Mets Merized Online » Roger McDowell Tue, 06 Dec 2016 13:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Mets Give Us Many Reasons To Be Thankful Fri, 25 Nov 2016 20:25:24 +0000 yogi berra casey stengel

As Mets fans, we have had a lot to be thankful for over the years. First and foremost, we have a team we care about deeply. They give us a release from our daily trials and pressures.

If you’re a shut-in, they give you entertainment and a sense of belonging to a greater entity. They make your day.

They are our team, unlike any other, and we are thankful for the passion in our hearts whenever we find our seat at Citi Field or turn on the television. For the next three hours, they entertain and sometimes frustrate us. But, we’ll always watch.

I don’t believe in the term “die hard Mets fan,’’ because dying means you eventually turn away from them. If you’re a fan, you always stay. Once you give your heart to them, you don’t take it back.

I also don’t believe in “long suffering Mets fan.” They might frustrate us, but we don’t watch to suffer. We watch in hope.

It’s why, on the day after Thanksgiving, you’re reading Mets blogs, you’re waiting for the Winter Meetings and the hope they’ll do something big, and you’re waiting for spring training.

Quite frankly, the Wilpons and GM Sandy Alderson, from their lofty perches, don’t understand what we do about the team they run.

It’s the holiday season and the order is Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and Opening Day. Aren’t they the ones that really matter?

As a Mets fan, what are you most thankful for?

How about William Shea, who when the Dodgers and Giants left the city, fought to bring National League baseball back to New York?

You’re thankful for:

Catcher Hobie Landrith, the first player taken by the Mets in the 1961 expansion draft.

Casey Stengel, the Old Professor was the Mets’ first manager. His words made us dizzy as we watched that 120-loss team in 1962.

Don Zimmer, a Brooklyn Dodger who became an original Met.

Frank Thomas, the Mets’ first star and Ron Hunt, the first All-Star.

We’re thankful for the legends of Marvelous Marv Throneberry; Choo-Choo ColemanAl JacksonRoger CraigJim HickmanRoy McMillan and his specs; Jay Hook, the winning pitcher in the club’s first victory.

We’re thankful for the former stars who became Mets for a brief time: Richie AshburnGus BellDuke SniderYogi Berra, and, of course, Gil Hodges.

We’re thankful the Mets let us watch baseball once again in the Polo Grounds. And, we’re thankful for Shea Stadium, that when it opened in 1964 brought a bright and shiny toy for our team to play in.

Once state-of-the-art, even when Shea Stadium became cold, drafty and leaky, we’re thankful because it was our home.

We’re thankful for Hodges’ steadying hand that brought us the Miracle Mets of 1969, with the celebration at Shea Stadium. We’re thankful the Mets became baseball’s best “worst-to-first story.’’

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We’re thankful for 1969, and the brilliance that was Tom Seaver, a future Hall of Famer and the franchise’s greatest player.

We’re thankful that season also showcased Jerry Koosman’s guile; Jerry Grote’s toughness; Bud Harrelson’s steadiness at shortstop; Ed Kranepool, who struggled through the hard times to taste champagne; for Tommie Agee’s glove and power; for the addition of Donn Clendenon; and for the steady bat of Cleon Jones.

We’re thankful Hodges had the backbone to publicly discipline Jones, a turning point to that season.

We’re thankful we saw a real team in 1969, with many non-descript players had their moments. Al WeisRon SwobodaDon CardwellKen BoswellJ.C. MartinJoe Foy, and so many others.

We’re thankful we got to see Nolan Ryan in his Hall of Fame infancy that year.

We’re thankful for organist Jane Jarvis, sign-man Karl Ehrhardt, Banner Day, and the guy we sit next to for nine innings and talk Mets.

We’re also thankful for the second championship season, 1986, when victory was expected and featured one of the game’s greatest comebacks.

We’re thankful the immense talent that wooed us that summer: the brashness of manager Davey Johnson who predicted domination; Keith Hernandez’s leadership, a nifty glove and timely bat; the captaincy of Gary Carter that put the team over the top; the grit and toughness of Lenny DykstraWally Backman and Ray Knight; the prodigious power of Darryl Strawberry; and, of course, Mookie Wilson.

