Giants that day. As we sat in the mezzanine level along third base, I leaned over, tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to #16 on the mound. “One day,” I said, “we’ll be able to tell our grandkids that we saw the great Doc Gooden pitch.” We never had kids, grandkids and a decade later the marriage itself ended. But I did get to see the great Doc Gooden pitch.

I was too young to really appreciate the greatness I witnessed when Tom Seaver took the mound. And while Matt Harvey is a hell of a pitcher, he still has a ways to go. I can, however, confidently state that in forty years of rooting for the Mets I never—NEVER—saw a pitcher dominate a game the way he did.

By the time I finished reading this book, I was worn out. Reading about the roller coaster he endured left me physically drained. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for him.

In the 80’s, I found myself cheering for Doctor K, Doc Gooden.

Now, in something that’s ultimately more important than defeating the Cubs or Cardinals, I found myself cheering for Dwight Eugene Gooden. Not the prodigy, not the young star who would lead a baseball franchise out of the dark wilderness. Rather a man, a human being, who learned and made me once again realize that sometimes the game of life is more important than the game of Baseball.

I’ve always been a fan of Doc. Now I’m a fan of Dwight.

WIN A FREE SIGNED COPY OF DOC!

You can purchase a copy of DOC: A Memoir for less than the price of a nosebleed seat at good ol’ Shea. Or you can follow us on Twitter at @Metsmerized for a chance to win a FREE Signed Edition of Doc during tonight’s All Star Game.

Just tweet us your favorite Doctor K moment and include the hashtag #DocGooden

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Remembering The Great No. 8 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/remembering-the-great-no8.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/remembering-the-great-no8.html/#comments Sun, 03 Mar 2013 05:35:48 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=109666 PetanickI was walking around the mall yesterday with my wife, trying to get her to go into labor with our second child (first son). They say walking is good for kick-starting the labor process at this point, and as we were walking around, I decided to duck into the sports memorabilia store. I was pacing through the store, looking at the autographs of all the great players hanging on the wall, and I came across a beautiful autographed picture of Gary Carter.

The funny thing is, I was talking to Joe D earlier that day about how I was going to groom my son to be the next great Mets catcher, and then found myself standing in front of that beautifully framed picture of Carter. I had been in that store many times in the past, and never have seen a picture of Carter.

People sometimes wonder what the big deal of owning an autographed picture of a great athlete is. Well, if you find the right piece of memorabilia, it should stir up some memories…

Only the good die young.

We hear that saying all the time, but for a man that carried the nickname “the Kid,” it couldn’t be truer. As I sit here and reflect on one of my childhood heroes, it’s hard to envision the 1986 Mets team that we hold so dear in our hearts, ever reaching the heights they did that season without Carter. He brought stability and leadership to a young and immature team that was in desperate need of guidance. The Mets may have only one World Series under their belts today if it wasn’t for the Mets bringing Carter in for the 1985 season. I think everyone that knows the story of the ’86 Mets would agree that (sorry for the cheesy line but) without No. 8, they would have never been great.

Carter was the only good guy portrayed in the book The Bad Guys Won, which chronicled the crazy journey of 1986 Mets. He has an entire chapter dedicated to himself. The chapter starts off by calling him a “geek.” Literally.

The reason people called him a geek was because if you lumped all the other Mets players in a tank, and the water that filled the tank was represented by all the drug use, womanizing, and alcohol they consumed, Carter was like a bead of oil sitting on top of the water.

He never cursed, never wore cool clothes, never drank alcohol, never smoked, never used illegal drugs or cheated on his wife. For these behaviors, he was alienated in the clubhouse, and labeled a “geek.” The truth is Carter wasn’t a “geek.” He wasn’t a “kid.” He was what we would consider a man in it’s truest form. He was a role model. He was who every parent hoped their child would grow up to be. Oh, and the man could play ball.

The picture that stirred the echoes

The picture in the mall that stirred the emotions.

I remember when I was in little league, I convinced my coach to move me from my main position of shortstop, where I was an all-star, to catcher. I wanted to strap on those shin guards for one reason: Gary Carter. I still had the No. 1 on my back because Ozzie Smith’s back flips and smooth shortstop play had me hooked, but I was behind the plate grinding it out every game because of Carter. And I mean I was grinding it out. I’m not sure how many of you have played catcher in little league, but it isn’t as easy as it seems on the T.V. screen.

