Mets Merized Online » Mookie Wilson http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Feb 2015 01:16:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 October 25, 1986: Little Roller Up Along First… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/october-25-1986-little-roller-up-along-first.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/october-25-1986-little-roller-up-along-first.html/#comments Sat, 25 Oct 2014 05:19:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168653 apollo 11

Every generation has its defining moment. People who grew up in the 1960s know exactly where they were when President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated. In the 1980s, every American knows where they were when the Space Shuttle exploded. It’s no different for Mets fans.

People who grew up rooting for the Mets remember every detail of the 1969 Miracle Mets’ run to the World Series. Fans of my generation well up with happy tears when you mention two words to them: Game 6. How can anyone forget the night of October 25, 1986?

The Mets were facing elimination entering Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. They fought back to tie the Series at Fenway Park after dropping the first two games of the Series at Shea Stadium. Then Bruce Hurst shut them down in Game 5 to send the series back to New York with the Mets down three games to two.

It was up to Bob Ojeda to save the Mets’ season. He was opposed by Roger Clemens, who was later given the 1986 AL Cy Young Award. Ojeda was also called upon for Game 6 of that year’s NLCS against the Astros, a game in which the Mets defeated Houston in 16 innings to claim the National League pennant. In that game, Ojeda struggled early, giving up three runs in the first inning before settling down. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was no different for Ojeda. He gave up single runs to the Red Sox in each of the first two innings, but then settled down.

When Ojeda was replaced by Roger McDowell to start the seventh inning, the Mets had come back against Roger Clemens to tie the score at 2. Although the drama that unfolded in the tenth inning is what Game 6 is most known for, a number of interesting events occurred in the seventh inning that are often forgotten.

With one out and Marty Barrett on first base for the Red Sox, Jim Rice hit a ground ball near the third base line that barely stayed fair. Ray Knight fielded it and threw wildly to first base, with the ball popping in and out of the glove of a leaping Keith Hernandez. That brought up Dwight Evans with runners on the corners. Evans hit a ground ball for the second out of the inning, but Barrett scored the go-ahead run and Rice was able to advance to second base. That was when Mookie Wilson became a hero for the first time that night.

Roger McDowell was able to get ahead of Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman by throwing strikes on the first two pitches, but Gedman then grounded the 0-2 pitch from McDowell between short and third for a base hit that appeared to give the Red Sox an insurance run. However, Mookie Wilson charged the ball and fired a strike to Gary Carter at home plate to cut down a sliding Jim Rice for the third out of the inning.

1986-ws-gary-carter-jim-rice

The defensive efforts of Wilson and Carter helped keep the Red Sox lead at one, a lead that would be erased when the Mets came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Roger Clemens had been pinch hit for in the top of the eighth inning, so the Red Sox brought in former Met Calvin Schiraldi to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning. Schiraldi had been brilliant in relief for the Red Sox during the regular season, compiling a 4-2 record and a sparking 1.41 ERA. However, all that changed once Lee Mazzilli led off the inning with a base hit. Lenny Dykstra followed with a sacrifice bunt, but he reached first base safely when Schiraldi threw wildly to second base in a failed attempt to nail Lee Mazzilli. Now the Mets had two men on with nobody out for Wally Backman, who laid down a bunt of his own. His successful sacrifice moved Mazzilli and Dykstra into scoring position for Keith Hernandez, who was intentionally walked to load the bases. That brought up Gary Carter. On a 3-0 pitch, Carter had the green light and lined a sacrifice fly to left field. The fly ball allowed Lee Mazzilli to score the tying run. When neither team scored in the ninth inning, the stage was set for the most dramatic inning in Mets history.

The inning started with a bang, but not the one wanted by Mets fans. Dave Henderson led off the inning with a laser beam down the left field line that just stayed fair as it cleared the wall. The home run off Rick Aguilera silenced the Shea Stadium crowd of 55,078 and gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead. They weren’t done yet. Aguilera came back to strike out the next two batters but then proceeded to give up a double to Wade Boggs and a run-scoring single to Marty Barrett. The latter hit gave the Sox an insurance run as the lead was now 5-3. The next batter was hit by a pitch. Who was the victim of Aguilera’s wayward offering? None other than Bill Buckner (more on him later). Now there were two men on base for Jim Rice. Rice could have redeemed himself for being thrown out at home in the seventh inning with a hit in the tenth. However, Rice failed to add to the Red Sox lead when he flied out to Lee Mazzilli in right. His failure to come through in two crucial spots set up the events in the bottom of the tenth inning for the Mets.

gary carter 1986 ws hit

Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez were due to lead off in the bottom of the tenth inning. However, two fly balls later and the Mets were down to their final out with no one on base. The dream was one out away from becoming a nightmare. 108 regular season wins and a thrilling NLCS against the Astros would mean nothing if the Mets couldn’t start a rally against Calvin Schiraldi and the Red Sox. The Shea Stadium scoreboard was flashing “Congratulations Red Sox: 1986 World Champions” and NBC had already awarded its player of the game to Marty Barrett. Then Gary Carter stepped up to the plate and something special began to happen.

On a 2-1 pitch from Schiraldi, Carter singled to left. Then Kevin Mitchell, pinch-hitting for Rick Aguilera lined a hit to center on an 0-1 curveball. The tying runs were now on base for Ray Knight. If you recall, Knight had made an error in the seventh inning that led to a run for the Red Sox. Perhaps this game would never have gone into extra innings had Knight not committed his error. Knight didn’t care. All he cared about was getting a hit to continue the inning. Unfortunately for him, Schiraldi threw his first two pitches for strikes. The Mets were down to their final strike, but Ray Knight had something to say about that.

On a pitch that was headed for the inside corner of the strike zone, Knight fisted it over Marty Barrett’s head into short center for another base hit. Carter scored from second base and Mitchell went from first to third on the hit. The tying run was 90 feet away and the winning run was at first base. Red Sox manager John McNamara had made up his mind. He was going to Bob Stanley to try to win the World Series. Stanley would face one batter, Mookie Wilson, with everything on the line.

Stanley would throw six pitches to Mookie Wilson to get the count to 2-2. Hoping for strike three with his seventh pitch, Stanley let go of the pitch and at the same time, let go of the lead. The pitch was way inside, causing Mookie to throw himself up in the air to avoid getting hit. Fortunately, the ball didn’t hit Mookie or Rich Gedman’s glove (or home plate umpire Dale Ford for that matter). The ball went all the way to the backstop and Kevin Mitchell was able to scamper home with the tying run. The wild pitch also allowed Ray Knight to move into scoring position with the potential winning run. All Mookie needed to do now was get a base hit to drive him in, or perhaps he could so something else to bring him home.

During the regular season, John McNamara had always removed first baseman Bill Buckner for defensive replacement Dave Stapleton during the late innings. However, this time Buckner was left in the game despite the fact that he was hobbling around on two gimpy legs and had just been hit by a pitch in the previous inning. What was McNamara’s reasoning for the decision? He wanted Buckner to be on the field to celebrate their championship with his teammates. Instead, Buckner was on the field during a different kind of celebration.

Buckner was at first base as the count went to 3-2 on Mookie Wilson. A mountain of pressure had been lifted off his shoulders once he went airborne to elude Stanley’s pitch. A relaxed Mookie came back to the plate to finish what he came up there to do. After fouling off two more pitches, including a line drive that curved foul down the left field line, Wilson hit a little roller up along first, bringing Mets fans to their feet as Bill Buckner hobbled to the line in an attempt to field it. I’ll let NBC broadcaster Vin Scully describe what happened.

“Little roller up along first. Behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”

A miracle had happened on the diamond. Perhaps Mookie’s grounder hit a pebble. Perhaps Buckner took his eyes off the ball as he watched Mookie sprint down the first base line. Perhaps God was a Mets fan. Regardless of what caused it to happen, Mookie’s grounder found its way under Buckner’s glove and the Mets lived to see another day.

bill-buckner

As a dejected Bill Buckner walked off the field, Shea Stadium was rocking as it never had before. Mookie Wilson was still running towards second base because he had no idea that Ray Knight had scored the winning run. Ron Darling, who was scheduled to start the seventh and deciding game of the World Series the following night (even though it was rained out and played two nights later), admitted that he could see dust falling from the roof of the Mets dugout because of the vibrations caused by the fans jumping up and down over it. Keith Hernandez had left the dugout to go into Davey Johnson’s office after making the second out of the inning, but never moved from the chair he was sitting in, even after the historic rally had begun because as he admitted afterwards, the chair he was sitting in had hits in it.

As the unbelievable events were flashing on the TV screen for those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to have tickets to the game, Vin Scully came back on the air after a long pause to tell the viewers everything they needed to know about what they had just seen unfold at Shea Stadium on that Saturday night. The Hall-of-Fame broadcaster said:

“If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words. But more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets are not only alive, they are well and they will play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow.”

Game 6 didn’t give the Mets the World Championship as many baseball fans mistakenly believe. There was still one game left to play. Although it was scheduled for the following night, rain put a hold on Game 7 until the night of Monday, October 27. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, who had been scheduled to start the seventh game for the Red Sox, was scratched from his start to allow Met killer Bruce Hurst to pitch. But I’ll leave that blog for another night.

ray knight

For now, think of the memories you have of that unbelievable Game 6. Imagine how different things would have been if Jim Rice had not been thrown out at home plate in the seventh inning, or if Bob Stanley had relieved Calvin Schiraldi before Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell or Ray Knight produced base hits in the tenth inning. Mets fans who celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Miracle Mets this season might still be talking about that team as their only championship team.

A miracle happened at Shea Stadium 28 years ago today, on October 25, 1986. It is the single greatest Mets memory I have. I’m sure for many of you reading this, it’s your favorite Mets memory as well. Do Mets fans believe in miracles? If you watched Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the answer is a definite yes.

The rest, as they say, is a matter of history…

1986 mets win

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Around the Diamond: Center Field http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/around-the-diamond-center-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/around-the-diamond-center-field.html/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 19:19:43 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137617 mookie wilson

In the Mets’ 52 seasons, there have been 26 different Center Fielders who could be classified as the “primary” player in any given season.