We’re thankful for Dwight Gooden’s mastery and the K Corner; Sid Fernandez’s overpowering stuff; and the calmness of Ron Darling and Bob Ojeda. We’re thankful for the deepest rotation in franchise history.

We’re thankful the “ball got through Buckner.”

Although they didn’t win, we’re thankful for the World Series runs in 1973, 2000 and 2015. Because, even in defeat, those teams brought thrills, joy and pride.

We’re thankful for so many more stars thrilled us, even if it was for a brief time: Lee Mazzilli and Rusty StaubJon Matlack and Al LeiterJohn Milner and Carlos DelgadoRoger McDowell and Jesse OroscoJohn Stearns and Felix MillanTug McGraw and David ConeHoward Johnson and Edgardo AlfonzoJose Reyes and Daniel MurphyHubie Brooks and John OlerudRey Ordonez and John FrancoDave Kingman and Rickey Henderson.

There are so many. You think of one and another comes to mind.

We’re thankful we got to see Willie Mays one more time in a New York uniform. He wasn’t vintage, but the memories of him were.

We’re thankful Carlos Beltran always busted his butt for us, even playing with a fractured face.

We’re thankful for Johan Santana’s willingness to take the ball and the night he finally gave us a no-hitter.

wright spring

We’re thankful to have a player who embodies the word “class,’’ and that is David Wright. We’re thankful we saw his development from prospect to All-Star. He means so much to us that we hurt when he hurts.

We’re thankful the game’s greatest hitting catcher, Mike Piazza, thought so much of his time here that he chose to wear a Mets’ cap into the Hall of Fame. There’s no greater honor a player can give to his city and fan base.

We’re thankful for the great rotations we’ve had, and for the future of the rotation we have now: Matt HarveyJacob deGromNoah SyndergaardSteven Matz and Zack Wheeler. They give us dreams.

We’re thankful for scintillating moments veteran journeymen pitchers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon gave us. They gave us a chance to win every fifth day.

We’re thankful for Citi Field, one of baseball’s jewel stadiums. Hopefully, it will bring us the great moments Shea Stadium did.

We’re thankful for so many great plays, from Jones’ catch to end the `69 Series to the plays made by Agee and Swoboda that year. … For Staub playing with a busted shoulder in `73, and, Endy Chavez’s catch in the 2006 NLCS.

We’re thankful for the summer Yoenis Cespedes gave us in 2015 and wonder if he’ll be back for more.

We’re thankful for the enduring pictures and images spun by the words of Bob MurphyRalph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson. We’re thankful for Kiner’s stories and malapropos; Nelson’s sports coats and the soothing voice of Murph, especially after that win over the Phillies: “and the Mets win it … They win the damn thing.”

We’re thankful for that great broadcasting team, and the one we have now in Gary, Keith and Ron. We’re thankful Gary Cohen is staying.

We’re thankful for the voices when we’re in our cars or grilling on the deck: Howie Rose and Josh Lewin bring us to the game.

We’re thankful for so many memories and for the memories to come.

Yes, with Thanksgiving gone and Christmas approaching, the Mets give us so many reasons to be thankful. Not the least of which is hope for 2017.

To see more of John’s writing check out the New York Mets Report

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Humiliation Macho: Dolphins, Mets, and the Pale Blue Line of Cowardly Male Sports Culture Fri, 08 Nov 2013 14:00:49 +0000 Photo by @nymets

Photo by @nymets

Multiple choice question: What’s the worst, lowest, most humiliating thing you can call a professional athlete in a modern-day locker room?

1. Gay.

2. Girl.

3. N****r.

4. All of the above.

If you answered “4″ we have a lovely Jordany Valdespin T-shirt for you, a real beauty with the logos of both the Mets and Pirates on it, a veritable collector’s item commemorating one of the slimiest moments in recent Mets history, when the team outsourced its discipline to an opposing pitcher. As an added bonus, you’ll get a Richie Incognito poster autographed by Terry Collins and 90 percent of all professional coaches who adopt the lame, pass-the-buck motto of “what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room” currently on such hideous, nauseating display in Miami. Act now, and we’ll throw in authentic baseball cards of Mets rookies forced by tradition – and their knuckle-dragging “veteran” peers – to dress up as women because….you know…nothing’s more humiliating than being female.

