Mets Merized Online » Tom Glavine Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Carlos Beltran Signed With Mets 10 Years Ago Today Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:04:53 +0000 On January 13, 2005, ten years ago today, the Mets signed free agent  Carlos Beltran to a seven year, $119 million dollar contract.

I can’t recall a greater Mets player who was as under-appreciated as Beltran was when he was with the Mets, despite always giving it everything he had and delivering countless big hits and big plays.

“He had a couple of monster seasons for us, and was a huge reason why we made it as far as we did in 2006,” Wright said of his former teammate. ”We came a couple runs from making the World Series, and we don’t get close to that without Carlos.”


The following is where Carlos Beltran ranked in Mets franchise history after he was traded

Batting average: .280 (12th)
On-base percentage: .369 (6th)
Slugging percentage: .501 (5th)
OPS (on-base plus slugging): .870 (5th)
Runs scored: 548 (8th)
Hits: 877 (13th)
Total bases: 1,566 (10th)
Doubles: 208 (6th)
Triples: 17 (17th)
Home Runs: 149 (6th)
RBI: 557 (6th)
Bases on Balls: 446 (9th)
Stolen Bases: 100 (11th)
Extra-Base Hits: 374 (6th)
Sacrifice Flies: 37 (7th)
WAR (Position Players): 32.2 (2nd)
Offensive WAR: 27.8 (5th)
Defensive WAR: 4.4 (3rd)

Here are our Top 5 Beltran Moments…

5. The First Win As A Met – April 10, 2005

Setting the scene: For the first moment on this list, we head all the way back to Beltran’s first win as a Met. The Mets started the Pedro Martinez-Carlos Beltran era 0-5 under rookie manager Willie Randolph, and were on the verge of being swept out of Atlanta. Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz were locked in a pitcher’s duel, with Smoltz striking out 15 Mets.

What Happened: Up came Mr. Beltran in the 8th Inning with the Mets down 1-0, and Jose Reyes on base. Beltran took Smoltz deep for a 2-Run HR that not only put the Mets ahead for good, but knocked Smoltz out of the game. With Smoltz out, the Mets were able to get to the Braves bullpen for 4 more runs, including another Beltran RBI in the 9th. Pedro Martinez picked up the complete game win.

4. Tie-Breaking 2-Run HR, 2006 NLCS Game 1 – October 12, 2006

Setting the Scene: Tom Glavine and Jeff Weaver of the St. Louis Cardinals were locked in a 0-0 pitching duel in the first game of the 2006 NLCS. In the 6th Inning, Paul Lo Duca singles with two out to keep the inning alive for Beltran.

What Happened: Beltran drilled a 2-2 offering from Weaver to right-center, giving the Shea Apple a reason to come out and shine. It would be the only runs the Mets score that night, as the Mets took Game 1 from the Cardinals 2-0.

Beltran would hit two more HR’s in Game 4, tying Babe Ruth for most post-season HR’s against the Cardinals. The series would end on a sour note for the Mets and especially Beltran in Game 7. However, the Mets would never have gotten to Game 7 without the magnificent 2006 season that Beltran put up.

3. “We’re Going Home” – May 23, 2006

Setting the Scene: The Philadelphia Phillies took an early lead, and despite the best attempts of the New York Mets, the Phillies continued to hold on to their lead. Jose Reyes tied the game with a 2-Run HR in the 8th, and the Mets and Phillies carried an 8-8 score into extras. Ryan Madson pitched 7 Innings in relief to take the game to the 16th Inning.

What Happened: Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the 16th with a solo, walk-off HR. That’s it. Game over. The SNY call of the game is memorable for Gary Cohen proclaiming We’re going home after the game ended after midnight.

2. The Catch Up Tal’s Hill – July 7, 2007

Setting the Scene: On the Saturday before the All-Star Break (and the luckiest day to play the slots), the Mets and the Houston Astros played a 3-3 tie deep into extras. The Astros and the Mets frequently threatened to score, putting men on base in every inning except the 13th.