As we continue this series, who were the ten Mets who have played the most games at each position, we now look at center field. (seasons as the primary in parenthesis)

10. Don Hahn (1973-74) – 268 games in Center (188 starts). In 1974, Don hit .251 with 4 HR and 28 RBI.

9. Cleon Jones (1966-67) – 268 games in Center (235 starts). Cleon played more games in Left Field than any other Met, but he also made the list in Center. In 1966, he hit .275 with 8 HR and 57 RBI.

8. Jim Hickman (1962-64) – 268 games in Center (246 starts). In 1963, Jim hit .29 with 17 HR and 51 RBI.

7. Angel Pagan (2010-11) – 278 games in Center (268 starts). In 2010, he hit .290 with 11 HR, 69 RBI, and 37 stolen bases.

6. Brian McRae (1998-99) – 282 games in Center (257 starts). In 1998, he hit .264 with 21 HR, 79 RBI, and 20 stolen bases.

5. Lenny Dykstra (1986-88) – 493 games in Center (392 starts). In 1986, he hit .295 with 8 HR, 45 RBI, and 31 stolen bases.

4. Lee Mazzilli (1977-79) – 572 games in Center (547 starts). In 1979, he hit .303 with 15 HR, 79 RBI, and 34 stolen bases.

3. Tommie Agee (1968-72) – 591 games in Center (544 starts). In 1969, he hit .271 with 26 HR and 76 RBI.

2. Carlos Beltran (2005-09) – 723 games in Center (719 starts). In 2006, he hit .275 with 41 HR and 116 RBI.

1. Mookie Wilson (1981-85) – 907 games in Center (816 starts). In 1982, he hit .279 with 5 HR, 55 RBI, and 58 stolen bases. And then there was that little ROLLER up along first….

Presented By Diehards

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The Top 10 Mets Offensive Seasons Since 1980 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-top-10-mets-offensive-seasons-since-1980.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-top-10-mets-offensive-seasons-since-1980.html/#comments Thu, 28 Nov 2013 05:19:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133664 piazza

It’s hard to believe that we’re only a few seasons removed from some of the best offensive seasons in Mets history (hard to argue they haven’t been offensive lately, just in a different sense).

So what are the 10 best Mets seasons in terms of offensive production over the last 34 seasons? (I’m using 1980 because I’ve been following the team since the 80s)

Runs Scored Per Game

1.  1999 – 853 scored – 5.23

2.  2006 – 834 scored – 5.15

3.  1987 – 823 scored – 5.08

4.  2000 – 807 scored – 4.98

5.  2007 – 804 scored – 4.96

6.  2008 – 799 scored – 4.93

7.  1986 – 783 scored – 4.83

8.  1997 – 777 scored – 4.80

9.  1990 – 775 scored  – 4.72

10. 1996 – 746 scored – 4.60

We can see that from 2006-2008, the Mets produced some of their best offensive clubs since the 80s.  Yes, they collapsed in 2007 and 2008, but they had some of their best run producing seasons those three years.  From 1996-2000, we saw 4 of the top 10 best offensive seasons (with the exception of 1998, which did not make the list).  1986-1987 also produced another two top 10 seasons.   The only season that isn’t clumped together was 1990 – which was at the tail end of their dominance and followed the 1988 and 1989 seasons which included some of their top pitching clubs.

So who made up these typical lineups during these seasons of offensive plenty?

2006-2008

C – Paul Lo Duca / Brian Schneider

1B – Carlos Delgado

2B – Jose Valentin / Luis Castillo

SS – Jose Reyes

3B – David Wright

OF – Cliff Floyd / Moises Alou / Fernando Tatis

OF – Carlos Beltran

OF – Xavier Nady / Shawn Green / Ryan Church

Where was there continuity over those three seasons?  Carlos Delgado, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Carlos Beltran.  Four pretty good names.

1996*-1997

C – Todd Hundley

1B – Butch Huskey / John Olerud

2B – Jose Vizcaino / Carlos Baerga

SS – Rey Ordonez

3B – Jeff Kent / Edgardo Alfonzo

OF – Bernard Gilkey

OF – Lance Johnson

OF – Alex Ochoa / Butch Huskey

Edgardo Alfonzo made 85 starts in 1996 at 2B/3B/SS

1999-2000

C – Mike Piazza

1B – John Olerud / Todd Zeile

2B – Edgardo Alfonzo

SS – Rey Ordonez / Mike Bordick

3B – Robin Ventura

OF – Rickey Henderson / Benny Agbayani

OF – Brian McRae / Jay Payton

OF – Roger Cedeno / Derek Bell

1986-1987*

C – Gary Carter

1B – Keith Hernandez

2B – Wally Backman

SS – Rafael Santana

3B – Ray Knight / Howard Johnson

OF – Mookie Wilson / Kevin McReynolds

OF – Lenny Dykstra

OF – Darryl Strawberry

Tim Teufel made 70 starts in 1986 and 72 starts in 1987 as part of a platoon with Backman, Mookie Wilson made 76 starts in 1987

1990

C – Mackey Sasser

1B – Dave Magadan

2B – Gregg Jefferies

SS – Kevin Elster

3B – Howard Johnson

OF – Kevin McReynolds

OF – Daryl Boston

OF – Darryl Strawberry

edgardo alfonzo

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Speed Kills: The Stolen Base Gets No Respect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/speed-kills-the-stolen-base-gets-no-respect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/speed-kills-the-stolen-base-gets-no-respect.html/#comments Sun, 24 Nov 2013 13:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133585 strat-o-matic-047f286ce1214543I grew up playing Strat-O-Matic in the 1980s and made two observations about the game of baseball before I was ten years old. One observation I made was embraced in baseball. The other was scorned. The first was the importance of on-base percentage. The other was the stolen base.

I came to the same Moneyball observation that a walk was as good as a single. It may not look as pretty, but it got you on base.

The other observation is that stolen bases score runs.

In the Moneyball era, outs are sacred. They are a finite resource. The aim is to keep the lineup moving and not surrender your outs. With that mindset, why would you risk getting thrown out at second base on an attempted steal? Better to just keep the lineup moving, right?

Wrong.

As an offense, the objective is to score runs, not to horde your outs. Standing put while on first base, moving station to station or to wait for the home run doesn’t always work. While standing on first base, without a home run, you’ll likely need two at-bats to score that runner from first base.

Chris Davis, who hit 53 Home Runs in 2013, only hit one out in 7.8% of his plate appearances.

The OBP in MLB in 2013 was .317. The batting average in MLB in 2013 was .253. The average MLB team hit 155 HR in 2013.

There was only (on average) a 2.6% chance to get that stationary runner in from first base via a Home Run. To get that stationary runner in from first via a double or triple (the average MLB team had 274 doubles and 26 triples in 2013) was less than 5.0% (as not every double will score a runner from first). If the objective of the offense is to score and if you have less than a 7.6% chance of scoring that runner from first base by staying stationary, why wouldn’t a manager run at will? There’s a reason why a runner at second base is called being in scoring position.

Let’s play the stationary game. With only having a 7.6% chance of scoring a stationary runner from first base, there’s a 92.4% chance that you’ll need more than one batter to get that runner home. A walk or hit to advance that runner to second (31.7% chance) plus a base hit to get that runner in once that stationary batter is moved to second base (25.3% chance) gives you approximately an 8.0% chance of getting that runner in from first base with more than one batter. Add it up and you have approximately a 15.6% chance of getting that runner home from first base by playing station to station ball.

jeansegura_042013_blogcutWhen you get that runner into scoring position via a stolen base, you dramatically raise the odds. It is worth trading a potential out on an attempted steal. And the numbers are consistent.

Let’s look at some past Mets teams to see how stolen bases translated into runs – the numbers are consistent, on good teams and bad.

The 1982 Mets had three players that stole 15 or more bases (Mookie Wilson, Bob Bailor, John Stearns). These three players had a combined 95 stolen bases and were caught 26 times (79% success rate). 42 runs were scored after one of these players stole a base. In other words, one of these three men score 35% of the time when they attempted to steal. When they were successful, they scored 44% of the time.

The 1983 Mets had four players that stole 15 or more bases (Mookie Wilson, Darryl Strawberry, Bob Bailor, Brian Giles). These four players had a combined 108 stolen bases and were caught 35 times (76% success rate). A run was scored 33% of the time a stolen base was attempted. A run was scored 44% of the time they were successful.

The 1986 Mets had three players that stole 15 or more bases (Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson). These three combined for 84 steals and were caught 26 times (76% rate). They scored 32% of the time when an attempt was made, 42% when successful.

The 1988 Mets had five players with 15 or more swipes (Lenny Dykstra, Darryl Strawberry, Howard Johnson, Kevin McReynolds, Mookie Wilson). These five combined for 118 stolen bases and were caught 33 times (78% rate). They scored 27% of the time an attempt was made and 35% when successful.

Now let’s look at the 2013 version of the Mets. There were three players with 15 or more steals (Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, David Wright). These three combined for 78 stolen bases and were caught 13 times (86% rate). These three scored 31% of the time when an attempt was made and 36% of the time when successful.

These numbers are fairly consistent. When you have speed in your lineup and actually use it increases, your odds of scoring increases. Add speed to your lineup and you’ll score. Add speed to the lineup and have someone in your lineup that can hit, you’ll get runners in from second base consistently.

Let’s look at the Mets top 15 stolen base seasons:

  1. Jose Reyes – 2007. 78 stolen bases with a 79% success rate. Scored a run 33% of the time an attempt was made and 42% when he was successful. (Note – when the Mets collapsed down the stretch, Reyes had 11 base hits and not a single stolen base)
  2. Roger Cedeno – 1999. 66 stolen bases with an 80% success rate. Scored a run 46% of the time an attempt was made and 58% after a successful steal (which illustrates how dangerous a base stealer is when there’s a solid lineup).
  3. Jose Reyes – 20006. 64 stolen bases with a 79% success rates. Scored a run 31% of the time when attempting a steal and 39% when successful.
  4. Jose Reyes – 2005. 60 stolen bases – success rate 80%. Scored on 39% of attempts and 48% of the time when successful.
  5. Mookie Wilson – 1982. 58 stolen bases – 78% success rate. Scored on 38% of attempts and 48% when successful.
  6. Jose Reyes – 2008. 56 stolen bases – success rate 79%. Scored on 38% of attempts and 48% of successful steals.
  7. Mookie Wilson – 1983. 54 stolen bases – success rate 77%. Scored on 37% of attempts and 48% of successful steals.
  8. Lance Johnson – 1996. 50 stolen bases – 81% success rate. Scored on 29% of attempts and 36% of successful steals.
  9. Mookie Wilson – 1984. 46 stolen bases – 84% success rate. Scored on 35% of attempts and 41% of successful steals.
  10. Frank Taveras – 1979. 42 stolen bases – 69% success rate. Scored on 26% of attempts and 38% when successful.
  11. Howard Johnson – 1989. 41 stolen bases – 84% success rate. Scored on 27% of attempts and 32% when successful.
  12. Lee Mazzilli – 1980. 41 stolen bases – 73% success rate. Scored on 30% of attempts and 41% when successful.
  13. Jose Reyes – 2011. 39 stolen bases – 85% success rate. Scored on 41% of attempts and 49% when successful.
  14. Eric Young, Jr – 2013. 38 stolen bases (with Mets) – 84% success rate. Scored on 33% of attempts and 39% when successful.
  15. Vince Coleman – 1993. 38 stolen bases – 75% success rate. Scored on 35% of attempts and 47% when successful.