Male sports culture is at a low ebb, and quite frankly it’s drifting rapidly away from a quickly liberalizing society that increasingly values diversity and tolerance. In doing so, that culture is telling every young millennial sports fan with a few dollars to spend to go someplace else. For every mongo from the suburbs who relishes his lost high school years as a bully and digs the humiliation of women, homosexuals, and minorities there are many others who love athletic competition and the pageantry of sport – but who will recoil instinctively from a testosterone soaked puddle of intolerance.

There is a line from the disgraceful treatment of a teammate by the now-toxic Incognito (who will probably never put an NFL uniform on again) through to the lame sticking of rookies with exorbitant steak house dinners to the pathetic “tradition” teams like your New York Mets have of engaging in gender-based humiliation and hazing programs – approved by management – to show the rookies what “The Show” is really all about. The message is clear: this is a male culture that prefers the old ways, and we’ll keep it that way.

In the end, it’s cowardice, I think. Teammates rally around the player accused of bullying, and blame the victim. Players defend “traditions” as part of the game, and uphold the “unwritten rules” that places flamboyant young performers like Valdespin and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig in the crosshairs of coach potato traditionalists, who call sports radio talk shows to blather on about men being men, boys being boys. Voices who talk a big game on Francesa’s show (and kudos to the big fellow for taking a strong stand), living out some fantasy of macho male dominance in a changing world they don’t know how to cope with.

The teams and their culture are deeply misguided. But you know the standard language as well as I do:

Marlon Byrd: “The Pirates did what you were supposed to do. They just sent a message that you don’t do that.”

Terry Collins: “I don’t care what the fans think. This is the big leagues. It’s a big-man’s game.”

LaTroy Hawkins: “He showed absolutely no respect. If you’re going to pimp it, you’re going to suffer the consequences.”

Roger McDowell: “Are you guys a homo couple or a threesome?”

Richie Incognito: “(I’m going to) slap your (expletive) mouth. (I’m going to) slap your real mother across the face (laughter)….wassup, you half n—– piece of (expletive).”

Antrel Rolle: “I think the other guy [Martin] is just as much to blame because he’s allowed it to happen….You know, at this level, you’re a man. You’re not a little boy. You’re not a freshman in college. You’re a man.”

Tyson Clabo: ”What’s perceived is that Richie is this psychopath racist, and the reality is Richie was a pretty good teammate.”

See the pattern there? Martin should have stuck up for himself against hazing – but remember when Valdespin did that when his shirt was torn up, and how that was portrayed? Knuckle under, young man. The culture demands it. Be a man about it.

Grantland’s Brian Phillips has this exactly right, but I’d extend his analysis to all pro sports, not just football:

I love football — it’s so much fun, it’s beautiful, it’s thrilling, it’s an excuse to drunk-tweet in the mid-afternoon — but it has also become the major theater of American masculine crackup. It’s as if we’re a nation of gentle accountants and customer-service reps who’ve retained this one venue where we can air-guitar the berserk discourse of a warrior race.

All this clubhouse hazing, this macho posturing, this humiliation and gender-bashing should simply end. As fans, we pay to watch a competition in a sport that we love. I don’t care about hazing rituals at all, and I don’t think they make teams play better ball in any way.

And then there’s this thought for a rainy November day: who the hell wants to see Noah Syndergaard in drag next season any way?

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The Magic Is Back… Again… Mon, 30 Sep 2013 12:00:57 +0000 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.


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.

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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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This Day In Mets Infamy With Rusty: The “All Time Mets Scrub Team” Edition Sun, 15 Sep 2013 14:27:38 +0000 sad mets bench

With the loss in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader with the Miami Marlins, the Mets clinched their 5th straight losing season. This shouldn’t come as a shock since it has happened many times in the past - from the newly minted team of the ’60′s to the “Franchiseless” Mets of the late ’70′s and early ’80′s. Hell even the teams from the Mid ’90s as well as the ’02-’04 seasons were exercises in futility. So I figured I would try to compile the All Scrub Mets Team that encompasses players from all these eras – except from the ’60′s because lets face it 99% of the men that played for those Mets teams were either past their prime – or never had a prime to go past.

