Mets Merized Online » Ted Williams http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 01 Mar 2015 00:41:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn Dies of Cancer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/hall-of-famer-tony-gwynn-dies-of-cancer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/06/hall-of-famer-tony-gwynn-dies-of-cancer.html/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 16:48:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=158707 TONY GWYNN

The San Diego Padres announced that Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn has died at age 54 following a battle with salivary gland cancer.

Gwynn amassed 3,141 hits in his brilliant career and his .338 career batting average is the highest since Ted Williams retired from the Boston Red Sox in 1960 with a .344 average.

Gwynn won a record eight National League batting titles while hitting .300 or better for 19 consecutive seasons. He also played in San Diego’s two World Series appearances and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007..

He retired in 2001 and later coached for San Diego State University.

“We are terribly sad to say goodbye to our teammate, our friend and a legend, Tony Gwynn,” the San Diego Padres posted on Twitter. “Rest in peace, Mr. Padre.”

This is such sad news. Gwynn is one of the all time greats and I loved watching him play the game. He will be missed by a great many.

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Lessons In Latin America: A Brief Mexican History http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-mexican-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/lessons-in-latin-america-a-brief-mexican-history.html/#comments Sun, 12 Jan 2014 15:18:56 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=138990 adrian-gonzales

Mexican Baseball has been dwindling as of late due to the factor of Soccer being the more popular sport. As of April 1st, 2013, 14 different players from Mexico were on Major League Rosters. However, while Soccer is the national pastime of Mexico, they have a deep history in baseball as well. Some claim that Mexico’s baseball history started in Mazatlan in 1847, while others claim it was in other towns in 1887 or 1889.

The argument for 1847, which to me is believable, is that the Americans were trying to take control of Mexico, during the Mexican-American war. Like other histories, it makes sense that American armies shared baseball with the population they came to conquer, (Panama and Nicaragua are two other examples of Americans bringing in Baseball through military conquest).

The laying of the Monterrey-Tampico Railway played a large part in spreading the sport. As the railroad was being developed, so was the sport in Mexico during the 1800’s. While the sport spread, the professional leagues started much later, in 1925, when Alejandro Aguilar Reyes, a sportswriter, and Ernesto Carmona founded the Mexican Professional Baseball Leagues. During that time, they had six teams, and to bring in other talent, they started hiring Cuban players too dark for the majors to come into play in the league.

In the 1940s, Jorge Pasquel attempted to transform the Mexican major leagues into a larger arena. He started to hire prominent players from all over the place, including many Negro League stars, Cubans as before, and even brought in Major Leaguers into the mix to play. Orestes “Minnie” Minoso recalled, that he was offered $35,000 at 17 to play in the Mexican Leagues.

American ballplayers such as Max Linnear played in the Mexican Leagues as well while Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams refused. But, the American Major League administration was not as keen on sharing their players with Mexico, because of the lucrative deals that were luring them away. The apparent hi-jacking of the sport away from the Americans displeased even Branch Rickey, and Happy Chandler, the commissioner, decided to start banning the players that were signed from Major league teams for 5 years from baseball. This new rule made the Mexican League crumble, and Jorge Pasquel died in 1955.

With the league crumbling, Mexico’s new manager, Anuar Canavati worked out deals later with Major League Baseball as a minor-league option for teams, and also an option as a place to play in the winter for their Major League and Minor League stars going forward. It also became a place for scouts to look for up-and-coming Mexican players, and later recruit them to their teams. Canavati saved the league from completely falling apart at the hands of Major League Baseball.

Presented By Diehards

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Sometimes The Best Trades You Make… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/sometimes-the-best-trades-you-make.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/sometimes-the-best-trades-you-make.html/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 18:56:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139001 Ike DavisDespite the seemingly non-stop buzz surrounding the Mets’ attempts to trade Ike Davis, something tells me that if they fail to consummate a swap, it may turn out to be the best overall result. Power, as we have been reminded repeatedly, has become a progressively scarcer resource throughout baseball since the tide of steroid use has receded.

The Met organization has never been a particularly plentiful source of longball threats in the course of its draft history, so when events conspire to produce an actual 30+ homer threat of the home-grown variety, you would think that the managerial mind trust would be loathe to part with that asset, ugly stretches of non-production or not.

And yet, here we are with Ike Davis being basically hawked to all comers like a Sham-Wow despite representing what a team like the Mets generally looks for: a relatively young power threat coming into his prime years, under team control, and looking to prove that he belongs. Wildly inconsistent or not, based on the additional factor of defense and the likely in-house alternatives, doesn’t Ike represent the best chance for this team to field the type of power threat generally associated with his position?

A few other factors suggest to me that selling low on Ike at this point could be a major mistake. One would be his almost extreme selectivity last season upon returning to the big club from his Vegas exile. While many decried his seeming transformation into a high OBP, low power type as evidence of a lack of aggressiveness, we can certainly contrast it with the early-season version of Ike who swung at nearly everything and see it as a stage in the evolution of a more polished hitter. Lest we forget, Ted Williams always emphasized the importance of getting a good pitch to hit, and while I am not suggesting that Ike is about to morph into the second coming of the Splinter, I would say that we should take his emphasis on improving his pitch recognition as a good sign.

Another factor that should enter into this picture is the addition of Curtis Granderson to the lineup and the clubhouse. While Granderson’s high strikeout totals are nothing to look to emulate, his consistent ability to produce hard-hit, long fly balls (which will likely clear the fences with less regularity in Citi Field), still reflects the approach of a hitter with a plan, something that could very well rub off on the Met first-sacker. Add in Curtis’ sunny disposition and you have a formula for a mentor that may be able to get through to the notoriously stubborn Davis.

Finally, with Ike entering his age 27 season this year, he will be at the age when many players begin to hit their stride and hopefully enter a period of peak production. With the Mets showing signs of emerging from their long dark tunnel, but still perceived to have a ways to go to achieving something other than purely Dark Horse status, rolling the dice one more time on Ike and his frustration-producing “potential” would seem a reasonable thing to do. I’m actually rooting for it.

Presented By Diehards

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Mike Piazza One Of Many All-Time Great Players Never To Win A World Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazza-one-of-many-all-time-great-players-never-to-win-a-world-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazza-one-of-many-all-time-great-players-never-to-win-a-world-series.html/#comments Thu, 26 Sep 2013 13:17:23 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130058 mike piazza

Is it not really known why society loves to classify everything into black and white? Maybe it’s just easier to minimize everything down into it’s most simplistic form. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of major league baseball players have never played in a World Series, let alone win one.