The professional pitchers hardly ever throw the ball in the dirt. Little League pitchers, on the other hand, throw it in the dirt quite often. I was bruised up from blocking all the balls, but I stuck with it, and it wasn’t long before I was named an all-star at catcher too. I remember the umpires would thank me at the end of every game because I would block all the wild pitches, saving them from taking their usual beating behind the plate. Evidently that was a rarity at that age.

They really should have thanked Gary Carter. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been back there blocking the balls that would normally giving them bruises. Carter was my favorite Mets player, but I eventually couldn’t take the abuse anymore that comes with blocking all those wild pitches. I ended up moving to the outfield to try and follow in the footsteps of my next childhood hero who also carried the nickname “the kid” – Ken Griffey Jr. I played the outfield all the way through college, and it earned me some tryouts for some major league teams, but I always regretted giving up on catching too soon.

I was a young boy during 1986, so I don’t remember much from that season. However, there are two moments that always stick out in my mind: the ball squibbling through Buckner’s legs in game six, and Gary Carter jumping into Jesse Orosco’s arms with that completely elated look on his face at the end of the ’86 World Series.

I also vaguely remember being at a game one summer night with my parents. At some point during the game, the umpire made a bad call. The three young men sitting in front of us decided to show the umpire how displeased they were with the call. First they got the umpire’s attention. Then they turned around very calmly, so that their backs were facing the field. After that, they dropped their pants in perfect unison, and proceeded to “moon” the umpire. Evidently, the 80s were a different time, because they didn’t get in trouble, but I can’t go to a Mets game without thinking about that moment.

Gary Carter will always be remembered as a great player (11 time All-Star and Hall of Famer), but he should also be remembered as a great man.  He showed us young Mets fans growing up how to play the game the way it was supposed to be played, and how to be a man, and not a “kid” like his nickname portrays him.

When looking back at that 1986 Mets team, it’s hard to believe that Carter was the youngest man to perish. With the way some of those Mets players abused their bodies with that indestructible feeling so many young men have, it’s amazing they haven’t experienced more health issues. It doesn’t seem fair that a person such as Carter was taken from us so young, especially when he lived his life in a manner that is said to provide us with longevity. I guess it must be true…the good really do die young.

garycarter

We’ll always remember you No. 8…

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Remembering Gary Carter: Sometimes There IS Crying In Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/remembering-gary-carter-sometimes-there-is-crying-in-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/remembering-gary-carter-sometimes-there-is-crying-in-baseball.html/#comments Sat, 16 Feb 2013 13:52:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=72433 garycarter
Keith Hernandez flied out to center for the second out of the inning. A tomblike silence fell over Shea. Fans stared in disbelief. The 108 regular season wins plus 6 more in the post-season meant nothing. Vin Scully announced Marty Barrett was chosen player of the game.

And then…number 8 stepped to the plate.

In a career that spanned nearly 2300 games and 8000 at-bats over 19 seasons, there are many memorable moments. However, the defining moment of his hall-of-fame career, what typified Gary Carter, was something that happened OFF the field.

“The Mets are still alive,” said Vin Scully as Carter lined a 2-1 offering into left.

In Spring Training 1974, Expos teammates Ken Singleton and Mike Jorgensen chided the exuberant rookie. 19 year old Gary Carter was trying to win every sprint, hit every pitch over the wall. His childlike enthusiasm for the game prompted them to call him ‘The Kid.’

As a late September call-up, “The Kid” made his major league debut. He caught the back end of a double header against the defending NL Champion Mets. He went 0-for-4.

Baseball is and always will be a game of stats. But sometimes even that, no matter how impressive they may be, do not accurately measure the impact of a player. Sure, Gary was an 11 time All-Star, 5 time Silver Slugger, 2 time MVP of the All-Star Game and winner of 3 Gold Gloves. He hit 324 career HR’s and batted in 1225. But that did not define him.

“And the Mets refuse to go quietly,” said Vin Scully, after Kevin Mitchell singled and Carter moved to second.