So without further ado…

My All Time Mets Scrub Team 

Manager: Jeff Torborg – He was a winning manager during his tenure with the Chicago White Sox, but  I don’t know if it was the expensive payroll of stars ( one of the most expensive payrolls at the time ) or that he melted under the bright lights of New York, but he barely lasted one and a half seasons as the skipper of a sinking ship.

Catcher: Alex Trevino – He was a both offensively and defensively challenged behind and at the plate.

First Base: Mike Jorgenson – Before returning to the Mets in the early ’80′s Mike had been a serviceable reserve outfielder/ first baseman.

Second Base: Luis Castillo – If you find yourself asking why he is on this list you are obviously not a Mets fan.

Shortstop: Frank Taveras – He was your prototypical no hit/all glove infielder. He had speed ( leading the Mets with triples in ’80 ) but he really never got on base enough to flash it.

Third Base: Jim Fregosi – We traded Nolan Ryan for him. He sucked. ‘Nuff Said !

Outfield: Jason Bay – See Luis Castillo.

Outfield: Juan Samuel  - For some reasons not known to man nor beast, then Mets General Manager, Frank Cashen traded Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell to the Phillies for second baseman, Samuel. The Mets tried to convert him to an everyday centerfielder. Guess what – they failed.

Outfield: Vince Coleman – File him under “Never sign a player that is a Mets killer” because they will continue to kill the Mets – from the inside!

Starting Rotation:

The luckless Anthony Young

The Charismatic Jose Lima – too bad he concentrated more on his ” Lima Time” slogan than actually pitching effectively.

The Past his prime Mike Torrez.

The pitcher that obviously didn’t want to be here, Mickey Lolich.

And rounding out the starting rotation – Oliver Perez (See Luis Castillo)


The ineffective Doug Sisk.

The lead blower, Rich Rodriguez – I still maintain that the only reason why he wasn’t released by the Mets is because he was a friend of then G.M, Steve Phillips from their minor league days.

Ineffective reliever from the early ’80′s. Mark “Bombs Away” Bomback.

Another man who couldn’t hold a lead – even if it was glued to his hand – Ryota Igarashi.

Two words that should send a shiver down your spine Guillermo Mota.

And lest we forget, Luis Ayala.

The closer spot is a tough one since the Mets had many men who were not able to put out the fire and save the game, so by default I went with Braden Looper. Yes Looper was playing through injuries in his last season with the Mets, but he still blew the lead in important games when he was healthy – he didn’t have the killer instinct.


The light hitting David Newhan.

The light hitting Dan Norman.

The couldn’t get a hit to save his life Ron Hodges.

And the weak hitting Gary Rajsich

So there is my list… Do you agree/disagree? Who would you add or omit ? Please give your lists in the comments section below.

And with that said….. HERE COMES THE INFAMY !!!!!!

Mets alumni celebrating a birthday today include:

Charley Smith would have been 76 (1937) today

One of the most ineffective middle relievers ever to wear a Mets uniform, John Pacella is 57  (1956). In Pacella’s 3 seasons with the Mets he compiled a 3-6 record with a ERA of 4.83 in 104.1 innings.

Middle reliever from the ’02 season, Satoru Komiyama is 48 (1965).

Middle reliever from the ’91 season, Doug Simons turns 47 (1966).

Utility infielder from ’96-’97, Jason Hardtke is 42 (1971).

Some other notables include:

The  New York Mets traded  minor league pitching prospects, Shane Young and Jeff Richardson to the California Angels for  reliever, John Candelaria on September 15, 1987. The Brooklyn born “Candy Man” was once one of the most dominant closers in the game. But by the time he was obtained by the Mets he was well past his prime.

The movie character that Mo Vaughn wishes he could be  is Pizza the Hut from “Spaceballs” !!!!