When we look at the top 15 stolen base seasons, Frank Taveras had the lowest success in scoring a run, only 26% of the time when he attempted a steal, which was the result of being thrown out 31% of the time while attempting to steal. Even with this, when he tried to run in 1979, he’d end up crossing the plate 38% of the time – significantly higher than playing station to station.

Howard Johnson only crossed home plate on 32% of successful steals in 1989 and Lance Johnson only 36% of his successful steals in 1996, rates that are still significantly higher than playing station to station ball.

When you put speed in your lineup and use it, that rate at which those speedsters will score is predictable. Get a lot of speed in your lineup (like the 1985 Cardinals that had 5 players with over 30 stolen bases) you have a lineup that is deadly and scores at will. The 1985 Cardinals led the league in runs and scored 41 more than the next highest scoring team (0.25 runs per game) while hitting only 87 Home Runs (11th in the league).

Speed Kills. Moneyball just hasn’t figured it out yet.

jackie-robinson-1955

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Do You Believe In Miracles? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/do-you-believe-in-miracles.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/do-you-believe-in-miracles.html/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 12:09:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131742 Here’s another great article originally written and posted back on October 25, 2009 by the always entertaining Ed Leyro. Ed has a great storytelling style and this particular MMO Flashback will appeal to most any Mets fan on the 27th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in franchise history. 

Every generation has its defining moment.  People who grew up in the 1960s know exactly where they were when President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated.  In the 1980s, every American knows where they were when the Space Shuttle exploded.  It’s no different for Mets fans.

People who grew up rooting for the Mets remember every detail of the 1969 Miracle Mets’ run to the World Series.  Fans of my generation well up with happy tears when you mention two words to them:  Game 6.  How can anyone forget the night of October 25, 1986?

The Mets were facing elimination entering Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  They fought back to tie the Series at Fenway Park after dropping the first two games of the Series at Shea Stadium.  Then Bruce Hurst shut them down in Game 5 to send the series back to New York with the Mets down three games to two.

It was up to Bob Ojeda to save the Mets’ season.  He was opposed by Roger Clemens, who was later given the 1986 AL Cy Young Award.  Ojeda was also called upon for Game 6 of that year’s NLCS against the Astros, a game in which the Mets defeated Houston in 16 innings to claim the National League pennant.  In that game, Ojeda struggled early, giving up three runs in the first inning before settling down.  Game 6 of the 1986 World Series was no different for Ojeda.  He gave up single runs to the Red Sox in each of the first two innings, but then settled down.

When Ojeda was replaced by Roger McDowell to start the seventh inning, the Mets had come back against Roger Clemens to tie the score at 2.  Although the drama that unfolded in the tenth inning is what Game 6 is most known for, a number of interesting events occurred in the seventh inning that are often forgotten.

With one out and Marty Barrett on first base for the Red Sox, Jim Rice hit a ground ball near the third base line that barely stayed fair.  Ray Knight fielded it and threw wildly to first base, with the ball popping in and out of the glove of a leaping Keith Hernandez.  That brought up Dwight Evans with runners on the corners.  Evans hit a ground ball for the second out of the inning, but Barrett scored the go-ahead run and Rice was able to advance to second base.  That was when Mookie Wilson became a hero for the first time that night.

Roger McDowell was able to get ahead of Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman by throwing strikes on the first two pitches, but Gedman then grounded the 0-2 pitch from McDowell between short and third for a base hit that appeared to give the Red Sox an insurance run.  However, Mookie Wilson charged the ball and fired a strike to Gary Carter at home plate to cut down a sliding Jim Rice for the third out of the inning.

1986-ws-gary-carter-jim-rice

The defensive efforts of Wilson and Carter helped keep the Red Sox lead at one, a lead that would be erased when the Mets came up to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Roger Clemens had been pinch hit for in the top of the eighth inning, so the Red Sox brought in former Met Calvin Schiraldi to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning.  Schiraldi had been brilliant in relief for the Red Sox during the regular season, compiling a 4-2 record and a sparking 1.41 ERA.  However, all that changed once Lee Mazzilli led off the inning with a base hit.  Lenny Dykstra followed with a sacrifice bunt, but he reached first base safely when Schiraldi threw wildly to second base in a failed attempt to nail Lee Mazzilli.  Now the Mets had two men on with nobody out for Wally Backman, who laid down a bunt of his own.  His successful sacrifice moved Mazzilli and Dykstra into scoring position for Keith Hernandez, who was intentionally walked to load the bases.  That brought up Gary Carter.  On a 3-0 pitch, Carter had the green light and lined a sacrifice fly to left field.  The fly ball allowed Lee Mazzilli to score the tying run.  When neither team scored in the ninth inning, the stage was set for the most dramatic inning in Mets history.

The inning started with a bang, but not the one wanted by Mets fans.  Dave Henderson led off the inning with a laser beam down the left field line that just stayed fair as it cleared the wall.  The home run off Rick Aguilera silenced the Shea Stadium crowd of 55,078 and gave the Red Sox a 4-3 lead.  They weren’t done yet.  Aguilera came back to strike out the next two batters but then proceeded to give up a double to Wade Boggs and a run-scoring single to Marty Barrett.  The latter hit gave the Sox an insurance run as the lead was now 5-3.  The next batter was hit by a pitch.  Who was the victim of Aguilera’s wayward offering?  None other than Bill Buckner (more on him later).  Now there were two men on base for Jim Rice.  Rice could have redeemed himself for being thrown out at home in the seventh inning with a hit in the tenth.  However, Rice failed to add to the Red Sox lead when he flied out to Lee Mazzilli in right.  His failure to come through in two crucial spots set up the events in the bottom of the tenth inning for the Mets.

gary carter 1986 ws hit

Wally Backman and Keith Hernandez were due to lead off in the bottom of the tenth inning.  However, two fly balls later and the Mets were down to their final out with no one on base.  The dream was one out away from becoming a nightmare.  108 regular season wins and a thrilling NLCS against the Astros would mean nothing if the Mets couldn’t start a rally against Calvin Schiraldi and the Red Sox.  The Shea Stadium scoreboard was flashing “Congratulations Red Sox: 1986 World Champions” and NBC had already awarded its player of the game to Marty Barrett.  Then Gary Carter stepped up to the plate and something special began to happen.

On a 2-1 pitch from Schiraldi, Carter singled to left.  Then Kevin Mitchell, pinch-hitting for Rick Aguilera lined a hit to center on an 0-1 curveball.  The tying runs were now on base for Ray Knight.  If you recall, Knight had made an error in the seventh inning that led to a run for the Red Sox.  Perhaps this game would never have gone into extra innings had Knight not committed his error.  Knight didn’t care.  All he cared about was getting a hit to continue the inning.  Unfortunately for him, Schiraldi threw his first two pitches for strikes.  The Mets were down to their final strike, but Ray Knight had something to say about that.

On a pitch that was headed for the inside corner of the strike zone, Knight fisted it over Marty Barrett’s head into short center for another base hit.  Carter scored from second base and Mitchell went from first to third on the hit.  The tying run was 90 feet away and the winning run was at first base.  Red Sox manager John McNamara had made up his mind.  He was going to Bob Stanley to try to win the World Series.  Stanley would face one batter, Mookie Wilson, with everything on the line.

Stanley would throw six pitches to Mookie Wilson to get the count to 2-2.  Hoping for strike three with his seventh pitch, Stanley let go of the pitch and at the same time, let go of the lead.  The pitch was way inside, causing Mookie to throw himself up in the air to avoid getting hit.  Fortunately, the ball didn’t hit Mookie or Rich Gedman’s glove (or home plate umpire Dale Ford for that matter).  The ball went all the way to the backstop and Kevin Mitchell was able to scamper home with the tying run.  The wild pitch also allowed Ray Knight to move into scoring position with the potential winning run.  All Mookie needed to do now was get a base hit to drive him in, or perhaps he could so something else to bring him home.

During the regular season, John McNamara had always removed first baseman Bill Buckner for defensive replacement Dave Stapleton during the late innings.  However, this time Buckner was left in the game despite the fact that he was hobbling around on two gimpy legs and had just been hit by a pitch in the previous inning.  What was McNamara’s reasoning for the decision?  He wanted Buckner to be on the field to celebrate their championship with his teammates.  Instead, Buckner was on the field during a different kind of celebration.

Buckner was at first base as the count went to 3-2 on Mookie Wilson.  A mountain of pressure had been lifted off his shoulders once he went airborne to elude Stanley’s pitch.  A relaxed Mookie came back to the plate to finish what he came up there to do.  After fouling off two more pitches, including a line drive that curved foul down the left field line, Wilson hit a little roller up along first, bringing Mets fans to their feet as Bill Buckner hobbled to the line in an attempt to field it.  I’ll let NBC broadcaster Vin Scully describe what happened.

“Little roller up along first.  Behind the bag!  It gets through Buckner!  Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”

A miracle had happened on the diamond.  Perhaps Mookie’s grounder hit a pebble.  Perhaps Buckner took his eyes off the ball as he watched Mookie sprint down the first base line.  Perhaps God was a Mets fan.  Regardless of what caused it to happen, Mookie’s grounder found its way under Buckner’s glove and the Mets lived to see another day.

bill-buckner

As a dejected Bill Buckner walked off the field, Shea Stadium was rocking as it never had before.  Mookie Wilson was still running towards second base because he had no idea that Ray Knight had scored the winning run.  Ron Darling, who was scheduled to start the seventh and deciding game of the World Series the following night (even though it was rained out and played two nights later), admitted that he could see dust falling from the roof of the Mets dugout because of the vibrations caused by the fans jumping up and down over it.  Keith Hernandez had left the dugout to go into Davey Johnson’s office after making the second out of the inning, but never moved from the chair he was sitting in, even after the historic rally had begun because as he admitted afterwards, the chair he was sitting in had hits in it.