The road to the Championship began in 1983. In May, the Mets brought up highly touted rookie Darryl Strawberry. Just weeks later, Frank Cashen sent Neil Allen to STL in exchange for former MVP and proven winner Keith Hernandez. 1984 saw the debut of rookie phenom Doc Gooden. But still, something was missing. The crème de la crème came in December 84 when Gary Carter joined the Mets. “He was the final piece of the puzzle,” explained Keith.

On April 9, 1985, one day after his 31st birthday, Gary made his debut with the Mets. He hit a solo HR in the 10th off of Neil Allen to give the Mets a 6-5 Opening Day victory. With that blast, Gary won the hearts of Mets fans everywhere. But that moment did not define him.

gary-carter mets

Gary had an infectious smile. He was the media darling, always willing and ready to give an interview or answer a question. Some referred to him in a derogatory way, calling him ‘Camera Carter,’ accusing him of being the ultimate self-promoter. Gary was not that. He was, however, the consummate professional.

During his tenure with the Mets there were plenty of fist raising curtain calls. Even when he struck out, he’d walk back to the dugout, looking down, shaking his head twice, disappointed with himself but most likely already planning how to adjust in his next at-bat. But the curtain calls and raised fists did not define him.

Let’s be honest. That 1986 team were not exactly boy scouts. They were a bunch of brawling, boozing, hell raisers. Gary, however, was a boy scout. Hell, he even did a commercial for Ivory Soap! But yet, in spite of the fact that Gary may not have fit in with the recklessness of Keith, Darling, Ojeda, Knight, and Darryl, he was still loved by the fans and respected by his teammates. (anyone remember Gregg Jefferies?). However, this was not Gary’s defining trait.

A quarter of a century has now passed since that fateful Game 6 but yet we all remember it like it was yesterday. It was our beloved number 8 who started not only the greatest rally in Mets history, but quite possibly the most amazin’ comeback ever in a World Series.

In the top of the 7th, Boston took a 3-2 lead and was threatening for more. Rich Gedman singled through the left side and Jim Rice rounded 3rd. Mookie Wilson fired a rocket to the plate and Carter executed a perfect tag on Rice to keep the Mets within one. Had Carter not made the tag things would be very different. In the 8th, it was Gary’s Sac Fly that tied the game at 3. But these were not his defining moments either.

This, however, did define Gary. When Ray Knight singled, Carter raced home, bringing the Mets to within 1. He stepped on the plate, defiantly pointed at on deck batter Mookie Wilson. As Gary entered the dugout, he high fived several players, took a breather. And what did he do then? He looked around for his catching gear!

The Mets were trailing 5-4, 2 outs bottom of the 10th. But yet, in spite of being behind, Gary was preparing to come out for the 11th inning. The entire 86 season, the entire never-say-die attitude of that 86 club, was captured right then and there. What must Boston have thought when they saw that? That one simple act, something Gary did while not even on the field, not only summed up the Mets attitude that year, but more importantly the eagerness of The Kid. He still wanted to play more baseball.

Mookie Wilson said, “Gary was one of the happiest guys in the world.” “I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound,” stated Doc Gooden. “He was a warrior on the field.” Battery mate Ron Darling said, “Gary was everything you wanted in a sports hero; great talent, great competitor, great family man and a great friend.”

However, it was Gary’s manager, Davey Johnson, who perhaps summed it up best. “I loved him very much.” We all did, Davey. And always will. Gary may have only worn the blue and orange 5 seasons but his memories will last a lifetime.

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Featured Post: My First Championship, My First Car, My Own Personal Evolution http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/featured-post-my-first-championship-my-first-car-my-own-personal-evolution.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/featured-post-my-first-championship-my-first-car-my-own-personal-evolution.html/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2013 14:59:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=107944 Z24 - Copy1986 was a great year. Sure, there was Doc and Darryl, Keith and Kid, Mookie and Mitchell, slow rollers and swagger. But for me, personally, it was also one of the best years of my life.

I turned 21 that November. I was now ‘legal.’ I started my senior year in college, my entire life and all my dreams lay ahead of me. I got to meet and party with the members of Van Halen at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. One month after Jesse tossed his glove to the heavens I met the girl I’d eventually marry.