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Bobby Parnell: Our Savior Has Arrived! Mon, 20 May 2013 14:20:07 +0000 bobby parnell

On Sunday, Bobby Parnell notched his sixth save of the season, recording the final three outs of the Mets’ 4-3 victory over the Cubs.  With the save, Parnell now has 20 in his six-year career with the Mets.  Now that may not seem like much, but it does give Parnell a special title.

Tell me, my fellow Mets fans.  Do you know which homegrown Met has the most saves in team history?  That would be Tug McGraw, who had 86 saves in a Mets uniform.  (Jesse Orosco, who had 107 saves in Flushing, made his major league debut with the Mets, but was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins and made his professional debut in their minor league system.)

McGraw is followed by Roger McDowell (84 saves), Neil Allen (69 saves), Randy Myers (56 saves), Doug Sisk (33 saves), Bob Apodaca (26 saves), Danny Frisella (24 saves) and Parnell.

Did you notice that all of the homegrown relievers ahead of Parnell pitched for the Mets exclusively in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s?  When Randy Myers was traded for John Franco after the 1989 season, that began a nearly quarter century stretch in which the Mets went with closers whom they traded for or signed as free agents.

First it was John Franco (acquired from Cincinnati).  Then it was Armando Benitez (acquired from Baltimore).  Benitez was followed by Braden Looper (free agent signing), Billy Wagner (free agent signing), Francisco Rodriguez (free agent signing) and Frank Francisco (yup, another free agent signing).  During that 20-plus year stretch, homegrown pitchers were used to close games primarily when the incumbent closer needed a day of rest or was on the disabled list.

So since the departure of Randy Myers following the 1989 campaign, which homegrown pitchers have registered the most saves for the Mets?  Here is the top three list:

  1. Bobby Parnell (20 saves)
  2. Anthony Young (18 saves)
  3. Aaron Heilman (9 saves)

The only homegrown pitchers to record at least ten career saves for the Mets since Randy Myers’ last season in New York are Anthony Young and Bobby Parnell.  Young is also the only homegrown closer since 1990 to record an individual season of more than seven saves when he saved 15 games in 1992 – the same year he began his major league-record 27-game losing streak.

Bobby Parnell has been given the closer duties by manager Terry Collins.  He is the first homegrown pitcher since 1989 to earn that responsibility out of spring training.  And he is now the team’s all-time saves leader for homegrown pitchers since that year.

The Mets have not developed many closers over the past quarter century, choosing to bring in closers from other teams.  Bobby Parnell is finally getting a chance to become the next Tug McGraw, Roger McDowell or Randy Myers.  If he succeeds, he stands to join those pitchers as the best homegrown closers in franchise history.

Our ninth inning savior has finally arrived!  And his name is Bobby Parnell.  It sure is nice to see a familiar face on the mound in the ninth inning instead of a recruit from another team.

This is a scene that very few homegrown pitchers have been able to repeat.

This is a scene that very few homegrown closers have been able to repeat.

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Prima Donnas and Clubhouse Chemistry: A Met Perspective Sat, 18 May 2013 13:00:17 +0000 If Shakespeare were to write a play about the state of the Mets these days, it would probably be titled “Much Ado About Valdespin” as that’s about all anyone has to talk about outside of the largely dismal performance of the team between the lines. Inasmuch as the role young number 1 plays on the team is largely limited to that of utility player/pinch hitter, I wonder if the fuss being kicked up over his various perceived misbehaviors is not out of proportion to the relative importance he has to the team. Not that he is without talent-we all are tantalized by his speed, occasional power, and penchant for heroics, but the holes in his game are gaping enough to justify only judicious use of his presence in the lineup. Add in to this equation the somewhat larger-than-life aspects of his personality and you have a recipe for clubhouse controversy as testified to by the recent statement by seasoned veteran LaTroy Hawkins.

jeff kentSo, just how important is the ingredient of clubhouse chemistry to the relative success of a team? My feeling is that the degree of significance is in opposite proportion to the on-field success of the player involved. One former Met whose flinty personality rubbed people the wrong way everywhere he played was Jeff Kent, yet his undeniable offensive prowess (in more ways than one, I guess) led to a HOF-caliber career which included several seasons in the same lineup as Barry Bonds, no paragon of social niceties himself. In retrospect, the Mets trade of Kent for Carlos Baerga was a total clunker as Kent’s level of production exploded to All-Star level just as Baerga’s went into the tank. But at the time, Baerga was an All-Star who was younger than Kent and who carried none of the baggage associated with Kent, whose primary offense in a Met uniform was refusing to participate in a rookie ritual that involved wearing a ridiculous outfit for a team trip.