What Happened: The Astros put men on at the corners with two out. The runner on third is the only one that matters. Luke Scott steps in to pinch hit and drills the Joe Smith pitch 420 ft…to straightaway center. Carlos Beltran got an excellent jump on the ball, ran over 50 feet, and made a stunning, over the shoulder grab, while running up the hill and falling down, to save the game. Beltran, who was the top defensive CF in the National League for a stretch, had the defensive play of his career here.

Three innings later, in the 17th, Beltran drove in Jose Reyes to score the go-ahead run amidst all the usual boos from the Houston fans. David Wright would follow with an insurance run, and the Mets won 5-3 after 5 hours and the most thrilling game of the 2007 season.

1. Home Run Derby At Shea Stadium – August 22, 2006

Setting the Scene: The Mets open up a 1-0 lead on the St. Louis Cardinals with a solo HR from Carlos Delgado, before Albert Pujols smacks a 3-Run HR and a Grand Slam in back-to-back innings to give the Cardinals a 7-1 lead. Carlos Delgado answered Pujols’s Grand Slam with one of his own(his 400th career HR) in the bottom of the 5th. Jose Reyes scored in the 6th to pull the Mets to 7-6.

What Happened: Jason Isringhausen came in to close the game. After retiring Reyes, he gave up a single to Paul Lo Duca. Up stepped Carlos Beltran with the power to end the game with one swing…which is just what he did. Beltran turned one over the right-field wall to walk the Mets off the field with an 8-7 win in maybe the most thrilling game of the 2006 season.


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Who Is LHP Sean Gilmartin? Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:17:42 +0000 Sean - Gilmartin

Anticipating the Rule 5 Draft can be like looking ahead to a trip to the dentist for an enthusiast of minor league baseball.  Inevitably, players you have watched perform their trade, and, perhaps, even gotten to know a little when attending games at venues like Binghamton’s NYSEG Stadium are on the block, possibly lost to another franchise.  To the minor league aficionado, the Rule 5 Draft is a time of foreboding, a time of dread.

Rule 5 dread and foreboding turned to loss for me this winter when two Met pitching prospects I had come to admire Logan Verrett and Greg Peavey were gobbled up in the draft.  Both were critical pieces of the Binghamton baseball revival over the last two summers, Verrett going 11-5 in 2013, and Peavey, a pitching ace, amassing a stellar 11-3 campaign with a 2.90 ERA in the B-Mets championship season last summer.

I was especially distraught learning the Mets had lost Peavey.  Greg is a standup guy I got to know somewhat last summer, a guest on the ‘All About Binghamton Baseball’ summer segment on my Tip-Off radio show.

But, the Rule 5 draft is a two-sided coin.  On one side comes the hard felt loss of promising guys like Verrett and Peavey.  But, with the other side of the coin comes gain, as baseball teams add other prospects with promise and possibility they pilfer from opposing franchises.  For the Mets this winter that guy is Sean Gilmartin, a left-handed pitcher who last played in the Minnesota Twins organization.  So, who is this guy Sean Gilmartin?

At 24 years of age, Sean Gilmartin has already experienced many of the highs and lows that come with playing baseball.  Gilmartin grew up in Encino, California, a celebrated baseball star at Crespi Carmelite High School drafted in 2008 by the Padres in the 31st round.  A kid who admittedly thought of little else but playing professional baseball, Gilmartin made the choice to forego a shot at the pros to attend college at Florida State.

It was a wise choice by the young left-handed pitcher, because it was at Florida State where Gilmartin’s baseball credentials blossomed.  Almost immediately Gilmartin became an impact player for the Seminoles.  A two-way star who played in the outfield when he wasn’t on the mound, Gilmartin became a ‘Friday night starter’ at Dick Howser Stadium for the Seminoles.

The Friday night starter on a college baseball team is reserved for a team’s ace, a trusted arm expected to bring home a win in the first game of a weekend three game series boosting the possibility of the home team taking the series.  Friday night starters also get to pitch in front of their school’s biggest crowds increasing the visibility and interest of the baseball program on campus.

Gilmartin handled the pressures that come leading a famed Division I baseball staff well his freshman year going 12-3 with a 2.24 ERA.  The lefty ace suffered from the sophomore slump in his second campaign struggling with a 9-8 record, but never lost his status as the Friday night man indicating how much respect he had gained for the Florida State coaches.