But 1986 also saw me get my first car. You always remember your first. It was a bad-ass silver Chevy Cavalier RS with black racing stripes. If you wanted to find me on a Saturday that summer, I’d be outside wearing my Mets hat, rock t-shirt and heavy metal spiked leather wristband. I’d be waxing my baby, using Armor-All and Windex, polishing her up—fenders, chrome, tires, windows. I had Van Halen, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Springsteen and a new band called Guns-n-Roses blasting from my tape deck. The neighbors heard me before they’d see me. Yes, 86 was a great year. My future—as well as the future of my Mets—was bright.

1989: It was sadly becoming evident that the Mets dynasty may not materialize the way we hoped. We were still reeling from the shell-shocking loss to the Dodgers in the LCS the previous October. Doc was having drug problems. Keith was battling injuries and played only 75 games that season. Mookie was sent away to Toronto—another country!!! In 50 games, 35 year old Gary Carter hit 183.

van-halen-183 - Copy

That summer my wife and I celebrated our one year anniversary. We had the discussion of ‘starting a family.’ Kids??? Hell, I hadn’t even grown up yet. I figured we should start slow. We bought a puppy instead.

I loved my Cavalier. I took care of it, did the routine maintenance, etc…But really, to this kid in his early 20’s, it was an expensive toy. Racing my friends, speeding and driving recklessly had taken a toll and after 3 years and just 51,000 miles, my car was falling apart. My wife suggested I look into buying a Toyota. She loved their cars. But not me. I was a Chevy man tried and true. Growing up, my dad had no loyalty to any particular auto manufacturer—as long as it was American made. There was no way I’d buy a ‘Rice Rocket’ and listen to my father remind me how his older brother fought in World War II.

And after all, the expression is not “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie…and Toyota?”

My second car, purchased in 1989, was another Cavalier. Sporty, equally bad-ass and blue (as in blue and orange.)

In October of ’94, the unthinkable and unimaginable occurred. For the first time in 90 years, not since Teddy Roosevelt was President, there would be no World Series.

Strike_display_image - Copy

That month I was also in the market for a new car again. My 2nd Cavalier was starting to fall apart. The repair bills were adding up. Now, as anyone who is married or who has ever watched an episode of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ knows, a home is not a home unless the wife is happy.

My better half again tried to convince me to buy a Toyota. This time I appeased her and went through the motions. I looked, I shopped, I test drove one. And then when I felt I ‘did my part of trying,’ I went across the street and purchased another Chevy.

Equally unimaginable to there being no Fall Classic that October was the realization that my 20’s were coming to an end. I was 13 months shy of turning the ripe old age of 30. My bad-ass cool looking sporty car was replaced by a nice, conservative, safe, economical 4 door sedan. Blue (as in blue and orange.) I drove off the lot in a Chevy Corsica.

With my 30’s unavoidable I was at a good place in life. And my Mets were also in a good place. Generation K were poised and ready to dominate the National League. We had Bobby Bonilla, Todd Hundley, promising youngsters named Jeff Kent and Robert Person and proven winner Bret Saberhagen, Yes indeed, the Mets future, like my own, was bright.

2001: By now, Generation K had become a punch line. Bobby Bonilla went on to be one of the most hated Mets in history. Jeff Kent was 3000 miles away in San Francisco and, teamed with Barry Bonds, was part of the most lethal 1-2 punch in the game.

However, the Mets were defending NL Champions.

Sure, we lost the previous Fall Classic to the roided-up Yankees. But things were positive. For the first time in our history we’d been to the post-season 2 straight years. We were led by the best hitting catcher of all-time, local hero John Franco, quiet star Robin Ventura, much loved Benny Agbayani and Timo Perez, lefty Al Leiter, the glove of Rey Ordonez and the hard-working Todd Zeile and Joe McEwing,

As 2001 wound down it became evident the Mets would miss the post-season. On Sunday, September 9, Steve Trachsel took the loss to Florida, 4-2. The Mets dropped to 71-73, 8 games behind Atlanta. Two days later, the unthinkable and unimaginable happened again.

As the nation came to realize we were not invincible, our own safety shattered and we began shooting questioning looks at each other while giving up many of our rights, American patriotism skyrocketed.