Team management saw the opportunity to swap a player they saw as having a somewhat negative effect on team harmony for a proven performer and they went for it. History has shown this to be one in a litany of bad trades that Met fans would just as soon forget, but you can’t argue with the logic at the time.  Add to this the fact that Indians management saw nothing wrong with spinning Kent off in the trade that landed him in San Francisco (where stardom followed) and you can’t really jump on poor Joe McIvaine’s case too hard. Once in Giant livery, Kent reeled off a string of tremendous seasons that culminated in arguably one of the greatest careers of any second baseman in MLB history. But he was still regarded as a major-league prick. I guess most teams would have put up with that aspect of his game as long as the rest of it was intact.

Another interesting chapter in the DSM of Metdom involved one Randall K. Myers and wunderkind batsman Gregg Jefferies. Jefferies, as you undoubtedly recall, was perhaps the most heralded Mets hitting prospect ever outside of Darryl Strawberry. Fans were regaled with tales of his incredible switch-hitting talents, honed through a variety of batting drills such as the semi-weird “swinging underwater in a pool” routine that the sports press of the time delighted in recounting. Upon his arrival, young Gregg looked to be the real thing, ripping off an impressive month at the end of the 1988 season and challenging the team to find a way to fit him into the same infield as Howard Johnson, the incumbent at Jefferies preferred position of third base.

gregg jefferiesAfter shifting the rookie across the diamond to second, the team received satisfactory offensive performance from him over the next two seasons, including a league leading 40 doubles in 1990. But prior to that campaign, the team had seen fit to trade Myers, a fireballing lefty reliever, to the Reds for his veteran counterpart and future Mets Hall-of-Famer John Franco. Not a terrible swap in retrospect, but at the time many wondered why the Mets would exchange a talent of Myers’ ilk for a player two years older who relied primarily on a deceptive change-up as an out pitch. The role of closer was one that most felt was better served by the blazer of young Randall K., and so inquiries as to the motivation of management with respect to the trade were made.

Revelations were forthcoming to the effect that the clubhouse friction between Myers and Jefferies was such that it was deemed best for all concerned to “keep ‘em separated,” to borrow a song lyric. Jefferies had been noted as being especially fussy about his bats and other equipment, and had garnered a reputation as a bit of a prima donna due to his helmet flinging episodes following strikeouts. Following reports that Myers had conspired with fellow bullpen denizen Roger McDowell to saw several of Jefferies bats in half and perhaps bring the youngster down a peg or two, it was made clear that the front office preferred to remove elements of controversy from the clubhouse. The element chosen was the self-styled cowabunga warrior Myers, a change that management hoped would help the more sensitive Jefferies flourish.  He did, ultimately, making the All-Star team and challenging for a batting title in 1993-for the St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to that, he had been part of the trade package put together to bring Bret Saberhagen to New York after his various peccadilloes had become less bearable in light of his merely competent level of production.

Another notorious bête noire of Met clubhouse history was former first-rounder Lastings Milledge whose escapades are still relatively fresh in the mind of the average Met fan. Now consigned to showing up opponents and teammates in Japan, the young Mr. Milledge arrived in 2006 with a reputation for trouble already established but with his talent still largely a promise of things to come. After two seasons in the Orange and Blue, he was sent packing to Washington for Ryan Church and Brian Schneider, worthy enough role players but lacking any star power of the type hinted at by some aspects of Milledge’s game.  When his potential for stardom failed to materialize after that, he drifted to Pittsburgh, then on to the south side of Chicago before opting for the Far East. Still only 28, he may have finally found himself as a player with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. One can only hope that he has overcome the habits that lead to the posting of the infamous “Know Your Place, Rook” sign in his locker by Met teammate Billy Wagner.