Some of the best players in the history of the game never won a World Series, are these all time greats still considered winners, or losers? If nothing else, it does go to show just how much of a team game baseball really is. With that being said, who do you believe are the best player to never win a World Series at each position?

Should I acknowledge the elephant in the room and point out that Barry Bonds has never won a ring?

Some people are willing to look past his tainted past to give him credit as one of the best hitters of all time… myself? Not so much.

On the topic of sluggers, however, you can look down the line at Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey, two other greats who each failed to win a World Series.

S

You could look at a couple of players from this current era, whatever it is you choose to call this era, and you’ll find Ken Griffey Jr.. and Mike Piazza, my two favorite players in MLB history, who also fell short of that ultimate glory.

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell? Yep, they never got sized up for rings either. And if your interest happens to be pitchers, what about Gaylord Perry or Don Sutton? And do I even need a segue into mention the likes of Ty Cobb and Ted Williams? Believe it.

I wondered if I could make an All-Star team based on players that never won a World Series. How’s this for a team that never won baseball’s greatest achievement – a World Championship?

C : Mike Piazza

1B: Willie McCovey

2B: Nap Lajoie

3B: Ron Santo

SS: Ernie Banks

OF: Ty Cobb, Ted WilliamsKen Griffey Jr.

SP: Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins, Early Wynn, Robin Roberts

RP: Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman 

Bench: George Sisler, Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Ralph Kiner, Ryne Sandberg, Nellie Fox, Barry Bonds.

ted williams

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Who Were The Best Players Never To Win A World Series? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/who-were-the-best-players-never-to-win-a-world-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/who-were-the-best-players-never-to-win-a-world-series.html/#comments Sun, 25 Aug 2013 13:00:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127801 Grimsley

There are bad ways to win and good ways to lose. What’s interesting and troubling is that it’s not always clear which is which. — Grimsley, Pokemon

Is it not really known why humans love to classify everything into black and white categories? Maybe it’s just easier to minimize everything down into it’s most simplistic form. When it comes down to it, the vast majority of major league baseball players have never played in a World Series, let alone win one. Some of the best players in the history of the game never won a World Series, are these all time greats still considered winners, or losers? If nothing else, it does go to show just how much of a team game baseball really is. With that being said, who do you believe are the best player to never win a World Series at each position?

Should I acknowledge the elephant in the room and point out that Barry Bonds has never won a ring?

Some people are willing to look past his tainted past to give him credit as one of the best hitters of all time… myself? Not so much.

On the topic of sluggers, however, you can look down the line at Harmon Killebrew and Willie McCovey, two other greats who each failed to win a World Series.

S

You could look at a couple of players from this current era, whatever it is you choose to call this era, and you’ll find Ken Griffey Jr.. and Mike Piazza, my two favorite players in MLB history, who also fell short of that ultimate glory.

Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell? Yep, they never got sized up for rings either. And if your interest happens to be pitchers, what about Gaylord Perry or Don Sutton? And do I even need a segue into mention the likes of Ty Cobb and Ted Williams? Believe it.

I wondered if I could make an All-Star team based on players that never won a World Series. How’s this for a team that never won baseball’s greatest achievement – a World Championship?

C : Mike Piazza

1B: Willie McCovey

2B: Nap Lajoie

3B: Ron Santo

SS: Ernie Banks

OF: Ty Cobb, Ted WilliamsKen Griffey Jr.

SP: Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Fergie Jenkins, Early Wynn, Robin Roberts

RP: Lee Smith, Trevor Hoffman 

Bench: George Sisler, Harmon Killebrew, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Ralph Kiner, Ryne Sandberg, Nellie Fox, Barry Bonds.

ted williams

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This Week In Baseball: Doc Becomes Youngest 20 Game Winner, Yanks Release Rizzuto http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-week-in-baseball-doc-becomes-youngest-20-game-winner-yanks-release-rizzuto.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/this-week-in-baseball-doc-becomes-youngest-20-game-winner-yanks-release-rizzuto.html/#comments Sun, 25 Aug 2013 04:04:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=127809 dwight-gooden

AUGUST 25:

1922: Leading 25-6 after 4 innings, the Cubs hold on to beat the Phillies, 26-23. The Phillies left the bases loaded in the ninth. The 49 total runs is the most ever scored in a single game.

1956: The Yankees pick up Enos Slaughter off waivers and in turn give an unconditional release to fan favorite Phil Rizzuto.

1983: The Louisville Redbirds (AAA-Cardinals) become the first minor league team to draw one million fans.

1985: At 20 years, 9 months and 9 days, Dwight Gooden becomes the youngest pitcher in history to win 20 games.

1986: With a prodigious blast off Detroit’s Walt Terrell, a rookie named Mark McGwire hits his first major league home run.

1997: Boston’s Nomar Garciaparra gets a hit in his 27th straight game, setting a record for AL rookies.

2005: With a 6-3 victory over the Pirates, Cardinals skipper Tony LaRussa wins his 2195th game, passing Sparky Anderson for third all-time. The only managers with more wins are Connie Mack (3731) and John McGraw (2763)

AUGUST 26:

1898: The Cleveland Spiders play their final home game of the year. Nicknamed ‘The Nomads,’ the Cleveland club plays 83 of their final 87 games on the road.

1939: At Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NBC televises the first Major League game in history. Red Barber does the play-by-play as the Dodgers and Reds split a double-header.

1947: Dan Bankhead of Brooklyn becomes the first black pitcher in history. He homered in his first plate appearance that day, but allowed six earned runs.

1961: Roger Maris hits home run # 51, putting him ahead of Babe Ruth‘s record setting pace.

1965: After defeating the Mets in 13 straight starts, Sandy Koufax (21-7) loses to Tug McGraw (2-2).

1966: Vic Roznovsky and Boog Powell of Baltimore hit back-to-back pinch hit HR’s. It’s only the third time in history this has happened.

1980: At County Stadium in Milwaukee, Royals third baseman George Brett goes 5-for-5 and raises his BA to 407.

1987: The longest hitting streak in the AL since Joe DiMaggio‘s in 1941 comes to an end at 39 when Paul Molitor fails to get a hit. Ironically, Molitor was on-deck when the final out of the game was made.

2002: The first video streaming coverage of a baseball game appears on the Internet. The Yankees defeat the Rangers, 10-3.

2002 — New York shortstop Derek Jeter scored his 100th run of the season, joining Ted Williams (1939-49) and Earle Combs (1925-32) as the only players in modern history to score at least 100 runs in their first seven seasons.