With bodies still being pulled from the debris of where the Twin Towers once stood, I was involved in a car accident. My Corsica was totaled. I was back in the market for a new car yet again. My wife made a half-hearted attempt to talk me into a Toyota. No way! If I never wanted to drive a foreign car before, there was no way in hell I’d drive one now.

Most of my friends and family urged me to buy a Japanese car. They all loved their Toyota’s, Honda’s and Nissans. I resisted.

I was in my mid 30’s and was doing well financially. I bought a fully loaded Chevy Impala. It was the most luxurious and most expensive car I ever owned. Huge payment, my first full size. It took me 6 months to learn all the bells and whistles.

Four months later, I found myself sitting at my kitchen table signing divorce papers. After almost 14 years, my wife and I decided we’d grown apart.

During the first ten years of the 21st century, as my 30’s ended and I entered my 40’s, with my future now uncertain, I realized I still could rely on my Mets.

Following the Mets personally is not always easy. The closest city to me that has a major league team is almost 300 miles away. Seeing my Mets live is much more difficult than simply hopping the 7 train to Flushing. It requires driving down to Los Angeles or San Diego. Phoenix, perhaps. It’s a weekend getaway that includes, not just the cost of the ticket and parking, but also gas, food and hotel bills.

Still, I was making good money and had no problem forking over hundreds and hundreds to see my Mets. And for spending money on Wright and Reyes t-shirts and Pedro Martinez jerseys. After all, our future was bright. In addition to David and Jose, we had Delgado, Beltran, Wagner, Shawn Green, fiery Paul Lo Duca, clutch Tom Glavine and promising young studs like Mike Pelfrey and John Maine.

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Then, once again, the fabric of this nation was torn apart. Thirteen years after the impossibility of the World Series being cancelled and six years after 3000 Americans were killed and an entire generation lost its innocence, we found ourselves in the worst financial crisis of our lifetime. We were now witnessing firsthand what we had only heard about from our grandparents.

I, too, found myself unemployed for an extended period of time. Credit card debt went up, savings went down. But still, I could count on the Mets. Granted, Yadier Molina’s HR in Game 7 of the 06 LCS and Beltran taking a called third strike left us all in shock. The following September, the Mets blew a 7 game lead with 17 left and collapsed.

Six month later, March 08, I found myself getting a paycheck again. I was making only 60% of what I had been.

And then, my expensive, fully loaded, luxury car fell apart.

My Impala, though recently paid off, was costing me more in repairs than my car payment had been. After just 6 years and only 71,000 miles, driving slow, less reckless, not having gotten a speeding ticket in almost 20 years, my American-made car was heading for the junkyard. Four new cars, all Chevys, and only one lasted more than 6 years and exceeded 82,000 miles. To say I was pissed and fed-up would be an understatement.

On a Saturday in early April 2008, I got in my car. Thankfully, it started. I drove a few miles, rattling my way down the street. I did slow a bit as I drove by the Chevy dealer. I proceeded on and drove my piece of junk Impala to Toyota. A few hours later, I drove off the lot in brand new Camry. Blue (as in blue and orange.)

Those who know me literally did not believe me until they saw my new car. There was no way—NO WAY—I’d ever not drive a Chevy. And no way in hell I’d lower myself to buying a Japanese car. But here I was.

In a couple of months from now, my Camry will be paid-off. Five years and not a single problem. I love my Toyota. But still, in spite of Chevy leaving a bad taste in my mouth, I still slow down when I pass the Chevy dealership. I glance over, check out the new cars and feel nostalgic. Chevy will always have a special place in my heart.

Baseball is a unique sport. It’s not like Football where you can be a fan of one team…but still root for a different one. The Mets are a lifetime commitment, a love that extends from childhood into old age. Sure, they frustrate me. Sure, they piss me off. Sure, if Sandy Alderson was crossing a dark street late one night and no one was around, I’d debate flooring it. (just kidding) But what am I going to do? Change my allegiance after 40 years? I’m not about to become a Phillies fan where I have a ‘P’ on my head or root for the Blue-Jays and wear…whatever the hell that logo of theirs is.

With the exception of a trip back to New York in the summer of 2011, my first and only time seeing Citi Field and going overboard in the gift shop, I’ve not handed over any money to the Wilpons in 6 years.