It was Gilmartin’s junior season as a Seminole that would accelerate his baseball career.  The long legged left-handed ace was nearly unhittable going 12-1 with a 1.83 ERA and an impressive 0.94 WHIP.  Gilmartin finished second in the ACC in strikeouts trailing the league’s MVP, Danny Hultzen, a second overall selection by the Seattle Mariners in the 2011 baseball draft.  Hultzen, who missed all last season with a torn labrum, rotator cuff and anterior capsule, is making a pitching comeback that should see him back on the mound this season.

Gilmartin, too, went high in the 2011 draft, picked in the first round, 28th overall, by the Atlanta Braves.  Long respected for finding pitching talent, it’s noteworthy any time a pitcher is selected in the first round of baseball’s draft by Atlanta.  Braves scouts considered Gilmartin a quality left-handed pitcher with a great make-up and excellent pitch ability.  They were impressed with the Florida State ace’s maturity and competitiveness on the mound.

sean gilmartin

The Braves put Gilmartin on a speedy track through their minor league system with Gilmartin reaching their Triple-A team in Gwinett in his first year in the pros.  But, Gilmartin never really caught on bouncing back and forth between Double-A and Triple-A with the Braves during his first two seasons as a pro.  When the Braves were looking for added catching depth in the off-season last winter, they shipped Gilmartin to Minnesota for Ryan Doumit.

Splitting time between Double-A New Britain and Triple-A Rochester, Gilmartin put up the best pitching stats of his professional career in 2014.  Gilmartin started 26 games going 9-7 with a 3.71 ERA and a 1.297 WHIP.  Gilmartin’s strikeout numbers jumped, the lefty starter averaging 8.2 K’s per 9 innings with a SO/W ratio of 3.02, both the best in his pro career.

But, when the Twins shaped their 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft, they decided to leave Gilmartin unprotected.  The Mets jumped at the chance to add another left-handed arm to their pitching possibilities.  Here’s what General Manager Sandy Alderson had to say about the addition.  “There’s not really pronounced splits, so we don’t look at Gilmartin strictly left-on-left.  But, we like his athleticism.  We like his makeup.  He’s got a chance to pitch against righties and lefties.”

Alderson may have liked the multiple possibilities that come with Gilmartin.  A starting pitcher his entire career, Gilmartin could provide a left-handed possibility in the starting rotation if Jon Niese was moved in the off-season.  And, as a former starter and someone with decent pitching splits, he could become a long reliever/spot starter on the Mets staff.

Gilmartin also could be used to face that one left-handed batter late in a game.  Gilmartin pitched 23 1/3 innings against left-handed batters in Triple-A last year compiling a 0.75 WHIP, allowing no HR’s, and fanning 27 batters against just 3 BB’s.  Left-handed Triple-A batters hit only .190 against him last season.  It’s the multiple use possibilities of a guy like Gilmartin that probably drew attention from the Mets.

As a kid, Gilmartin lived for baseball and modeled his pitching style after three stellar left-handers Tom Glavine, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.  That’s probably where Gilmartin developed his fluid, almost effortless pitching delivery.  In some respects when he’s at work on the hill, baseball scouts report it almost looks as if Gilmartin is simply playing catch with the catcher’s mitt.

“I try to simplify things as much as possible,” Gilmartin told the Orlando Sentinel when he was first drafted out of Florida State.  And, wherever he’s pitched, Gilmartin has been lauded for his maturity and poise on the mound.  When asked about his ability to stay within himself and not show frustration when things don’t go as he intended on the hill, here’s how Gilmartin put it.  “You can’t play the game that way.  Baseball is a very failure-oriented sport.  You have to know how to handle it.”

Gilmartin’s pitching philosophy is built around commanding his pitches.  He has a four pitch repertoire to use in various situations.  “The aspect of the game I am constantly working on is commanding all four of my pitches and being able to have the confidence to throw them in any count at any part of a baseball game,” Gilmartin told the Sentinel when he was just entering the pros.

Unlike the cadre of young power arms in the Met system, Gilmartin depends more on finesse, on pitching smarts, guile, and cunning to get professional baseball batters out.  Gilmartin has a plan every time he goes to the mound with some well rounded options at his disposal.  His fastball sits in the 87-91 mph range and runs in somewhat on right-handed hitters.  Great command of the pitch both inside and out makes it a steady pitch selection for Gilmartin.