AUGUST 27:

1911: Future Hall of Famer Ed Walsh of Chicago no-hits Boston, 5-0.

1918: Christy Mathewson, now retired, steps down as manager of the Reds and accepts the role of Captain in the US Army. While serving in World War I, Matty is accidentally gassed during a training exercise resulting in his premature death in 1925, at age 45.

1938: Monte Pearson tosses the first no-hitter in Yankee Stadium, a 13-0 win over Cleveland.

1946: At the annual Owners Meeting, the owners decide to continue ‘The Gentleman’s Agreement’ and ban black athletes from playing in the majors. The ludicrous reasons include that black players display “…an absence of skills necessary…” as well as “…a lack of fundamentals.”

1955: Making only his second start in the majors, a young lefthander named Sandy Koufax defeats the Reds, 7-0. Koufax allows only 2 hits and fans 14.

1974: Benny Ayala of the Mets becomes the first player in 13 years to homer in his first major league at-bat.

1977: Bump Wills and Toby Harrah of Texas hit back-to-back inside the park home runs on back-to-back pitches.

1978: Joe Morgan becomes the first player to reach 200 Home Runs and 500 SB’s.

1982: Rickey Henderson breaks Lou Brock‘s single season SB mark with his 119th swipe of the year. Henderson stole it against the battery of Doc Medich/Ted Simmons…on a pitch-out.

1997: As a joke, the Indians pull up their socks to just below the knees to celebrate the birthday of teammate Jim Thome. Cleveland would go on to win 17 of their next 27 games and ultimately, the American League pennant.

AUGUST 28:

1884: Mickey Welch of the NY Gothams fans the 1st 9 batters he faces. Welch wins 39 games this year and a total of 307 in a brief 13 year career.

1945: In a secret meeting in Brooklyn, Branch Rickey privately meets with Jackie Robinson and tells him of his plan to integrate the majors. During the long meeting, Rickey will get in Jackie’s face and shout an endless barrage of racial slurs just to ‘test’ the young player and see how Robinson reacts, knowing full well what lies ahead.

1977: Nolan Ryan fans 11 and reaches 300 K’s for the fifth time in his career.

1983: Greg Luzinski, ‘The Bull,’ joins Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as the only players to hit a ball onto the roof of Comiskey Park.

1989: Frank Viola of the Mets defeats Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers, 1-0. It was the first ever regular season match-up of two defending Cy Young Award winners.

Jackie_Robinson_42

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The Curious Case Of PED’s http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/the-curious-case-of-peds.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/08/the-curious-case-of-peds.html/#comments Thu, 08 Aug 2013 21:29:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=126753 gary keith ron sny

With the revelations of the Biogenesis investigation by MLB coming to the forefront this week, just about every sportswriter has put in his or her two cents regarding this story and how performance enhancing drugs plays into professional sports in general.  Even broadcasters are getting into the mix now.  The other night during the Mets/Rockies game, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez touched on the issue in a way that really hasn’t been by most sportswriters.  It doesn’t come as a shock to me since SNY’s Emmy winning team of Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are arguably one of the finer broadcasting teams in professional sports today.

Gary, playing devil’s advocate, described how both sides see the issue of PED’s.  One side taking the majority stance that there’s no place for PED’s in Major League Baseball. The prevalent idea is that if players are found to have used them, heavy consequences should follow, with the ultimate penalty being banishment.  The other side, which I found interesting in how Gary described it, was how some take a more “Libertarian” approach regarding PED’s, stating that if a player is willing to risk his health then it’s on the player.  There was a brief pause when Keith Hernandez, in a rare moment seemed totally engaged in the conversation, chimed in and said as I paraphrase, “You can’t say it’s a matter of being Libertarian if what you’re doing affects others negatively”.

After listening to Hernandez huff and haw all season long when the team would head into extra innings or deal with an unfortunate rain delay, it was nice to see Keith the curmudgeon not chomping on the bit to tell everyone to get off his lawn.  It was a brief moment but one that made me smile and I’m a Libertarian.  The funny thing about Libertarians is that we usually get attacked from all ends of the political spectrum for being what others claim to think we all are.

I’m not saying Gary Cohen was attacking Libertarians so much as he was simply trying to state a point, albeit a bit awkwardly. Not all Libertarians are cut from the same cloth.  Most teeter on the political spectrum depending on the issue – but in the end we all share the same edicts of individual liberty and freedom but, with respect to the law. Libertarians are not Anarchists.  Therein lays the difference between those who say PED’s should be allowed in professional sports and those who disagree, and no it’s not because of arbitrary drug laws.  It’s about fairness.  It’s about the law.  Sometimes laws are in place that we all don’t agree with but, that’s life in a democracy.

steroids peds

The idea of simply taking a drug that could, with the emphasis on could, make you better at what you do for a living is a tempting idea in spite of being morally suspect not to mention with the potential of being physically damaging.  In professional sports, especially Major League Baseball, it’s a misnomer to think that sticking a needle in one’s ass will turn a Felix Millan into a Ted Williams. With stringent drug testing now in place, including testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH), Major League Baseball is now one of the better examples of a professional sport trying to keep itself as clean and legitimate as possible.  How can the quest for legitimacy be a bad thing is beyond me?

When it comes to the use of PED’s in professional sports, many Libertarians, some of which I have a great deal of respect for, have said that PED’s, like other illegal drugs, shouldn’t be banned from professional sports no more than cocaine should be illegal for you or I. Nick Gillespie, the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine and Reason.com, seems to think most sports writers are hyper moralistic on the issue of PED’s as he stated in a recent article regarding Ryan Braun.  I have a feeling that he’s not much of a sports fan especially based on how he views the majority of sports writers. Not well if you read his article.

But with all due respect to Nick Gillespie or even the great Greg Gutfeld, whom I’m told was very disappointed to find out that purple unicorn’s weren’t allowed at Churchill Downs; PED’s affect not just the players that take them.  They also take away jobs from those trying to do it clean.  Take this which was tweeted by former major league pitcher Dan Meyer:

Hey Antonio Bastardo, remember when we competed for a job in 2011. Thx alot. #ahole

So, does this mean Dan Meyer should just shut the hell up, have a Coke and a smile? Should he just tip his cap to Bastardo (yes, that’s really his last name) shake hands and let bygones be bygones?  I’d be just as pissed as Meyer if I were in his shoes. I understand, but not totally agree with the logic that if PED’s and drugs in general weren’t illegal, the stigma which draws people to them in the first place would decline.