As the unbelievable events were flashing on the TV screen for those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to have tickets to the game, Vin Scully came back on the air after a long pause to tell the viewers everything they needed to know about what they had just seen unfold at Shea Stadium on that Saturday night.  The Hall-of-Fame broadcaster said:

“If one picture is worth a thousand words, you have seen about a million words.  But more than that, you have seen an absolutely bizarre finish to Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  The Mets are not only alive, they are well and they will play the Red Sox in Game 7 tomorrow.”

Game 6 didn’t give the Mets the World Championship as many baseball fans mistakenly believe.  There was still one game left to play.  Although it was scheduled for the following night, rain put a hold on Game 7 until the night of Monday, October 27.  Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, who had been scheduled to start the seventh game for the Red Sox, was scratched from his start to allow Met killer Bruce Hurst to pitch.  But I’ll leave that blog for another night.

ray knight

For now, think of the memories you have of that unbelievable Game 6.  Imagine how different things would have been if Jim Rice had not been thrown out at home plate in the seventh inning, or if Bob Stanley had relieved Calvin Schiraldi before Gary Carter, Kevin Mitchell or Ray Knight produced base hits in the tenth inning.  Mets fans who celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Miracle Mets this season might still be talking about that team as their only championship team.

A miracle happened at Shea Stadium 23 years ago today, on October 25, 1986.  It is the single greatest Mets memory I have.  I’m sure for many of you reading this, it’s your favorite Mets memory as well.  Do Mets fans believe in miracles?  If you watched Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the answer is a definite yes.

The rest, as they say, is a matter of history…

1986 mets win

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The Magic Is Back… Again… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/the-magic-is-back-again.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/the-magic-is-back-again.html/#comments Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:57 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130366 Darryl Strawberry (L) with Mets General Manager Frank Cashen.

The Magic is Back! That was the Mets promotional slogan in the spring of 1980 after Nelson Doubleday Jr. and Fred Wilpon had purchased New York’s National League franchise. From a business standpoint, the new Met owners bought in at a perfect time. The Mets were in shambles, last place finishers in three consecutive seasons prior to the purchase.

Acting on the advice of several baseball people from outside the organization, the first decision the new owners made was to hire Frank Cashen as their team’s new GM. When the Mets came calling, Cashen, who had earned wide acclaim overseeing baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles from the late 60’s through the mid 1970’s, was working for baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn as the administrator of Major League Baseball operations.

Billboards all over NYC proclaimed the ‘Magic Was Back’ off the field, but, as the chart below proves, there was little on-the field magic on the field during Cashen’s first few seasons heading the Mets.

stats

No, for Met fans the early Cashen years brought little baseball magic to Shea. Expecting bold moves to improve the baseball product, Met fans were left scratching their heads when Cashen originally sidestepped the trade route in starting his Met rebuild. In June, June of 1980, Cashen made his first noteworthy move, a risky move at that, projecting help sometime down the road by signing a raw and talented high school prodigy named Darryl Strawberry. During the same off-season, Cashen signed Doug Sisk and Kevin Mitchell as amateur free agents.

The cautious bow-tied GM, spent much of his early effort working to retool the Met minor league player development system. His evaluation of where the Mets where and where he hoped to take them, crawled into the 1981 season where his only substantial moves came from within, the elevation of Hubie Brooks and Mookie Wilson to the big team in Flushing.

george foster

Cashen quietly continued to utilize the draft as a major tool in plotting improvement signing Lenny Dykstra in the 13th round of the 1981 draft. 1981 was the first time Cashen put his big toe in the player trading market bringing in fan-favorite Dave Kingman for a second round with the team as a slugging bat in the line-up.

It was in 1982 when Cashen made two moves that created a collective stir in Metsland. With one bold strike, a move than never panned out quite like Met fans hoped, but an important symbolic maneuver that signaled to the fan base the Mets were serious about their rebuilding efforts, Cashen traded for and signed Cincinnati Red slugger George Foster to play for the Mets.

After buoying the hopes of Met fans, Cashen became the target of ire two weeks later when he shipped Met fan favorite Lee Mazzilli our of town for two pitchers, Ron Darling and Walt Terrell. Darling would later become a mainstay of the Met staff, an All-Star and critical piece in their World Series Championship run. Terrell won 20 games and lost 21
in his last two seasons as a Met and was an innings eater who pitched 215 innings in their turnaround season in 84. More importantly, Cashen traded Terrell for Howard Johnson in the off-season following the 1984 campaign.

With his eye always focused on young talent, Cashen continued to scour the baseball landscape looking for talent through the draft. In June of 1982 he signed future ace pitcher Dwight Gooden as a first round pick and Roger McDowell in the third round.

Sid Fernandez  winds back to pitchCashen continued his reconstruction project in 1983 signing Rick Aguilera in the third round of the draft. Even though the Mets failed to top a .420 winning percentage for the seventh consecutive year, Cashen’s trades for Keith Hernandez from the Cardinals and Sid Fernandez from the Dodgers added the fine china to the table Cashen had meticulously been setting in his early years as GM for the Mets.

Once the Mets turned their win/loss record upside down in 1984, fans flocked back to Shea, and Cashen’s GM decisions shifted. The Met GM was no longer table setting for future success but cherry picking and looking for main course dinner entrees to take the Mets over the top. Enter Gary Carter.

With the 2014 season coming to a close, a new season starts, the annual Sandy Alderson flash mob slam. Yes, the patience of many Met fans is wearing thin and Alderson stands front and center as the target of their ire.

I for one have not lost hope that positive change is underway. I can’t help but recognize the parallels between the early work of Alderson and his front office team and that of Cashen during the beginning of his stay as the Met G.M. The work overhauling the minor leagues, the emphasis on the draft, the retooling of the young pitching staff, the willingness to trade popular current pieces for projected future success are all Alderson moves utilized by Cashen long ago.

As I see it, the jury is still out on Sandy’s Met rebuild, and this off-season is critical. When the groundwork was laid in the early 80’s, Cashen stepped out of his comfort zone and used free agency and trades to procure the main ingredients for a championship dish. Sandy Alderson has failed to do that as of yet. If and how he does will be the difference maker that determines Alderson’s legacy as a GM of the Mets.

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Video: Mike Piazza Inducted Into Mets Hall Of Fame http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/video-mike-piazza-inducted-into-mets-hall-of-fame.html/#comments Sun, 29 Sep 2013 17:55:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130341 photo (32)

Very rarely is a team graced with a player of the stature and talent of Michael Joseph Piazza. Subsequently, very rarely does a fanbase and a city mutually bond with a player like Michael Joseph Piazza.

Today as Piazza was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, fans were able to share yet another special moment with the greatest offensive catcher of all time.

“I look back now, in retrospect, and realize it was just fate,” said Piazza in a press conference prior to his induction ceremony. “I was just meant to be here. That’s that feeling I was talking about. You know, you can talk about agents and numbers and arguments and who’s right and who’s wrong. But if you look at the big picture of life, you realize that sometimes there’s just a destiny in things. And I truly feel it was my plan to be here, in one way, shape or form. It may not have been the most beautiful journey at the time, but it was meant to be.”

piazza

Piazza emerged from the home dugout and onto the field for a sellout crowd as master of ceremonies Howie Rose introduced the 12-time all-star. Met greats such as Doc Gooden, Rusty Staub, John Franco, Edgardo Alfonzo, Ed Kranepool, Keith Hernanez, Buddy Harrelson, Al Jackson, Mookie Wilson and Ed Charles were on hand to celebrate the 45-year old.

After Rose announce September 29th Mike Piazza Day in the city of New York, a number of teammates including Alfonzo, Franco commended him on his tremendous accomplishments as well as Al Leiter who did so via video message from MLB Network’s Studio 3.

piazza

Then came the induction, in which Franco and Alfonzo presented Piazza with his plaque, to which he proud held overhead for all 41,891 fans see.

piazza

In Piazza’s speech, he continued to thank the fans as well as God for his incredible baseball career. He then spoke to his mother and father, in a tearful moment in which he thanked them for all of their hard work in getting him to where he is today, his father visibly emotional.

Piazza then moved into an unfamiliar location, the mound, to throw out the first pitch. Mets captain David Wright acted as the catcher, in a fantastic moment in which Piazza delivered a perfect strike on the left side of the plate, much to the pleasure on an elated crowd, yet another beautiful moment between him and the fans.

piazza

“I think, my relationship here with the fans, like any relationship; when I got here they didn’t know me too well,” said Piazza. “They didn’t know anything about me. They didn’t know if I was going to stay. They didn’t know if I was completely committed to staying here. And I had some rough patches. I obviously struggled a little at the plate driving in runs and they let me hear it, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I can do one of two things: I can run and go to somewhere a little more safer and comfortable. Or I can meet this head-on and try to prove to these people that I want to belong and want to play for them and perform for them.’”

Mike Piazza, who with a swing of the bat brought New York City to their feet following the attacks on 9/11, was able to do so with a smile and a wave one more time in a tremendous ceremony of a Mets great.

Hopefully sooner rather than late, we will be able to celebrate Piazza once again, when number 31 is officially in left field among the other immortalized Mets; where it belongs.

(Photo Credits: Clayton Collier)

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Being A Mets Fan Isn’t All That Bad http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/being-a-mets-fan-isnt-all-that-bad.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/being-a-mets-fan-isnt-all-that-bad.html/#comments Fri, 30 Aug 2013 17:04:46 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=128269 mr met

Good ol’ Ted Berg wrote up a piece for USA Today where he details 16 reasons that being a Met fan isn’t so bad… It’s a light-hearted read on a Friday that’ll put a smile on your face, so here are some excerpts.

1. They’ve got the best mascot in sports

Mr. Met is not just a member of the Mascot Hall of Fame — which is an actual thing — he’s also the first mascot in baseball history to exist in human form. Mr. Met has a baseball for a head and it’s incredible. People think the Reds’ mascot, Mr. Redlegs, came before Mr. Met just because the Reds are the oldest franchise in baseball and Mr. Redlegs has a mustache. But Mr. Redlegs is a total knockoff.