A more unusual aspect of the “player as clubhouse distraction” syndrome was noted during the 2004 and 2005 seasons when Anna Benson, the wife of the contrastingly low-key Met pitcher Kris Benson, arrived on the scene.  The combination of Mrs. Benson’s startlingly frank pronouncements on virtually everything with behavior such as appearing as a va-va-voom version of “Mrs. Claus” at the Met annual Christmas charity function combined to lead to a trade with Baltimore sending her husband out of town after a season and a half. That the male Benson’s apparent talent level was that of an eminently replaceable back-of-rotation starter probably contributed to his exit as well. Had he displayed more in the way of dominant pitching skills, the team’s tolerance for the more “colorful” aspects of his spouse’s persona might have been greater.

So, what of the Mets’ current bad boy? I expect that as long as whatever contributions he makes on the field outweigh the perceived negative effect of his extra-curricular antics, he will stick around. At this point, the team hasn’t done a lot to enhance his trade value anyway.  Considering the organization’s history though, I imagine that if circumstances conspire to raise his baseball value in the estimation of any general manager not named Alderson, he could be on his way somewhere in the relatively near future. Maybe someone will be enticed to take him for a “’Spin?”

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Memorable Mets Moments: Jesse and Roger in the Outfield Wed, 10 Apr 2013 17:28:35 +0000 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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Believe It Or Not… Mets Edition Thu, 25 Mar 2010 19:21:27 +0000 Shannon Shark of Mets Police came across another one of those all too familiar big bloopers from the Mets front office, who continue to maintain a stronghold on their title of “The Most Inept Front Office In Baseball”.

Take a look at one of the newest additions to the Mets Fan Walk for the 2010 season…

Looks fantastic huh?

Over a dozen of these brand new Fan Bricks honoring some of the greatest and most memorable moments in Mets history have been added to the newly expanded Fanwalk at Citi Field.

Finally the Mets are showing some much needed love to… well the Mets…

One problem though, and it’s a big one…

This particular fan brick which recognizes the Mets Game 7 win in the 1986 World Series has Sid Fernandez as the winning pitcher, when it was actually Roger McDowell who was the winning pitcher in that unforgettable game.

I know it’s been a long time since the Mets last won a World Series, but has it been so long that the front office actually forgot something as significant as the game seven wining pitcher?

Poor Roger McDowell… the Mets’ all-time biggest prankster finally got one pulled on him…

Seriously though, what a terrible job… Doesn’t anybody proofread these things before they are given the okay to create them?

Shame on you guys….

Incidentally, for a look at many of the other new features at Citi Field, check out this link to johnql’s photobucket stream.

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Awesome Retro Mets YouTube Clip…. Wed, 11 Nov 2009 05:03:18 +0000 A friend passed this clip along to me way back in April, and I was going to write about it then, but never got around to it.  Well, now that it’s the off season and we are all stewing in the aftermath of another failed Mets’ season, I thought it would be a good time to share this for a good laugh as well as a good feeling of ’86 nostalgia.

The clip is from 1986 when the Mets were getting prepared to take on the Red Sox in the World Series, and features MTV’s Martha Quinn interviewing two very boyish looking Mets in Roger McDowell and Lenny Dykstra (we all know too well now how sad Dykstra’s life has become).  I love it when Quinn asks Dykstra what band he’d like to be in and who he likes, and he says with his trademark lisp, “Huey Lewis” and “The Rolling Stones” before then telling Quinn he likes her better.  Smooth, Lenny, way smooth. McDowell, for the record, likes Level 42 and Mike & The Mechanics.  Man, how ’80′s are those bands?

Then they show the video for “Let’s Go Mets,” that song I remember all too well…I remember feeling so pumped up hearing that song even as the Mets had just lost to Roger Clemens in Game 5 and were down 3-2 in the Series.

Anyway, enjoy the video…..because us Mets fans sure could use a laugh these days….

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