Sure in an academic hypothetical arena that may be possible but do I really want my daughter to be able to one day to walk into a 7-11 to buy a Slurpee and have an HGH power bar sitting next to the Twizzlers?  While we’re at it, put the cocaine pixy sticks next to the Sweet Tarts.  Sorry but the old curmudgeon in me says no to such a grand experiment.  I guess I’m not a real Libertarian huh?

The blasé attitude some have regarding allowing PED’s into professional sports stems from the idea that they believe that fans don’t really care how the players do the sometimes incredible feats that they do.  I disagree.  In a perfect world, I don’t even want to have this discussion with my daughter but when and if I do, I want to tell her that her favorite player(s) did it clean.  Let there be a level playing field and then let individual talent take over.  I look at it this way, would you be fine with allowing kids to take their iPads with them while taking their SAT exams?  Fair or unfair; you decide.

People often forget during this whole controversy with these players being caught taking PED’s, that PED’s are illegal unless prescribed by a physician for an actual medical condition, you know like dwarfism.  The last time I checked Eddie Gaedel hasn’t suited up in a few years and if he did I have a feeling Brian Cashman would’ve tendered him a contract by now.

Now get off my lawn!

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There Goes Willie Mays, The Best There Ever Was: Say Hey Kid Turns 82 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/there-goes-willie-mays-the-best-there-ever-was-say-hey-kid-turns-82.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/there-goes-willie-mays-the-best-there-ever-was-say-hey-kid-turns-82.html/#comments Tue, 07 May 2013 13:55:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=117784 williemays-swing - Copy

A member of the SABR once said, “There are 499 ballplayers. And then there’s Willie Mays.”

It was way back in the summer of 1973. Camera Day. I was a few months shy of turning 8 years old. My dad nudged me closer to the railing along the third base line so no grown-ups would block my view. Mets players walked around the warning track, stopping every few feet to smile for the cameras. My dad clicked away on his little Kodak Instamatic. I was just feet away from my Mets. Something I still remember 40 years later.

Tug and Harry Parker rode around on the back of the Mets bullpen cart. Jerry Koosman, void of his cap, stopped within arm’s reach. Lanky Jon Matlack smiled broadly. Cleon Jone carried himself with swagger, looking every part the major leaguer. Rusty Staub carried a teddy bear. Then, an eerie hush, the calm before the storm, came over the crowd. The quietness gave way to a volcanic eruption of cheers and shouts. Carrying a baseball bat as if he was born with it in his hand came # 24.

As game time approached and my dad and I walked to our seats in Loge section 5 along first base, he leaned over and told to remember today. One day I would be able to tell my kids that I saw Willie Mays.

I was 7 years old. All I knew about this guy was that he had once played in New York a long time ago and made some important catch once.
When the topic comes up of who is the greatest to ever play the game, I immediately respond without hesitation: Willie Mays. Ruth didn’t have the speed, Williams didn’t have the glove, Cobb, although he played in the dead ball era, didn’t have the power. The Say Hey Kid didn’t just do it all. He did it better than anyone before or since.

Born May 6, 1931 in Westfield, Alabama, William Howard Mays was taught the game of baseball at age 5. His father, William Howard Taft, named after a US president, played in the Negro Leagues for the local iron plant. His mother was a talented basketball and track star. Willie had the genes.

Attending Fairfield Industrial High, Willie set school records in both basketball and football.

Upon graduating, Willie played for the Birmingham Black Barons. He caught the eye of Bud Maughn, a scout for the Boston Braves. Boston was interested in purchasing Mays. However, they dragged their feet and could not come to an agreement with the Barons. Had the Braves moved quicker, it’s likely that Willie would have been teammates with Hank Aaron.

Brooklyn was also interested in Mays, but by the time they got around to it, he’d already been signed by their crosstown rivals, the hated New York Giants.

There was no Roy Hobbs moment when Willie took the field in 1951. He didn’t knock the cover off the ball in his first AB. As a matter of fact, he went 0-for-his first 12. Then, his first hit came: A towering HR off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. Spahn later joked, “For the first sixty feet, it was a hell of a pitch.”

Willie hit 274-20-68 in 121 games and won the NL Rookie of the Year. It was Mays who was on deck later that season when Bobby Thomson hit ‘the shot heard round the world.’

willie mays catch

The Giants lost the Series in 6 to the Yankees. Mays, along with Monte Irvin and Hank Thomson, were the first all-African-American outfield in baseball history.

After only 127 AB’s the following year, Uncle Sam came calling. Willie was drafted into the Army. He would not return to the majors until 1954. He missed 266 games.

But when he did return in 1954, he returned with a bang. He won his first of 2 MVP’s, hitting a league best 345 along with 41 HR’s. The Giants crushed the heavily favored Indians in 4 straight. The Series is best remembered for Willie’s iconic catch off the bat of Vic Wertz. In what is possibly the most popular image in Baseball history, The Say Hey Kid thus elevated himself to mythical proportions. This was the start of a legend. Modest Willie stated years later, “I don’t compare ‘em. I just catch ‘em.”

It was the last World Series the Giants ever won in New York. The team would not win another until 2010.

That season Willie earned $12,500.

The Giants played 3 more years in NY and over that span, Willie averaged 316, compiled 122 HR’s, 551 hits, 112 XBH, knocked in 308. Oh, and also managed to steal 102 bases.

In 1957, he became a member of the 20-20-20 club. 20 doubles, 20 triples and 20 HR’s. No player has done that since.

Willie Mays was not just a great ballplayer. He was fun, colorful and exciting. He had ‘a lot of little boy in him’ and that showed, both on and off the field. “I like to play happy,” he stated. “Baseball is a fun game. I love it.”

Willie was not only larger than life ON the field but off the field as well. He’d frequently hang out in Harlem, playing stick ball with neighborhood kids. When the Giants moved to San Francisco, he continued the tradition, playing in the sandlots with local kids. He truly was loved coast to coast.

Willie had no trouble winning the hearts of San Francisco fans. His first year out west he hit a career high 347. And although the Giants initially struggled in San Francisco, Willie continued putting up
Hall of Fame numbers.

On April 30, 1961, Mays hit 4 HR’s in a game. He was in the on-deck circle when the final out was recorded.

In 1962 the Giants won a tight pennant race and met the Yankees in the Fall Classic. The Giants lost in a heartbreaking 7 games. Willie hit just 250. He would not appear in another World Series until 1973.

July 2, 1963 is what many claim to be the best baseball game ever played. Two future Hall of Famers, Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn, dueled it out. For 16 innings the game was scoreless. It was like a heavyweight fight between two warriors who refused to go down. In the 16th inning, it was Willie Mays who delivered the knockout blow, hitting a HR and giving SF a 1-0 win.