4. Plenty of good seats are still available

Citi Field holds nearly 42,000, but the Mets average just over 27,000 tickets sold per game. Upper deck tickets to the Mets’ Wednesday night matchup with the Phillies start at 10 bucks. That’s cheaper than seeing a movie in New York City.

12. Rides on the “Super Express” train

The New York City subway system has plenty of local trains and plenty of express trains. But Mets fans who hustle out of the ballpark after games have the opportunity to catch the very rare “Super Express” train. Much like Superman, the Super Express train gets to Manhattan faster than the regular train.

My favorite one, however, is number nine…

9. You never lose hope

Even if you’re too young to remember the Mookie Wilson ground ball that got by Bill Buckner to cap one of the most famous postseason comebacks in baseball history in 1986, every Mets fan knows the team’s history of success after all seemed lost. The Yankees are associated with “legacy” and “tradition” and “legends,” but the Mets are known for “miracles” and “magic” and “you gotta believe.”

You know, with all the hell we go through as Mets fans, sometimes it’s nice to go back and watch some video of the ’86 series and just smile. The Mets are known for miracles and magic, as Berg states, but most importantly — Tug Mcgraw’s “Ya Gotta Believe.” A phrase that not only helped me get started as a writer, but kept me optimistic in baseball even though things seemed bleak otherwise. It’s not always that bad being a Mets fan, and hopefully things will be looking up soon…

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Joel Youngblood: No Respect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/joel-youngblood-no-respect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/joel-youngblood-no-respect.html/#comments Sat, 10 Aug 2013 17:20:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=126848 New York Mets History: August 4, 1982Former New York Met Joel Youngblood became the first player in Major League history to get a base hit for two different teams in two different cities in the same day. He started the day as a New York Met and collected a two-run single off Ferguson Jenkins in the third inning at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs. Youngblood was notified he was traded to the Montreal Expos in the fourth inning. He grabbed his bats, left the ballpark and caught a flight to Philadelphia in time for the Expos-Phillies game. He pinch-hit in the seventh inning and singled off Steve Carlton.

youngblood_joel_10Joel Youngblood played for six teams over his 14-year Major League Baseball career – including two in one day. It happened 30 years ago today on August 4, 1982; Youngblood’s longest, and in an odd way, his most productive day, as a major league player.

It started as a seemingly “normal” day in the life of a professional ballplayer. Youngblood woke up on that Wednesday morning in Chicago, a member of the New York Mets. This was 1982, before Wrigley Field installed lights. So the Mets and Cubs were scheduled to start at 2:10 p.m. Youngblood was at the park taking batting practice at 9:00 a.m. When then Mets manager George Bamberger posted the lineup card, Youngblood perked up when he saw his name starting in centerfield.

Starting was a day-to-day proposition for Youngblood during his six-year tenure in New York. It didn’t  matter who his manager was — Joe Torre or Bamberger — Youngblood would find himself at second base one day, right field or third base another and pinch-hitter the next day. He played six different positions during his time with the Mets. Youngblood hated the role. To him, utility meant uncertainty. But, for Torre, Youngblood was “a manager’s dream.”

“Don’t tell me, ‘You’re too good to start,’” Youngblood told Torre. “I don’t want to hear it. “What do I have to do? I’ve sat on the pine before. I want to play.”

Youngblood became so proficient as a utility player he was named to the National League All-Star team in 1981. Of course, that decision was out of necessity because, as All-Star rules go, each team has to have at least one representative. While Youngblood was not a regular in the Mets 1981 lineup he was the best of an otherwise slim crop of talent.

“Everybody talks about mental preparation in this game,” Youngblood told Sports Illustrated before the 1982 season. “Well, for so long I didn’t know where I was playing, what I was playing, if I was playing. So I told Joe I didn’t want to play third. I’m not comfortable at that position. I don’t even want balls to be hit to me when I’m in the infield. Joe said, ‘O.K.’ And he said I wouldn’t get to play very much.”

And, so it was. On Opening Day 1982 Youngblood was on the bench and rookie Mookie Wilson was in right field.

Youngblood suffered from poor timing. He arrived in the smallest of three infamous “Midnight Massacre” trades on June 15, 1977 included three trades: Tom Seaver to Cincinnati for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. The second: Dave Kingman to San Diego for Bobby Valentine. The third: Mike Phillips to St. Louis for Youngblood. His exit from New York was equally as awkward.

youngblood

Youngblood then started in center field in place the injured Mookie Wilson. In the third inning, Youngblood singled home two runs off Ferguson Jenkins, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead in a game they would go on to win 7-4. Meanwhile, Frank Cashen was 750 miles away in Little Falls, New York, trying to complete a trade that would send Youngblood to the Montreal Expos.

”We hoped to make the deal by game time,” Cashen told the New York Times the day after the trade. ”But there was a phone circuit problem, and we couldn’t complete it. Bamberger asked me what to do with Youngblood, and I told him to go ahead and start him, we’d take a chance on his getting hurt.”

With the Cubs batting in the bottom of the third, and Youngblood patrolling centerfield, Cashen called the visitors dugout at Wrigley Field. When the inning ended Bamberger cornered Youngblood and told him he’d been traded to the Expos.

Youngblood packed his bats and left Chicago.

Youngblood arrived at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia as the Expos and Phillies game was starting. He was inserted in the lineup in the seventh inning against Steve Carlton and delivered a pinch-hit single in the Expos 5-4 loss. The day started at 9:00 a.m. in Chicago and ended 14 hours later, at 11:00 p.m., in Philadelphia.

“With a flight, two games, it was a really long day,” Youngblood told the New York Daily News year later.

Youngblood became only the third player in history to play in two games with two different teams on the same day, but he also became the first and only player in major league history to play in two games in two cities and collect hits for both teams. Youngblood put an exclamation point on the feat by collecting hits against two future Hall of Fame pitchers (Jenkins and Carlton).

Respect.

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Retire No. 31 While You’re At It… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/retire-no-31-while-youre-at-it.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/retire-no-31-while-youre-at-it.html/#comments Mon, 15 Jul 2013 13:45:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124820 mike piazza

Yesterday, the New York Mets announced that Mike Piazza, the greatest home run-hitting catcher of all-time, will be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame on Fan Appreciation Day Sunday, September 29 at Citi Field. Piazza will become the 27th member of the Mets Hall of Fame during the Mets Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony prior to the 1:10 p.m. game vs. the Milwaukee Brewers.

It’s about time… But why stop there?

Blue_My_Take_On_31

Here’s something photoshopped about two years ago before the Mets moved in the walls at Citi Field. How cool would that look in our ballpark?

Has Piazza done enough as a Met to be worthy of such distinction? Absolutely… Consider this…

Piazza hit 220 of his 427 career home runs with the Mets, ranking second in franchise history. He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBI (655). Piazza was a seven-time All-Star with Mets.

Piazza set a team-record with 124 RBI and hit 40 home runs in 1999 and then finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs in 2000 as the Mets qualified for the playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in team history and reached the 2000 World Series.

That’s not all… Piazza hit his 352nd home run as a catcher on May 5, 2004 to break Carlton Fisk’s major league mark.

Now… Consider that and then throw in the Post 9/11 Game… His dramatic eighth-inning home run in the first sporting event in New York City after the 9-11 attacks beat the Atlanta Braves and helped the city begin the healing process.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Wilpon had this to say about Piazza yesterday:

“Mike Piazza reinvigorated our franchise when we acquired him in May, 1998. Mike is one of the greatest players in our history and we are thrilled to induct him into the Mets Hall of Fame.”

Lets go all they way on September 29 and do this thing right…

piazza gfx

RETIRE NO. 31…

(Photo credit: Newsday)

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Sights and Sounds of the 2013 All-Star FanFest! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/sights-and-sounds-of-the-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/07/sights-and-sounds-of-the-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/#comments Sat, 13 Jul 2013 16:31:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=124719 fan fest ribbon cutting

Let’s get this 2013 MLB All-Star FanFest started…

all star 5k run

On your marks, get set, go… MLB mascots kick off today’s 5K All Star Run…

gooden franco larussa

John Franco wants to know if there’s a Doctor in the house…

mookie ozzie

Mookie and Ozzie and some dude with a big head…

mlb fan fest family photo

I have no idea who what that green thing in the White Sox hat is….

fan fest mets ball

Now that is one cool baseball!

harvey wright jerseys

Hmmm…. Let me get one of each in extra large please….

finzie

Everybody wants an autograph….

cano rivera

Boo!!!!

mets baseball fan fest'

OMG!!! How cool would this look in my man cave?

bucket of all star balls

Something for the kiddies….

Former Mets John Franco, Mookie Wilson and Edgardo Alfonzo are on hand at the Javits Center to open the five-day 2013 All-Star FanFest.

Noah Syndergaard, Taijuan Walker and Archie Bradley visit Foley’s, the Fan Cave, MLB.com offices and FanFest during a tour of New York City.

Check back later for more sights and sounds from the All-Star FanFest!

 

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Montero and Syndergaard to Represent Mets in 2014 Futures Game http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-syndergaard-to-represent-mets-in-2014-futures-game.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/montero-and-syndergaard-to-represent-mets-in-2014-futures-game.html/#comments Wed, 26 Jun 2013 19:31:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=123182 Starting pitching prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard will both be at Citi Field in the middle of July. They aren’t getting the call to the big leagues just yet, but they will be representing the Mets as their two participants for this year’s Futures Game. The event will be held on Sunday, July 14th at 2pm.

Yesterday, we found out Mookie Wilson will manage the USA team, while Edgardo Alfonzo will head the World team. They will each get a highly-rated Mets hurler for their squads, as Syndergaard will go to the US, and Montero to the World.

Syndergaard has spent most of the season with St. Lucie, but recently got promoted to Double-A, impressing in his first outing for the B-Mets. Overall, Noah is 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 13 starts (69.2 innings pitched), and has collected 71 strikeouts and 17 walks.

Montero got roughed up for the first time in Triple-A last night, but still has had a stellar season while splitting time with Binghamton and Las Vegas. He’s a combined 7-4 in 15 starts (86.2 innings pitched), with a 2.91 ERA, 92 strikeouts, and 16 walks.