So, yes, I’ll continue to root for my Mets, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. But money is tight. Rooting is one thing—financially supporting them is something different. I don’t plan on driving down to LA and forking over several hundred for a weekend to see a sub-par product. (The same logic applies to forking over thousands to Chevrolet, what I personally consider another sub-par product.)

The Mets are 6 weeks away from embarking on the 2013 campaign, a season where we have no hope to compete. The best thing about this upcoming season will be that it gets us one year closer to ‘the future’ that Sandy Alderson keeps talking about.

People change. I loved my Chevy’s and I kind of always will. I love my Mets. And I always will. But people do change. As a fan, one can only get pushed so much. If this person who swore he’d drive nothing but a Chevy until the day I die can now drive a Toyota, anything is possible.

(as a side note, my ex-wife, who swore by Toyota now ironically drives a Chevy)

My approach to this upcoming season will be rather robotic. If they’re on TV, I’ll watch (probably.) But, most likely, I’ll check the standings, glance at the box score. I’ll see what David Wright did, see how Wheeler or Niese or Harvey pitched. I’ll look to see if D’arnaud is living up to the hype. And then, until we start competing, I’ll move on to other things.

My approach to the 2013 Mets will be similar to passing a Chevy dealer. I’ll look, smile, feel a bit nostalgic. And keep going.

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MMO Caption Contest: Win This Original 1986 Mets Score Book In Mint Condition! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/mmo-caption-contest-win-this-original-1986-mets-score-book-in-mint-condition.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/01/mmo-caption-contest-win-this-original-1986-mets-score-book-in-mint-condition.html/#comments Thu, 24 Jan 2013 13:00:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=105644 1986 Mint Condition Scorebook

WIN THIS 1986 METS OFFICIAL PROGRAM!

I can assure you this is a beauty and one of over a dozen I own from that magical season. This one still has the scorecard in it and is in mint condition. I’ll be giving away a few of my other score books in the next few days, but I wanted to kick things off with this prized possession, one of my favorites. It’s my way of saying thanks for making us the best fan site on the web!

Loaded With Special Features:

  • Six Page Feature on Dwight Gooden!
  • Four Page Feature on Keith Hernandez!
  • Ten Page Feature “From Hobie to Gary” by Red Foley!
  • An ad for Mets sportswear that says Get Metsmerized!
  • 25 Years Of Mets: Year By Year – Killer Feature!
  • A full page photo of a bare-chested Ray Knight! (Come on ladies, you know you want to look!)

So here’s all I need you to do…

Submit A Caption For This Photo…

valentine piazza ventura

MMO CAPTION CONTEST!

I think that picture is absolutely hilarious and I crack up every time I see it! It’s perfect for a caption contest!

Come up with what we think is the best caption for that photo and you will win the Original 1986 New York Mets Score Book and Program you see at the top of this post.

You can leave your caption here in the comments, email us at GetMetsmerized@aol.com or tweet them to us at @metsmerized.

I’m looking forward to reading what you come up with. Have some fun and use your imagination… Remember, the best caption wins!

Contest ends tonight at 8:00 PM and then I will announce a winner Friday morning.

Good luck to all of you and as always, thanks for supporting MetsMerizedOnline.com!

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A Funny Look at a Cure For The Mets Bullpen Woes http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/a-funny-look-at-a-cure-for-the-mets-bullpen-woes.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/08/a-funny-look-at-a-cure-for-the-mets-bullpen-woes.html/#comments Wed, 01 Aug 2012 13:00:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=90851 What is the one thing aside from Jason Bay that really gets Mets fans in an uproar?  All the Mets fans are screaming “the bullpen!!!”  Well Mets fans, I have figured out what the Mets have to do to get this bullpen back on its feet.

There is only one player that can save the Mets bullpen and bring us back to the glory and dominance that was experienced in the mid 1980s.  The following quote was cleaned up for our younger audience:

When I was 19 years old, I changed the face of professional baseball. I was handed the keys to the kingdom, multi-million dollar deals, endorsements. Everyone wanted a piece of me. Just a man with a mind for victory and an arm like a cannon. But sometimes when you bring the thunder, you get lost in the storm.