In turn, this added yet another historical fact to the lore of Mays. He is the only player to hit a HR in every inning, 1 thru 16.

It was 1964. Willie’s friend and teammate Bobby Bonds welcomed a son into the world and named him Barry. He asked Willie to be the newborn’s Godfather.

August 22, 1965 is widely regarded as one of the ugliest days in Baseball history. The Giants and Dodgers were embroiled in a tight pennant race. Tension was high, tempers were short. Things boiled over. Juan Marichal hit Dodgers catcher Johnny Roseboro in the head with a bat. And then all hell broke loose. Red Sox/Yankees had nothing on this. This was not the usual bench clearing brawl where a couple guys tousle and everyone else stands around. This was an all-out war that went on for 14 minutes. Players were bloodied, uniforms shredded. It was Willie along with Sandy Koufax who restored order. Just a few years ago, Marichal stated, “Had Willie and Koufax not ended that, we’d probably still be going at it today.”

The following year, 1965, Willie surpassed another historic milestone. He hit his 500th HR, a blast off of Don Nottebart. When he returned to the dugout he was met by now teammate Warren Spahn. 13 years earlier it was Spahn who gave up Willie’s very first HR. The veteran LHP asked him, “Was it anything like the same feeling?” Willie responded, “Exactly the same feeling. Same pitch, too.”

Shortly after Jerry Koosman got Orioles second baseman Davey Johnson to fly out to left in October 69 and the Mets proved miracles can come true, The Sporting News named Willie Mays ‘The Player of the Decade.’

By early 1972, age was catching up to The Say Hey Kid. The Giants were struggling financially. Owner Horace Stoneham regrettably advised the Giant legend that he could not afford to offer Willie any type of position or financial reward upon his retirement. Enter the Mets.

willie-mays - CopyMets owner Joan Payson had been a minority shareholder for the New York Giants. In the late 50’s, she fought hard to keep them in New York. Payson watched her beloved Giants move 3000 miles away, longing for the day when her adored and cherished Willie Mays would somehow return to New York. That opportunity presented itself now.

Payson saw the chance, fought hard to get Willie back to New York and offered him a coaching position upon retirement. In early May the Mets sent Charlie Williams and $50,000 to Stoneham. The Say Hey Kid was back in New York, just 10 miles away from where the Polo Grounds once stood. And where the legend of Willie Mays was born.

It was a rainy Sunday, May 14, when Willie wore “NY” on his cap for the first time in fifteen years. In the fifth inning of his debut game, Willie, as always, rose to the occasion. He hit a HR that put the Mets ahead to stay. The losing team was, yes, the Giants.

August 17th of the following season, 1973, Mays hit a solo HR off Reds starter Don Gullett. It was # 660, the final one of his illustrious career.

The Mets shocked baseball once again, coming back from the dead and from last place to find themselves battling the A’s in the World Series. At age 42, Willie became the oldest player to appear in the Fall Classic. He got the Mets first hit in the World Series.

Willie only had 7 AB’s against Oakland. He got 2 hits, including the game winner in the 12 inning Game 2. In spite of Willie’s hit tying up the Series, it was a heartbreaking day for fans of the game. And for fans of Willie. He misplayed a routine fly ball, losing it in the glare of the northern California sunlight. Just across the bay from where Willie established himself as the best fielding CF-er of all time, he dropped a fly ball hit directly to him. After the game, he commented, “Growing old is just a helpless hurt.”

In 1979, William Howard Mays was enshrined in Baseball immortality. He was elected to the Hall of Fame with 95% of the vote. Amazingly, 23 sportswriters did not include Mays on their ballot. Caustic New York columnist Dick Young, never at a loss for biting sarcasm, stated, “If Jesus Christ were to show up with his old glove, some guys wouldn’t vote for him. He dropped the cross three times, didn’t he?”

Willie was at or near the top of every offensive category at the time of his retirement. And in spite of the steroid era, smaller stadiums and weaker pitching staffs, he remains a “giant” among the greats: 660 Home Runs (4th), 1903 RBI’s (10th), 3283 hits (11th), 2062 runs (7th), 10881 at-bats, 557 slugging (19th now but 10th at retirement). All this plus a lifetime batting average of 302 and oh yea, 338 Steals, a 77% success rate on the base paths.

As impressive as these stats were and still are today, keep in mind Willie played the bulk of his career in the 1960’s, a decade dominated by pitching and cavernous stadiums.

He was a 2 time MVP winner (1954, 1965). He won a record 12 Gold Gloves for CF, a remarkable feat considering Willie had 6 years under his belt before the award was even created. And the fact that he played in the swirling unpredictable winds of Candlestick Park. His 24 All-Star games tie him for the most mid-summer classics with Stan Musial. In 1999, Mays was chosen as #2 on the Greatest Players of the 20th century, the only living member. He holds the record for 13 straight years playing 150+ games.

In addition to his accolades, Willie, usually bashful, was honest and forthright. He knew he was good. And so did we. Some of his quotes:

“They throw the ball, I hit the ball. They hit the ball. I catch the ball.” “When I’m not hitting, I don’t hit nobody. But when I am, I can hit anybody.” “The game was easy for me.” When asked who he thinks was the best ball player he ever saw, Willie replied with a broad smile. “I think I was the best I ever saw play.”

As much as fans loved seeing him play, he was equally respected and admired by his peers and contemporaries.

Ted Williams: “They invented the All-Star Game for Willie Mays.”

Ted Kluszewski: “I’m not sure what charisma is but I get the feeling it’s Willie Mays.”

Mays’ manager Leo Durocher: “He can hit. He can run. He can field. If he could cook, I’d marry him.”

Reggie Jackson: “You used to think if you were winning 5-0 somehow Mays would find a way to hit a 5 run HR.”

Opposing manager Gil Hodges: “I can’t tell my batters not to hit it to him. Wherever they hit it, he’s there anyway.”

It’s been 4 decades since this little scrawny 7 year-old kid with a front tooth missing was nudged closer to the railing at Shea on Camera Day 1973, trying to see past all the tall grown-ups. It’s been 4 decades since my dad told me to remember the day I saw Willie Mays on a Baseball field. It’s been 4 decades and this little kid is now in his late 40’s. And yes dad, I still remember.