The change-up, a deceptive pitch thrown from the same arm slot as his fast ball and arriving at home plate at 79 or 81 mph, is Gilmartin’s bread and butter pitch.  The change has great arm side fade and drop, and Gilmartin throws it at any count.

A high 60’s/low 70’s curveball has a significant break and 12/6 drop.  Gilmartin throws the pitch consistently for strikes and uses it primarily against right-handed hitters.  Against left-handed batter’s Gilmartin prefers to use his slider, a developing option with sharp, late break.

Gilmartin’s success lies with his ability to keep hitters off balance by mixing his pitches and commanding the strike zone.  Gilmartin has to hit his spots to be effective.

A former number one draft selection, great athleticism, a left-handed pitching option, and maturity beyond his years make Sean Gilmartin a great gamble as a Rule 5 pick for the Mets.  Expect the Mets to provide Gilmartin with every opportunity to prove he can help the big league team this spring.


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Remembering the “Disappointed But Not Devastated” Tom Glavine Sun, 27 Jul 2014 04:11:24 +0000 tom glavine

The Baseball Hall of Fame will induct its 2014 class today in Cooperstown, NY and standing among them will be two former Mets. Joe Torre, who was elected by the Veterans Committee, played for the Mets from 1975-1977, where he hit .267 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI in 254 games. Torre began his managerial career with the Mets in 1977 and skippered the team through 1981, going 286-420. LHP Tom Glavine will also be enshrined today. Glavine was 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA in five seasons (2004-2007) with New York.

To baseball fans, Glavine was one of the best pitchers of his generation.  He won 305 games over his 22-year career, including five 20-win seasons.  He finished in the top three in Cy Young Award balloting six times, while winning the award twice (1991, 1998).

Mets fans might remember him for something different.  Some will remember Glavine for picking up his 300th career victory in 2007 as a member of the Mets. Others will remember his outstanding 2006 campaign; a year in which he finished with a 15-7 record in the regular season and followed that up with two more victories in the postseason, which included a sparkling 1.59 ERA in three starts.

Some of us will only remember Glavine for his final appearance in a Mets uniform…

On September 30, 2007, just one day after John Maine pitched his near no-hitter against the Marlins to help the Mets tie the Phillies in the standings going into the regular season finale, Glavine was only able to record one out against Florida in what would be the worst start of his career.

The veteran southpaw was tagged hard for seven runs – all earned – by the Marlins that day in a devastating 8-1 loss.  Coupled with Philadelphia’s victory over the Washington Nationals, the Mets failed to repeat as division champions in 2007 and the late-season collapse was etched in stone. With a seven-game division lead on September 12, the Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games in what is regarded as one of the worst collapses in MLB history.

If his poor performance against the Marlins wasn’t enough to enrage Mets fans, his post-game comments surely managed to do the trick when Glavine told reporters he was disappointed but not devastated.

“I spent a pretty big hunk of my career in New York. And I know at first I was just a guy coming in. But after a while, I became comfortable, and I think I was accepted. Winning the National League East in 2006 made it better, and then I won my 300th with the Mets. I felt I had the city behind me. If we had beaten the Marlins in the last game, I don’t think I would have lost any standing. But the way it worked out wasn’t as good as it could have been.”

As a baseball fan, I appreciate what Tom Glavine did on the baseball field.  While I rooted for him everyday as a Met. for some reason I never quite looked at him as a Met. Whenever I saw him I saw Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox. The Tomahawk Chop would be playing in my head. He’ll be joining his teammate Maddux this afternoon on that podium.

I want to congratulate Glavine, who was always a class act on and off the field. He was a great competitor, a quality postseason pitcher, and he was always a plus in the clubhouse. 

However, as a Mets fan, every time I think of the final 17 games of the 2007 season, I think of Tom Glavine. In many ways we are still trying to recover from that historic collapse.

Congratulations on your Hall of Fame enshrinement, Mr. Glavine.