Fans of this player know exactly who I’m talking about.  It’s Kenny Powers.  That’s right, the Mer-Man himself.  He’s exactly what the Mets need coming out of the bullpen to gain back that bad boy image they were notorious for in the mid 80s.

Ask anybody out there, and they’ll tell you that the foundation of a great baseball player starts with an understanding of some basic fundamentals. Running, stretching, physical conditioning. These are the things that prepare your body for the many challenges a baseball player faces. I heard that crap thrown at me all my damn life. You know what Kenny Powers says? Fundamentals are the crutch for the talentless.

Even if the bullpen still stinks, we will be entertained.  I will close this out with another quote from the famous Kenny Powers, and if any one else has any better ideas on how to fix the Mets bullpen woes please share in the comments section below :-)

So, in closing, I’d like to give big ups to God, Buddha, L. Ron, whoever. Hell, maybe I just need to thank me. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all my adventures and conquests, it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great. I just am great. I’m not trying to sound cocky or full of myself, but Kenny Powers has a sneaking suspicion that no matter what comes his way he will always be great. Because that’s just the way stuff works sometimes. This has been based on a true story. The end.

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World Series Game 7: Rangers @ Cardinals, 8:05 pm EST Tonight On FOX. http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/world-series-game-7-rangers-cardinals-805-pm-est-tonight-on-fox.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/world-series-game-7-rangers-cardinals-805-pm-est-tonight-on-fox.html/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 04:44:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=63900

Wow, what a Game 6! Texas continually took advantage of mistakes by the Cardinals to take a lead, but every time they did, St. Louis stormed back to tie the game up. Then David Freese was able to come up big in the 9th inning with one strike left to send the game into extras, allowing Freese then hit a bomb to Center Field, forcing the first World Series Game 7 since the 2002 series between the Angels and Giants.

The Cardinals made some history last night; there have only been two teams in history that have fought back from a deficit in the 8th inning to force a Game 7. These two teams are the ’75 Red Sox and the ’86 Mets. However, no team has ever come back in the 9th inning and then in extras in a World Series. You want to talk about going back and forth? This was also the first time that there were three blown saves in one game of the Fall Classic.

On the flip side, just think about how frustrating it must be for Ron Washington and co. to now have to come back for a Game 7, especially since they were within one strike on two different occasions of clinching the franchise’s fist ever World Series. Now, onto Game 7; Chris Carpenter will go for St. Louis on three days rest to face Matt Harrison on regular rest. Washington stuck by his starter even though they got an extra day off on Wednesday, saying that he was not going to change how he does things now because they’ve gotten this far. However, after going through this entire postseason, I would take Carpenter on short rest instead of any other pitcher on regular rest.

Either way, it’s safe to assume that tonight’s Game 7 will be an epic one; neither team goes down without a fight (as you can see in Game 6) and both of them are hungry to grab a piece of history. The reason that I’m even talking about a Game 7 is because of the crucial line-up change made by Tony LaRussa last night. He decided to put the hot-hitting Lance Berman behind Pujols in the line-up and move the struggling Matt Holliday and got rewarded with a 3-4, 3 RBI, and 4 runs scored performance by his right fielder.

Who ya got tonight? I’m taking the Cardinals because I have from the beginning, and there is not a doubt in my mind that they are a team of destiny. The only way I’ll change my thinking is if the Rangers are actually able to put them away tonight when the game is on the line. For those who have decided that baseball has been over for a while now since your team isn’t in it anymore, tune in tonight, because you’ve missed an amazing series so far.

For all of those who have been watching throughout, soak in this last game and make the feeling last until Valentine’s Day when pitchers and catchers start to report!

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The Making Of ’86 Mets Anthem, “Lets Go, Mets Go” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/07/the-making-of-86-mets-anthem-lets-go-mets-go.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/07/the-making-of-86-mets-anthem-lets-go-mets-go.html/#comments Sun, 03 Jul 2011 04:43:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=53490 Lauren of snagflims.com, a site that streams over 2,100 free films, has a new video which features the back story behind the 1986 Mets anthem, “Lets Go, Mets Go”.

She says, “ I would like to bring your attention to a great film called Let’s Go Mets, which documents the Mets team of the 80s, especially the 86 World Series winning team. ”

Here is a preview clip:

Watch more free documentaries

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