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Nice Guys Finish Last: David Wright’s Decision To Stay http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/nice-guys-finish-last-david-wrights-decision-to-stay.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/05/nice-guys-finish-last-david-wrights-decision-to-stay.html/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 12:20:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=116989 david-wright-300The street I live on is a fairly quiet residential one lane road. Three miles to the south it meanders up into the foothills that look down on the valley. It gives way to an expansive residence, the proverbial mansion on the hill. At night, the home is illuminated in a sea of blackness. There’s nothing close by and the property seems big enough to warrant its own zip code. On many Saturday nights, I will catch a glimpse of stretch limos and even vans taking guests to the manor. Last year, as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney frequented my hometown, on two occasions I saw armor plated limos heading ‘up the hill.’

The owner is obviously wealthy, a multi-millionaire probably hundreds of times over. One thing I can say is that I don’t feel sorry for the guy.

Therefore, why do I feel sorry for another multi-millionaire named David Wright?

This year David will earn $16 million. If he plays every game this season, he will earn in one afternoon more than most of us earn in an entire year: $98,765. If he plays every single inning of every single game, David will make $10,974 per inning! But yet, I actually feel bad for the man.

David’s a stand-up guy. He’s been the face of the franchise for almost a decade now and will continue to be. He’s a clean cut athlete who stays out of trouble and is never caught up in scandalous headlines or PED rumors. He’s the type of ballplayer you can have your kids look up to. After a tough loss, it’s David who sits in front of his locker and patiently answers all the repetitive questions hurled at him from reporters. While most of his teammates head off to the showers and refuse to talk to the media, David does his job by helping the media do theirs.

He has all the similar traits of another much loved and revered Met by the name of Tom Seaver.

David Wright is only 30 and has already solidified his spot as the best all-around hitter in team history. Safe to say, he will break every team record by the time he leaves. He may also surpass Ed Kranepool as the longest tenured Met.

And this past winter, Sandy Alderson, to his credit, did lock up #5 for the long term. While I do applaud Alderson’s decision and thank David for his loyalty to the blue and orange, I still find myself feeling a bit sorry for him. I feel sorry that he drank Alderson’s Kool-Aid.

Athletes, like the rest of us, want to earn as much money as possible. Unlike Mike Hampton, who accepted an exorbitant salary from the Rockies and claimed his reason for going to Colorado was for the better school system, David is a class act.

mets-marlins-baseball - Copy

The Mets GM tells us we are rebuilding. That it will take 3-5 years. By that time, David will be in his mid 30’s, his most productive years behind him. Yes, money is important, but to a professional athlete winning is more important than money. You cant buy a World Series ring.

Ty Cobb, the greatest hitter ever, never got to win a World Series. Ted Williams would have probably given up that .406 in 1941 for even the opportunity to appear in the Fall Classic.

While I applaud David’s loyalty (I never thought he’d stay), I wonder if he regrets his decision. Let’s be honest. No one is expecting a World Series flag flying over Citi Field anytime soon. Hell, no one’s even expecting us to be competitive in the foreseeable future.

I’m reminded of a little known pitcher named Ed Lynch. Lynch was mostly a spot-starter for the hapless Mets in the early 80’s. From 81-85, Lynch tossed 708 IP and posted a respectable 3.74 era. He was a workhorse who was 38-40 for a team that was far under .500. He was here as the Mets rebuilt. He was teammates with the likes of Lee Mazzilli, Hubie Brooks and John Pacella. Lynch was injured coming into the 1986 season and on June 30, after 6 years of service and just 4 months before the Mets won it all, Lynch was traded to the Cubs for the unforgettable Dave Liddell and Dave Lenderman. (who???) Ed Lynch missed all the fun.

Will this same fate meet David Wright? By the time the Mets are competitive, Wright may very well be expendable, his best days behind him.

I also fret about the boo birds. In spite of David’s stellar career and now being named Captain even he has not been without his critics. It’s been implied that he needs to be a leader on the field as well. I, too, would like to see him assume that leadership role, a la Keith Hernandez. But simply, some guys are not made that way. They don’t have that genetic makeup. And that’s not a slam on him. Cooperstown is filled with players who were not ‘team leaders.’ But yet, now that David is making $98,765 per game, will he be unfairly expected to assume that role?

His stats over the last 4 years (09-12)  are still respectable. But they do fall short of the numbers he put up the previous 4 seasons (05-08.)

zzz - CopyAs the Mets “rebuild,” one can’t help but wonder if David’s numbers will continue to suffer. It’s very likely there won’t be anyone at the top of the batting order he can bring home. And very little protection behind him. In 2012, David’s line was 307-21-93. Solid stats. But even if he manages to repeat those respectable numbers, are those the type of stats that, along with not being a team leader, warrant $16 million?

David is a much loved Met. No doubt about that. But as we will stumble our way through another season, as the dog days of summer drag on, as attendance drops and our big battle will be beating Miami to stay out of the cellar, I wonder if Wright may unfairly be booed. It seems like there’s always a fall guy, someone to blame, be it Willie Randolph, Aaron Heilman, coaches, even trainers.

So, to David Wright, I thank you. Thanks for being a stand-up guy. Thanks for remaining loyal to the blue and orange. Thanks for not being all about the money and giving Alderson a chance.

He may wind up like Cobb and never win a World Series. Or Williams and never get to play in one. But hey, think of the bright side. Maybe 20 years from now the #5 will be in a circle on the outfield wall alongside #41.

Maybe…

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Collins: It’s Too Early To Panic About Ike Davis http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/collins-its-too-early-to-panic-about-ike-davis.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/collins-its-too-early-to-panic-about-ike-davis.html/#comments Sat, 27 Apr 2013 12:47:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=116402 Updated at 5:30 PM

Ike Davis

According to Terry Collins, it’s too early to worry about Ike Davis and his prolonged slump.

“There is no need to panic about Ike Davis, or talk about sending him to the minor leagues,” Collins told reporters.

Would the Mets consider sending Ike to minors?

“If that discussion is going to be had, it’s not going to be had for a long time. You have to have patience.”

Ike Davis is batting seventh in the order in tonight’s game against the Phillies.

Original Post 9:30 AM

Ike Davis should log on to his computer, Google the book, “Ted Williams: The Science of Hitting,’’ and order a copy.

Maybe it is time both he and the Mets realize Davis isn’t just struggling, but that perhaps he doesn’t know too much about hitting. Davis homered yesterday, but for my money I would rather he slapped a single to left in the sixth with runners on second and third and two outs.