Like the MLB does with the All-Star game, there is a final vote left up to the fans for the remaining spots on the USA and World teams. Ten players will be vying for two spots (five on each side), and Brandon Nimmo is included in this year’s vote. Make sure to cast a vote for the 2011 first-round pick by visiting this site.

(Photo courtesy of Gordon Donovan)

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Keith, The Mets & Me: A Thirty-Year Love Affair http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/keith-the-mets-me-a-thirty-year-love-affair.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/keith-the-mets-me-a-thirty-year-love-affair.html/#comments Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:00:08 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=122101 I became a Mets fan on Memorial Day 1981.  My father wasn’t feeling well that day so we had to cancel our annual Memorial Day barbecue, leaving eight-year-old me to find something to do since I was home from school that day.  My ill father was in bed all day, so I decided to lay back on his comfortable-beyond-words recliner and watch TV.  The last person who watched the tube had left it on Channel 9 and since 1981 was the pre-remote control era of television (at least it was in our household), I didn’t feel like getting up to physically change the channel, so I just watched was on WOR at the time.  It was a Mets-Phillies game.  And it was beautiful.

The Mets destroyed Philadelphia, showing no brotherly love for their division rivals in a 13-3 romp.  Although many players performed well for the Mets that day (Hubie Brooks, Lee Mazzilli and Joel Youngblood had three hits apiece and Dave Kingman hit a grand slam), it was Mookie Wilson who captured my attention and made me thankful that we weren’t a remote control household.  Mookie reached base four times that day (two hits, two walks).  He also scored three runs and drove in two.  After leading off the game with a walk, Mookie proceeded to swipe second and scored the first of the Mets’ four runs in that inning.  It was the first time I had been exposed to Mookie’s baserunning abilities, and I was utterly amazed.  Six innings later, Mookie crushed a long drive to center off former Met Tug McGraw that went for a two-run triple.  His gazzelle-like speed mesmerized the eight-year-old me to the point where I checked the TV guide (I had to get off the couch eventually) for when the next Mets game was going to be aired on WOR.

Less than three weeks after discovering Mookie and the Mets, baseball went on strike.  For two months, I couldn’t indulge in my new passion – my New York Mets passion, that is.  Fortunately, my father recovered from his illness and we were able to have many barbecues to pass the time during baseball’s two-month hiatus.  Baseball returned to my TV screen in August, and I quickly eschewed burgers and hot dogs on the grill for Mookie and the Mets on my grill.

Run, Mookie, Run!

Run, Mookie, Run!

Although my father hails from Puerto Rico, an island paradise that loves its baseball, he has never been much of a sports fan.  He knows the object of the game, but can’t differentiate between an infield fly and an unzipped fly.  So naturally, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to get him to take me to a Mets game at Shea Stadium.  Every conversation would start the same way (“We’re not doing anything this weekend, right?  Can you get us tickets for this game?”) and unfortunately, they would also end the same way (“No.”).  It took over two years for me to finally make it out to Shea to meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and greet the Mets.  And when I did, it was because my Little League team went as a group.  The date was June 15, 1983 – thirty years ago today – and it became a memorable day not just for the then ten-year-old me, but for all Mets fans.

When we got to the game, I remember how disappointed I was that Mookie Wilson was not in the starting lineup (Danny Heep took Mookie’s place as the leadoff hitter and centerfielder for the game.  It was only the second time all year that Mookie wasn’t in the starting lineup for the Mets.)  My fleet-footed hero didn’t start, but Craig Swan did, taking the mound for the Mets against future Hall-of-Famer Ferguson Jenkins.  Unfortunately, Swan was not graceful that night.  By the time I got back from my second bathroom break in the second inning (my Little League teammates were not amused that I kept stepping on their feet every time I tried to squeeze by them in our upper deck seats), Swan was out of the game and the Mets were down 4-0.

The bullpen pitched very well after Swan’s early exodus and the Mets rallied to tie the game.  Mookie did pinch-hit in the fifth inning, but struck out against Jenkins, denying me the opportunity to see him fly around the bases.  Of course, his one-day replacement in center field, Danny Heep, followed Wilson’s strikeout with the game-tying hit, causing my Little League teammates to tease me by saying that Heep was going to be the centerfielder of the future.  I’m glad they were wrong.

Neither team scored after Heep knotted the game, necessitating extra innings and causing some of the parents and chaperones to wonder if they should take the kids home.  They decided to stick around for the tenth, but told us all that if the game went to the 11th, we would have to leave.  We did get to see the game to its conclusion, but it wasn’t the conclusion I wanted.  The Mets lost the game to the Chicago Cubs in ten innings by the score of 7-4.  An error by first baseman Rusty Staub and a timely bunt by Bill Buckner set the Cubs up for their big inning and my bigger disappointment.  But errors by Mets’ first basemen were about to become a thing of the past, thanks to a brilliant trade engineered by general manager Frank Cashen.

A Gold Glove, a sweet swing, a killer 'stache.  Keith Hernandez brought it all to the table.

A Gold Glove, a sweet swing, a killer ‘stache.  Keith Hernandez had it all.

Earlier in the evening, the Mets announced that they had acquired first baseman Keith Hernandez from the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals in a trade for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey.  I remember how happy the sparse crowd of 11,631 was when the announcement was flashed on DiamondVision.  I also remember how confused I was that the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the “big TV screen in left field” rather than the events taking place on the field.  But as the years went by and my love of the Mets grew, I realized just how special Keith Hernandez truly was, both as a player and as a team leader.

As you all know, the trade for Keith Hernandez set off a chain of events that led to a World Series title three years later (a World Series that turned my man Mookie into a Mets legend for all time).  Hernandez’s arrival gave instant credibility to the languishing franchise, although it took until the following season for that off-the-field credibility to translate into on-the-field wins.

In hindsight, it didn’t matter that the Mets lost on June 15, 1983.  It was one of 94 games they lost that season anyway.  That day was important to me for more than just a game.  That day began my love affair with Shea Stadium and my subsequent appreciation of Keith Hernandez.  I should have known the Mets had acquired someone special when I listened to the sweet voice of Bob Murphy after the game during the radio post-game show when he said “the Mets lost the game tonight, but they have gained a superstar.”  Thirty years ago today, the magic that was the Mets entered my life.  It has never left.

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Great Expectations and a Met Prospect’s Swan Song http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/matt-harvey-and-tom-seaver-and-craig-swan.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/06/matt-harvey-and-tom-seaver-and-craig-swan.html/#comments Sun, 09 Jun 2013 12:00:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=121446 The GM is one of the most despised people in New York. People are calling for the manager to be fired. The entire team is neither executing nor playing fundamentally sound baseball. We’re not hitting and fans are now outnumbered by empty seats. The Mets seem destined for a 90+ loss season and avoiding 100 losses will be an accomplishment. The Yankees own the city. Opposing teams are chomping at the bit when they arrive in Flushing. There seems to be little hope and only darkness on the horizon for years to come.

But in the midst of this we have one bright spot… A young and very talented pitcher that we are pinning our hopes on. He will become the ace of our staff. He will become our new Tom Seaver.

My question is this: Am I referring to the 2013 Mets or the Mets of the late seventies? Am I talking about Matt Harvey or Craig Swan?

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

craig swan (4)Craig Steven Swan was born in California (just like Seaver) on November 30, 1950. He was the Mets third round pick in the 1972 draft. After Swannie pitched in the ’72 College World Series and allowed just one earned run in 18.0 innings pitched, fans saw a dynasty coming. A guy like this would be joining Seaver, Koosman and Matlack. Wow!

From 73 through 75, Swan battled inconsistency. He was regularly shuffled back and forth between New York and Tidewater – the Mets AAA affiliate at the time. By 1976, however, Swan became our number five starter behind our Big Three and Mickey Lolich. He was finally here to stay.

However, his inconsistency rattled the nerves of fans. His first four starts were downright awful. Then, over his next three, he allowed just one earned run and 13 hits in 26 innings. The Mets won 86 games that season and Swan went 6-9 with a respectable 3.54 ERA.

In 1977, M. Donald Grant traded away “The Franchise” and ripped out the hearts of Mets fans. Losses went up, attendance went down. The Mets finished in last place, 37 games back. Our 98 losses were the most in a decade. Swan finished with a 9-10 record and posted a disappointing 4.23 ERA. However, his nine victories were more than both Koosman and Matlack that season.

By 1978, the Mets had sunk to new lows and were downright terrible. And although we still had Kooz, it was becoming clear that #36 was disgruntled and wanted to get the hell out of New York. Craig Swan assumed the role of de-facto ace. He was a good pitcher on a bad team. (Matt Harvey anyone?)

Swan’s first start of the year was a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits. On July 4th, 1978, the Mets’ brightest star fanned 13 but took a 3-2 loss. He dropped to 1-5, yet his ERA was a Seaver-esque 2.66. On September 16th, in spite of allowing just three hits and one earned run over none innings, the Mets’ bats were quiet as usual. Swan failed to secure the “W.”

swan

When the curtain came down on the 78 season, Craig Swan led the National League with a 2.43 ERA had the league’s second best WHIP. At Shea his ERA was 1.67. His record, however, was 9-6. Good pitcher. Bad team. On a good team, with stats like these, Swan would have probably been a 20 game winner.

By 79, Koosman was now gone and Swan found himself the Mets ace. He made 35 starts, tossed 251 innings, racked up ten complete games – three of them shutouts. His 3.29 ERA was led the team and remarkably his 11 wins were more than any two other Mets combined.

Perhaps he really was our new Seaver as the young righthander was now our lone beacon of hope. Management forked over $3.25 million for five years and made Craig the highest paid pitcher in team history.

He was well worth it and 1980 saw Swan yet again pitch masterfully. Although the Mets were still awful and providing him with no run support, Swan was 5-4 with a superb 2.21 ERA through mid-June.

And then, just like that, he fell apart.

His velocity dropped and suddenly his command became uncharacteristically erratic. He couldn’t get anyone out. One month later it was determined that the Mets ace had torn his rotator cuff. Back then, surgery was not yet an option as it is today, and it appeared that Swan’s career was most likely at an end. But Swan did what most pitchers at that time did; he rested. After a month off he returned to make two more terrible starts before we landed back on the DL and was lost for the season.