Instead, he struck out. Again. For those scoring at home, it was the 24thtime he has walked back to the dugout in disgust, compared to just 12 hits. Old stats, new stats, it doesn’t matter, Davis is not producing.Davis has four homers and seven RBI. He’s hitting .174 with a .260 on-base percentage, .348 slugging percentage and .608 OPS. However, the number that kills me is he’s on pace for 194 strikeouts.

I spoke with Davis about strikeouts and using the whole field and he told me he’s a home run hitter, he likes to hit home runs, and strikeouts are part of the equation. He’s missing the boat with that reasoning, much like he’s missing the breaking ball away.

Suppose Davis cut his strikeouts in half to 97, which is still a lot. That would be 97 times he would be putting the ball in play instead of throwing his bat. Think how many more homers he’d produce in those 97 at-bats, not to mention productive at-bats when he’ll drive in a run with a hit, sacrifice fly or ground out.

“It’s about contact,’’ manager Terry Collins said. “These big home run hitters, they’re going to strike out. That’s part of the program. Ike, when he’s going good, he gets hits. He just doesn’t get home runs.

“You go back two years ago in the first half where he drove in everybody who was standing at second base. They were base hits. They weren’t always home runs. I think if he again starts using the field more – especially the opposite field – it also takes that shift away from them, which a lot of teams play on him. And I think it’ll make a difference.’’

That’s what Williams preached in his book. Teams used the shift against Williams, and this is when he didn’t use his own advice. However, Williams was so good he produced over his own stubbornness. In his wildest dreams, Davis isn’t half as good as Williams.

Williams might have been the greatest hitter ever, even considering Babe Ruth. Williams’ average year was .344 with 37 homers and 130 RBI. When you factor in he lost five prime years of his career serving in World War II and the Korean War, his lifetime numbers would have been through the roof.

When you boil it down, Williams’ fundamental advice about hitting was get a good pitch to hit. Williams was so precise he broke down the strike zone into baseball-size segments to where he had each area had its own batting average.

“As we’ve studied his at-bats, they’re just killing him away,’’ Collins told reporters after Thursday’s loss.

Williams calculated the low-and-away pitch at best would produce a .230 average. Davis isn’t even giving the Mets that much. That average would increase, Williams said, if the hitter went that way instead of trying to pull. Instead, Davis is chasing everything, which means the pitch doesn’t have to be that good.

Collins sees that: “If he starts going that way to where he’s going to use more of the field to hit, he’s got some better opportunities to drive some runs in.’’

Unfortunately, Davis does not: “Sometimes they’re helpful. Sometimes they’re not. Me slapping the ball the other way early in the count is probably not helpful.’’

Rebuttal: How would Davis know if he hasn’t tried it routinely? He did when he first came up, but rarely since.

Either Davis doesn’t know the fundamentals of hitting, or refuses to listen to his coaches and manager. And, Collins and GM Sandy Alderson are wrong for accepting this kind of performance.

Listen, I don’t know how to build a watch, but I know how to tell time, and the time has come for Davis to change. Either him, or the Mets should.

Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

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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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The 2013 Mets Have No Chance To Win. However… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/the-2013-mets-have-no-chance-to-win-however.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/02/the-2013-mets-have-no-chance-to-win-however.html/#comments Sun, 24 Feb 2013 04:54:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=108983 Kranepool was one Casey's favorite students.

We wont win this season. We wont compete this season. We wont be any good this season. Okay, now that that’s settled, lets go ‘Play Ball’ this season and see what happens. Opening Day is a little over one month away and when that first pitch is thrown, the Mets technically have just as good a chance as anyone to win.

We Mets fans are an interesting bunch Always have been. In 1962 that other team in New York were defending World Champions (again) They had guys named Yogi and Mickey and Whitey and Moose. And they had Roger Maris fresh off breaking what had been deemed the unbreakable record. However, just a few miles away, playing in a dilapidated stadium that was close to being demolished, there was a new team in a town. The Mets countered with guys named Choo Choo, Elio, Marvelous Marv and ‘Hot’ Rod.

And yet, even though the 62 Yankees won 96 games and their eighth World Championship in 13 years, it was the new kids in town who drew more fans.

The difference between the fan bases of our two clubs is simple: Yankees fans feel that anything less than a Championship is simply unacceptable. Mets fans, on the other hand, are ecstatic over finishing .500.

We always hope for the best…but prepare for the worst.

When you think back to 1986, what are the words that come to mind? Swagger. Confidence. Arrogance. Buckner. One word that never really gets brought up is ‘Miracle.’ Sure, Mookie’s slow roller was a gift from the ghosts of Joan Payson and Gil Hodges. But ‘miracle’ is more fitting of 1969 than 1986.

Think back to Game Six. No, not that one. The one against Houston. The Mets were leading the Astros three games to two but we came into the ninth trailing by three and Mike Scott, who’d already shut us down twice in a week and on his way to winning the Cy Young Award, was poised for game seven. Remember that feeling?

Remember that feeling in another Game Six? After Keith flied out, Gary stepped to the plate. The Mets trailed 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth, bases empty and two outs. No hope. Shea was deathly quiet. Failure was written on Davey’s face. The players sat on the bench staring in utter shock and despair at what was playing out before them. Losing was bad enough. Being the team whom the Red Sox would break their curse against was downright embarrassing. But the most heart-wrenching feeling of all was disbelief. Why?

1986 was OUR year. We were supposed to win. We deserved to win. We were entitled. We were the best team. My heavens—We had turned into the Yankees.

And two days later when ‘the dream came true,’ sure, we were elated. But the agony of possible defeat far outweighed the thrill of victory.

In the mid and late 80’s expectations were always high. This was something new for our Metsies. We’re never favored or picked to go far. But with this new burden comes a heavy task. When excellence is expected, almost demanded, anything less is deemed failure. However, when nothing at all is expected and something great happens, it’s that much sweeter.

Over the last quarter century, the two most heartbreaking moments for us came off the bat of catchers: Mike Scioscia and Yadier %$#&^% Molina.

In 1988, the Mets were expected to repeat their ’86 performance. We won 100 games, 10 of those coming in 11 matchups against the Dodgers that season. When Scioscia hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth in game four against Doc, we were shell-shocked. The Mets never recovered. We were supposed to win. But in the blink of an eye (or the swing of a bat) our expectations and sense of entitlement was crushed.

Same could be said of 2006. That years’ Mets were similar in many ways to the 1986 club. Confident, some arrogance. We dethroned the much hated Braves. Yes, 2006 would definitely be our year. That is until Yadier Molina dug in.

As if 2006 was not heartbreaking enough, the subsequent collapses the next two seasons were downright unfathomable. Choking is hard enough to swallow. But choking when you’re expected to win? That just seems unfair, cruel.

Tug McGrawIn 1973, the Mets were not good. To say our hitting was anemic would be an understatement. Only one player had over 16 HRs. Only one player hit over 280, Rusty Staub was our RBI leader, plating a whopping 76. No one even had double digits in SB’s. Even our traditionally strong pitching was a letdown. Two of our big three pitchers, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack both finished with more losses than wins. And on August 31, our closer Tug McGraw, had an ERA north of 5.00.

But somehow, with no expectations, 1973 remains one of the best years in Mets history. We managed to finagle the NL East title, upset a Big Red Machine team that was filled top to bottom with would-be Hall of Famers. And then, pushed the A’s in the midst of their dynasty, to seven games, even getting the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning of Game Seven.

There are certain players that are held in reverence by their team’s fans. The Red Sox have Ted Williams, the Cubs Ernie Banks, the Royals George Brett. And for us it’s No. 41.

But Tom Seaver was not always Tom Seaver. In the spring of 1969, Seaver was not yet Tom Terrific. He was a promising 24-year old kid with a mediocre 32 wins and 25 losses. (No one expected Seaver to win almost as many games that season as he’d won in the previous two). In Spring Training that March Seaver was joined by Cleon Jones who was a career .272 hitter. (No one dreamed that Cleon would hit .340 in 1969) Former Rookie of the Year Tommie Agee was coming off hitting .217 the previous year. At 26, Agee was considered a has-been.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, our manager was none other than Gil Hodges. Sure, Hodges was loved by New York fans but as a skipper, he achieved little success. With 6 managerial seasons under his belt, the former Brooklyn first baseman had a lackluster .407 winning percentage.

Now, as we inch our way closer to another season, we have little hope. Will Jon Niese turn into another Tom Seaver? No. Will Lucas Duda, like Cleon, hit 340? Of course not. Will Terry Collins join Davey and Gil as championship managers? No way.

But just for the hell of it, lets play out the season and see what happens. In 1962, Casey Stengel told his team, “All I ask is that you bust your hiney on that field.”

Do the Mets have any chance to win it all this season? I think we have about as good a chance as we did in the spring of 1969.

we're number one 1969 mets topps

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This Day In MLB History… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/this-day-in-mlb-history.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/10/this-day-in-mlb-history.html/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2011 12:32:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=63758

October 26th, 1940:

Tigers’ slugging left fielder Hank Greenberg (.340, 41, 150) is named the American League’s Most Valuable Player with Indian hurler Bob Feller (27-11- 2.61) finishing second. Having won the award in 1935 as a first baseman, ‘Hammerin’ Hank’ becomes the first player to win another MVP playing a different position.

Like most avid baseball fans, I’m familiar with who Hank Greenberg is and that he played the majority of his career for the Detroit Tigers, but if you ask me any specifics about his career, I would have been able to tell you absolutely nothing. Researching Greenberg’s career was interesting because when he was playing, he was a beast.

The Bronx native made his MLB debut in September of 1930 and played his final game in September of 1947, yet he only played 12 seasons in the league. He only appeared for Detroit once in 1930, and then didn’t see any action with the club again until 1933, when he hit .301 with 12 home runs and 87 RBI. He, like most other baseball superstars at that time, didn’t play between 1941 and 1945 because he was serving in the military for WWII. However, for missing so many years of his prime, his career statistics are still quite impressive: .313 average, 331 home runs, 1,275 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .412.

The 1956 Hall of Fame inductee found himself leading several offensive categories on numerous occasions. He led the league in home runs, extra base hits, and RBI four times. He was included in MVP talks on seven different occasions, which just so happens to be 58% of his entire career.  He won the award twice, in 1935 and 1940, and was named to the All-Star team four times, all consecutively.

I don’t know about anyone else, but reading all of this was quite surprising to me because I have never heard anyone talk about him at length before. What didn’t help was that he was over shadowed by other superstars in that time period, players like Gehrig, DiMaggio, and Williams. Fair enough. However, now we saw just how much of an offensive force Greenberg was for Detroit and why he is held in such high regard by the Tiger faithful.

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Beware Of The Blob! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/11/beware-of-the-blob.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/11/beware-of-the-blob.html/#comments Wed, 11 Nov 2009 05:13:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=15815 Is your head spinning yet?

We live in the age of the 24 hour news cycle thanks to the internet, but somehow when it comes to the hot stove season, it’s more like a 24 minute news cycle.

Case in point, the Matt Holliday rumors.

Everyone who has an inkling, a feeling or a thought on the Holliday situation keeps adding to the suffocating cycle and viral onslaught of baseless information that contradicts itself from minute to minute.

Matt Holliday’s free agency has now taken on a life of it’s own. Much like the SciFi classic, “The Blob”, it creeps, and crawls, and eats, and grows.

Scott Boras doesn’t help matters when he keeps saying that his client Matt Holliday is this year’s Mark Teixeira, but nothing could be more further from the truth. Holliday is definitely not in the same class as Teixeira, and it’s not even close.

Teixeira is a superstar and a perennial MVP candidate, whereas Matt Holliday is neither of those things. And yet by the enormous volume of information, most of it useless, you would think Holliday is the second coming of Ted Williams.

In the last three days, the Holliday twists and turns, which are being fueled mostly by wild speculation, have reached a new level of internet saturation.

One of the more popular hot stove sites had over 30 different links or references to Matt Holliday in the last 48 hours alone. And they were all in individual blog posts! Now take that number and multiply it by the number of letters in Holliday’s name, square it and then multiply it again by the number of baseball blogs and… well, you get the picture.

One minute the Mets won’t spend on Holliday, the next minute the Mets are going all out for him. One writer gets a chuckle out of Holliday in a Met uniform, while another says it’s written in the stars. One post says that Holliday is too rich for the Mets taste, and later that day he’s right up the Mets alley. Geesh…

The worst part of it is that 24 hours later, a whole new slew of blog posts with the same contradicting information is recycled and regurgitated the next day. Of course, the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but basically its the same crap, over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. It’s completely mind boggling.

Actually, it’s indescribable… it’s indestructable… Nothing can stop it!

Sadly, I myself posted a Matt Holliday blog when either Heyman or Rosenthal reported that a source told them Holliday preferred to sign with the Mets or Yankees. The next day there were conflicting reports and I was going to repost the updated information. As I gathered my thoughts, the story changed again and Holliday was suddenly back on the Mets radar, but then… <Insert a terrifying scream here.>

To be continued…

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