In spite of the torn rotator, Swan was back on the mound the following April. In his second start of the season, he walked leadoff man Tim Raines on four pitches. On his fifth pitch, also a ball, Raines broke for second base and Mets catcher Ron Hodges attempted to nail the speedy Raines. However, Swan had his back to the plate and Hodges’ throw slammed right into Swan’s back resulting in a fractured rib. A Metsian moment to be sure.

Swan returned to the DL yet again. He was now dealing with the fractured rib as well as coming back from the torn rotator cuff. He made two ineffective relief appearances later that spring… And then the baseball strike of 1981 happened. Swan came back after the strike, continued struggling and spent the remainder of the season on the DL. The Mets ace, the highest paid pitcher on our staff, tossed 13.2 innings that season.

swan mookie wilson

By 1982, we were beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The long dark days appeared to be coming to an end as a couple of kids named Mookie Wilson and Hubie Brooks brought some excitement back to Shea. We were also hearing great things about a couple prospects in the minors named Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Lo and behold the Mets, now under new ownership and a new GM, acquired RBI machine and a legitimate home run threat – former MVP George Foster.

And in the middle of all this, Craig Swan bounced back big time. Although the Mets still struggled, going 65-97, Swan again found himself the ace on a bad team. He was the Mets leader in ERA (3.35) and wins (11). and was the only starter to post a winning record. For his efforts he finished second to Joe Morgan for NL Comeback Player of the Year. Swan was also used out of the bullpen that season and compiled a solid 1.30 ERA working out of the pen.

It was during Spring Training in 1983 when the 32-year old Swan felt “something pop.” His myo-fascial tissue had been ripped from his triceps. He again attempted to pitch through this new injury. The battler and bulldog that he was, realized he was.the ace and that his team needed him. However, it was to no avail as he went 2-8 with a 5.51 ERA, and ultimately he was shut down again.

It was a devastating blow, but fans were distracted because the Mets acquired a new pitcher – Tom Seaver was back in a Mets uniform and Swan’s career-ending injury was just a mere footnote. Swan was overshadowed by the very man he was supposed to become.

By 1984, the Mets seemed poised to compete. There was something different in the air. Hope? Promise? Craig Swan who spent years being a very good pitcher mired on a very bad team would finally get to be on a competitor. However, it was not meant to be.

It was obvious the injuries had finally taken taken a toll and gotten the better of him. In 18.2 IP he allowed 17 ER and five home runs. The Mets ace, the man who was destined to replace Seaver, the man who landed that record $3.25 million contract, was sadly released on May 7, 1984.

He was picked up by the Angels but after getting knocked around twice, they released him as well. The promising kid from California who was going to lead the Mets to glory, was now out of Major League Baseball at the age of 33.

After spending his career dealing with and learning about injuries, Craig Swan became a huge believer and follower of Rolfing. It’s described as a holistic system of soft tissue manipulation that organizes the whole body in gravity. He currently lives in Stamford, CT where he operates a physical therapy facility that specializes in Rolfing.

On September 28, 2008, the Mets brought down the curtain on Shea Stadium after 45 seasons. A handful of former Mets were invited to be on hand and 57 year old Craig Swan was one of them. As he scanned the stadium and glanced at the same pitching mound where he once was the ace of the Mets, who did he see? Tom Seaver, on the rubber, throwing the ceremonial “Final Pitch” to another beloved Met, Mike Piazza. Craig Swan was once again in Seaver’s shadow.

Days later, Swan was at work at his Rolfing practice in Connecticut when he looked up to see none other than his good friend and former teammate walk in. It was Tom Seaver. The Hall of Famer had spent fourteen days in traction in nearby Greenwich and was still in pain. His back was messed up and he seeked out Swan of all people for help. Craig explained to Tom the theory behind Rolfing and how it works. It was now Swan doing the teaching. He educated his former teammate on how to “soften” his toes while walking and how this would help to alleviate his back pain.

Seaver jokingly asked, “Swannie, how am I supposed to see what my toes are doing? They’re inside my shoes.”

Craig Swan smiled, affectionately put his arm around his friend and replied, “You’ve got three Cy Young Awards. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

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Mookie On Valdespin: Give The Kid A Chance, He’s A Very Spirited Kid… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/mookie-on-valdespin-give-the-kid-a-chance-hes-a-very-spirited-kid.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/mookie-on-valdespin-give-the-kid-a-chance-hes-a-very-spirited-kid.html/#comments Fri, 17 May 2013 17:20:31 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=119181 jordany valdespin

The most famous No. 1 in Mets’ history has some advice when it comes to the man who is quickly becoming the most infamous No. 1 on the Mets.

“Give the kid a chance,” Mookie Wilson said Friday when discussing Jordany Valdespin. “He is a very spirited kid, very young and has a lot to learn, no question about that. But some things are being blown out of proportion. I think we need to back up and not overanalyze everything.”

That’s what Mookie told Bill Price of the Daily News.

“I do know the kid personally,” said Wilson. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with him for a limited time. I think we need to give everyone an opportunity to explain themselves and what is really happening.”

“They are struggling right now and I think that’s expected when you have young players and players coming in from other organizations. This is similar to what the Mets went through in the early ‘80s. Winning was not a frequent thing, we didn’t see the results of our labor, but in 1983 we were starting to be in games. I see that with the Mets now.”

And the beat goes on…

UPDATE:

Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog writes moments ago:

However, no team can guarantee success, regardless of who they sign, trade for or develop. They can only guarantee that New York’s media will continue to push on a story until it bleeds, because they know it will sell and people will read and listen… which is exactly what we’ve seen this week with this Valdespin and Collins story.

Is he kidding me?

What is going on over there…

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Wright Named Official Spokesman For 2013 All Star FanFest http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/wright-named-official-spokesman-for-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/wright-named-official-spokesman-for-2013-all-star-fanfest.html/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 09:25:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=116147 mr met

Updated 12:15 PM

David Wright on Wednesday joined New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mets favorites in kicking off this year’s All-Star Game festivities at City Hall, with less than three months to go before the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field.

Wright was named Major League Baseball’s official spokesman for the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, to be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center from July 12-16, while former Mets Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco and Mookie Wilson were anointed All-Star ambassadors.

“All-Star FanFest is the world’s largest baseball fan event and is a great experience for the whole family,” Wright said in a statement. “Just like New York City, FanFest has something for everyone, and I am proud to be a part of the home team as we host this exciting event.”

As FanFest’s official spokesperson, Wright will help to generate public awareness for the event and make appearances in support of it. Alfonzo, Franco and Wilson, meanwhile, will take part in an array of All-Star events leading up to and throughout MLB All-Star Week.

Some attractions include:

  • The Diamond - Located at the center of T-Mobile All-Star FanFest, this attraction features daily clinics and appearances by MLB players, managers and other experts. Past appearances have included George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, Jr. and many other MLB greats
  • Legends Autograph Program - Free autographs from Hall of Famers and MLB legends. Players such as Andre Dawson, Rollie Fingers, Ferguson Jenkins and Juan Marichal have previously signed for fans at T-Mobile All-Star FanFest
  • National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum - Take a stroll through Baseball’s glorious past and experience the history of the national pastime with one of the largest collections of artifacts on loan from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown
  • The Negro Leagues - A compelling visual journey back in time, the Negro Leagues attraction brings to life the heroic history of some of the game’s proudest and most talented players
  • Hometown Heroes - Hometown Heroes showcases the New York Mets history, roots in the community and promise for the future
  • World’s Largest Baseball - What better way to welcome families to the largest baseball fan event in the world than with the World’s Largest Baseball? The signature white leather, red-laced ball measures 12 feet in diameter and features the signatures of baseball greats such as Hank Aaron, Rod Carew, Derek Jeter, Nolan Ryan, Ozzie Smith and Ted Williams

The All-Star Game will return to Queens this summer for the first time since 1964, when the Mets hosted it during Shea Stadium’s inaugural season. New York City has played host to the Midsummer Classic eight times, most recently at the old Yankee Stadium in 2008.

Citi Field opened in 2009 after more than a decade of planning and construction; its completion coincided with the demolition of Shea Stadium, which the Mets called home for 45 seasons. Owner Fred Wilpon recently called the All-Star Game a chance to “show off the ballpark,” which was constructed to resemble old Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

New York City has hosted the All-Star Game nine times, but this year’s game will be the first in Queens since 1964. New York last hosted the Midsummer Classic in 2008 at old Yankee Stadium.

Including the space in 54 luxury boxes, six clubs and restaurants, Citi Field can hold up to 41,922 fans at maximum capacity. Opened in 2009, the ballpark is within steps of the Citi Field-Willets Point stop on the New York City subway’s elevated No. 7 line.

 

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Memorable Mets Moments: Jesse and Roger in the Outfield http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/magical-mystical-mets-moment-jesse-and-roger-in-the-outfield.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/magical-mystical-mets-moment-jesse-and-roger-in-the-outfield.html/#comments Wed, 10 Apr 2013 17:28:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113971 jesse oroscoChampionship seasons are invariably marked by certain games and plays that are later tabbed as “turning points” for posterity.  For the 1986 edition of the Mets, their turning point may well have occurred in only the 6th game of the season when, after winning their first two contests but dropping the next three, the team sat a game under .500. Although another 157 games remained to be played, many fans and even tabloid back pages cried out: “What is wrong with the Mets?” The answer of course, was nothing, and they set about proving that by winning their next eleven games and seven of the next eight after that on their way to a finishing a gaudy 21 and ½ games in front of the runner up Phillies for the division title.

But there are also games that seem to be indicative of some kind of destiny intended for a team. When it appears in retrospect that a team was destined for greatness, the games that stick out are the type where a win that seemed wholly improbable at one point was captured either through perseverance, dumb luck, a managerial gamble, or some apparently mysterious force. Such was the case when the Mets met up with the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium on the night of July 22 of that memorable year.

The Mets were down to their last out in the top of the ninth, trailing 3-1 as Keith Hernandez faced John Franco with the tying runs on base. Hernandez lifted an easy fly to right that looked to be the last gasp for the NY squad as the Reds’ Dave Parker settled under it. In a stunning turn of events, Parker dropped the easy chance and the runners scurried home to tie the score. Given second life, the Mets began a tenacious and somewhat  outre’ extra-inning odyssey.

A combination of factors including the use of 3 pinch hitters, a double switch, and an ejection (Darryl Strawberry in the 6th for arguing a strike call) had left the Met bench bereft of options for manager Davey Johnson. As the game moved into the bottom of the 10th, Johnson brought in Jesse Orosco as the fifth Met pitcher of the evening. It was at this point that an element of strangeness began to pervade the proceedings.

After Parker was retired for the first out, Pete Rose, then player/manager of the Reds, inserted himself as a pinch hitter and singled. He then reverted to straight managerial mode and brought in Eric Davis to pinch run. Davis promptly stole second and then went for third on a subsequent pitch. His hard slide brought him into contact with Mets third sacker Ray Knight who responded with a bit of contact of his own. A shoving match ensued along with some words being exchanged and before you knew it, Knight’s Golden Gloves instincts had led him to pop Davis right in the kisser. The result was your standard bench-clearing bedlam, and when order was restored, two players from each team were ejected including Knight, Davis, Reds pitcher Mario Soto and Mets RF Kevin Mitchell who had been inserted to replace Strawberry. This left the Mets without sufficient position players to field a full team as the only remaining bench asset at this point was backup catcher Ed Hearn.

roger mcdowell

Having conferred with his coaches and remaining eligible players, Johnson elected to shift Gary Carter from behind the plate to third replacing Knight and inserted Hearn at Catcher. The outfield was another matter entirely.

Anticipating the probability of needing a right handed arm to spell Orosco if the game continued much beyond the current inning, Johnson inserted reliever Roger McDowell in RF and initiated a strange merry-go-round of pitchers and outfield alignments to compensate for the Mets’ suddenly shorter bench.

As different Reds players came to bat, Johnson would shift either Orosco or McDowell to the mound based primarily on whom he felt could best induce the batter to hit the ball to an established outfielder if solid contact was made (at this point, Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra comprised the other two thirds of the outfield).

As the game wore on, players were shifted repeatedly as Johnson managed to dodge situations where his pitcher/outfielders would actually have to figure in a defensive play. By way of contrast, one of his other displaced troops sparkled in the bottom of the twelfth when, with two Reds on base and none out, emergency third sacker Carter figured in the middle of a nicely turned double play to end the threat.

In the bottom of the thirteenth, Tony Perez stepped to the plate seemingly intent on exploiting the Mets’ compromised defense.  Looking for a pitch he could drive the other way, he swung at a McDowell offering and lined a shot to right field where Orosco was stationed. Jesse made a quick lateral move and snagged the liner, unable to suppress a smile at the seeming absurdity of it all.

Finally, in the top of the fourteenth, Howard Johnson provided the coup de grace with a long three-run bomb off pitcher Ted Power and McDowell finished the Reds off for a 6-3 victory.  In retrospect, the result of this game seemed almost inevitable, as the Mets of that season were a juggernaut that apparently could beat you with one outfielder tied behind their back.

casey stengel - Copy

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The Youth Movement has Fully Begun at Citi Field http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-youth-movement-has-fully-begun-at-citi-field.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/the-youth-movement-has-fully-begun-at-citi-field.html/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 19:55:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113667 The last time the Mets had a youth movement, it was the in early 80’s and they were coming off a terrible run of losing seasons. The likes of Dwight Gooden, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Wally Backman, and Darryl Strawberry roamed the grounds at Shea Stadium and they quickly made a name for themselves especially after their magical run in 1986 that led them straight to a World Series Championship. Sprinkled in with a group of veterans, the Mets were enjoying the success of their home grown talent. You would’ve hoped that this sort of thing would last for years to come, but it seemed to be short lived.

Fast forward ten years to the days of competing for the right to command the front and back pages of the local New York newspapers with the Yankees. Winning baseball didn’t seem to consist of just developing the youth, it mattered most about getting the right players in a trade or free agency to try and win each and every year. Some years it was successful and other years it was just a terrible waste of money.

The 2000 Mets seemed to have the right pieces in place with some home grown players mixed in with a group of veterans brought in to help the Mets finally reach what they hadn’t done in nearly 14 years, and that is not just make it back to the World Series, but actually win again. With a city focused on Yankee baseball, the right ingredients were what mattered most for the Mets. And in 2000, they had the right team that made it back to the World Series, but this time met a Yankees team that was stronger and more experienced winning the big game, so the Mets settled for another year waiting in second place to the Yankees and longing for that elusive ring.

With six more years of trying to get it right, the Mets tried again to bring in talent from out of the organization through trade and free agency and had a team that the starting lineup consisted of only two homegrown players as in David Wright and Jose Reyes. This mix of players took them to the brink of another World Series appearance, only to be beaten by the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and once again sending the organization back to the drawing board to try and get it right.

mets fansWell in 2013, I believe they finally have the pieces in place to maybe mimic the youth movement of the early to mid 1980’s. Twenty Seven years later, the Mets have decided to go with what they knew best back in the day, to build a team around a few stars, but allow their younger players to grow into superstars.

The lineup that the Mets posted on Opening Day 2013 included six home grown players and the 25 man roster today in total includes 15 players that are from the Mets minor league system. Very impressive when you consider what that would mean to a team in a big market who needs to put a winning product on the field each year. But for the Mets, with the talent that they are producing have set themselves up for many years to come with players that will grow up together and with the hopes of only getting better and one day winning that elusive ring that the franchise has longed for since the last one in 1986. And the Mets are not done yet with two young studs, catcher Travis d’Arnaud (Trade with Blue Jays) and Pitcher Zack Wheeler waiting for their turn to call Citi field their home, hopefully later this season.

This year may not produce a Mets World Championship, but once again there is a future in the Mets part of town and it is exciting. The season is very young (only six games in) but they are already exciting to watch and they are young and just want to play baseball. That is something not seen in NY in a very long time, but something that has been well worth the wait. This season is gearing up to be an exciting run for the Mets with an upside to the whole equation; the Mets are young and only going to get better. The Youth Movement is back in Queens.

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Featured Post: Hope In Flushing, Despair In The Bronx http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/featured-post-hope-in-flushing-despair-in-the-bronx.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/featured-post-hope-in-flushing-despair-in-the-bronx.html/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2013 19:18:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=110470 mark-teixeiraIt seems you just can’t watch the evening sports reports these days without hearing about how yet another Yankee “great” has landed himself on the disabled list. This week it was Mark Teixeira. The longtime Yankee first baseman will miss eight to ten weeks after an injury suffered while hitting balls off a tee during a workout for the World Baseball Classic.

Teixeira will join Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez with longterm DL stints once the season starts. The Captain, Derek Jeter is also rehabbing a busted ankle, so who knows what the Yankees will get from him this season.

The living legend Mariano Rivera is returning from knee surgery, and announced his retirement on Saturday.

Adding insult to injury is that the Yankees really don’t have a “brand name” catcher, and the outfield is filled with question marks. Hmm… sounds like another team we may know…

Right now… I’ll take the Mets projected starting infield of Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and David Wright, and take them over the Yankees any day. Heck I’ll stack them up against any other infield in baseball. And for the record, I Wright is one of the best all-around third basemen in the game and certainly in New York.

wright spring

John Buck is a solid veteran with pop behind the plate, and it won’t be long until top catching prospect Travis d`Arnaud makes his way to the big club. I see a bright future for the Mets infield.

As far as the outfield goes, once upon a time, Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra were complete unknowns. So were Jay Payton, Benny Agbayani, Timo Perez, Endy Chavez and Kevin Mitchell. Yet, all these unknown players made it to the post season with the Mets.

Who’s to say Mike Baxter isn’t the next Endy Chavez (get the great catch angle?), or that Lucas Duda won’t be the next Kevin Mitchell. Who knows? The point is nobody knows and that’s the beauty of baseball.

I have no doubt the Yankees will make some lop-sided trades this season and spend some big money for some quick damage control. But who knows how that will turn out either?

I know one thing… This season and moving forward, the Mets have hope for a brighter future built around a solid young core of players and farm system bursting with talent. I’m not so certain you can say the same thing for that other team from the Bronx.

addicted to mets button

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MMO Player Of The Week: Andres Torres http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/05/mmo-player-of-the-week-andres-torres.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/05/mmo-player-of-the-week-andres-torres.html/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 23:50:25 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=80165 The MetsMerizedOnline Player of the Week for this week has shown he has a great impact on this team. This week includes the 3-game series against the Houston Astros and the 3-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Here is our MMO Player of the Week for 4/30/2012 – 5/6/2012:

Through the use of the scorecard, let’s take a look at how Andres Torres did this week:

G

AB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVG

6

22

8

2

1

0

0

6

2

4

.364

I honestly don’t think I’d ever expect to say Andres Torres would win the Player Of The Week award, but he did well this week and produced for the Mets. While I still don’t feel he should replace Kirk Nieuwenhuis, he did quite well this week. I will also note he had a stolen base.

Honorable Mentions

These players, although not winning the Player of the Week award, had a very strong showing this week and deserve to be recognized. We will also show how strong a showing they had through the use of the scorecard.

Daniel Murphy

G

AB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVG

6

21

7

2

1

0

0

2

0

1

.333

David Wright

G

AB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVG

6

20

6

4

0

1

0

0

3

4

.300

Ruben Tejada

G

AB

H

R

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

K

AVG

6

21

6

1

2

0

0

0

0

7

.286

Frank Francisco

G

IP

W

L

SV

R

ER

BB

K

AVG

WHIP

3

2.2

0

0

2

0

0

1

3

.200

1.13

Bobby Parnell

G

IP

W

L

SV

R

ER

BB

K

AVG

WHIP

3

2.1

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

.111

0.43

Ramon Ramirez

G

IP

W

L

SV

R

ER

BB

K

AVG

WHIP

2

2.1

0

0

0

0

0

3

1

.125

1.71

Not So Hot

The Not So Hot area mentions a few players who did not have a good week this week.

Jon Niese

Chris Schwinden (now demoted)

Manny Acosta

Jon Rauch

Josh Thole

Ike Davis

Player Of The Week Scoreboard

This area shows the scoreboard of the Players of the Week, and who has won already this season and how many times.

David Wright – 1

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – 1

Johan Santana – 1

Andres Torres – 1

Trivia

To finish off the Player of the Week announcement each week, I’ll be asking you a trivia question. The answer will be announced during the next Player of the Week announcement, as well as the first person who answered correctly. Another question will then be asked. Last Week’s Answer is: Harry Chiti. Alex68 was the first person to correctly answer the question. So here is this week’s question:

When the Mets won Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, what Met pitcher was warming up in the bullpen to pitch the next inning if Mookie Wilson had made out?

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