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Featured Post: What Tom Glavine’s Induction Means for Doc Halladay Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:24:17 +0000 The election of Tom Glavine into the Hall of Fame makes me wonder how voters will reflect on Roy Halladay’s career. The two careers are by no means similar, but that’s what makes it a fascinating comparison.

Glavine is well deserving of his induction. Over his twenty-year career from 198-2007 (excluding his very first and last seasons in which he combined to throw only 113.2 innings), which spanned the heart of the PED era, he compiled a 3.48 ERA, a 1.304 WHIP, fewer than one hit per innings, fewer than one home run per nine innings, 2,550 strikeouts and, of course, the magical 300-plus win total (301 to be exact, 305 for his entire career). He also won two Cy Young awards and finished with two more second place finishes and still two more third place finishes. He was a ten-time All Star and received five top-25 MVP finishes, including one top-10 in 1992. And all that while pitching with Greg Maddux.

Halladay doesn’t have those counting credentials. His career as a full time starter only spanned ten years, 2002-2011. He only has 170 wins in that span (though he does have the wins per season advantage over Glavine 17-15), but he does have 203 overall having played part time for four seasons before becoming a full time starter in 2002 and hanging on for two injury-plagued seasons in 2012-13. He only has 2,117 career strikeouts, and he spent most of his career playing after the PED era (though it’s naïve to think PEDs were eradicated after 2004).

But here’s the case for Doc. The hardware is very similar. Also two Cy Young awards and also two other second place finishes. He has one third place finish and two other fifth place finishes. He’s an eight time All Star and has two top-ten MVP finishes, all in ten fewer years to accomplish these feats. When you consider most of that came while pitching in the AL East in the 2000’s, without question the toughest offensive division, while on a bad team for most of it and in hitter’s parks, and Glavine pitched for one of the best teams in baseball, I give the hardware edge to Doc.

Halladay’s rate stats were also superior. He had a 2.97 ERA and 1.111 WHIP in his ten-year period of dominance, considerably better than Glavine’s numbers. Halladay has the better career FIP, as well (3.39 to 3.95). Glavine, for all his dominance, only had a pedestrian 1.78 K/BB ratio during his full-time years while Halladay’s was a loftier 4.57 during his stretch.

My ballot would include Roy Halladay the second he becomes eligible. His average season was better than Glavine’s, his trophy case is very similar in ten fewer years, and even though his career may not have the longevity of Glavine and some of the other best pitchers in the game, he does indeed have a very dominant ten-year stretch, which is the unwritten, unofficial minimum one can have to be considered dominant.

However, I feel if Doc were on this year’s ballot, he wouldn’t have been elected. There’s still a predilection among voters to over-value counting stats without much attention to their context. Some will cite Doc’s 203 career wins and mention Rick Reuschel, Kenny Rogers and Chuck Finley, others with similar win totals with no chance at enshrinement. Or his 2,117 strikeouts and offer Kevin Millwood, A.J. Burnett and David Wells as comparison.

Hopefully the culture will change in five years and voter turnover will open the doors for Halladay to receive the respect he deserves.

Presented By Diehards

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Why Mets Fans Should Hope Colon Is As Good As Glavine Fri, 10 Jan 2014 14:00:21 +0000 BartoloColon

Let’s start off by saying this: if Bartolo Colon is pitching a meaningful game for the Mets next September, we will all sign on the dotted line for that. To get to that point, however, it will require a lot of things to go the Mets’ way. Including a performance by Colon that matches what another aging pitcher once gave them in the mid-2000s, Tom Glavine.

Tom Glavine was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, and Mets fans weren’t exactly the loudest to rejoice. We all remember how he tortured the Mets as an Atlanta Brave, and perhaps more cruelly, how he crumbled in September 2007, his seven earned run performance against Florida on the last day of the season the most hurtful of all.

What is forgotten however, is how Tom Glavine came to the Mets as a 37-year-old pitcher, but was able to pitch five seasons of nearly 200 inning baseball, making him a big part of the success they did enjoy during that period. To put his contributions in perspective, only nine times has a Met pitcher pitched at least 180 innings at the age of 37 or older. Glavine represents five of those occurrences. A veteran pitcher, who can consume innings like that, is a rare commodity. Sandy Alderson is hopeful he found one in Bartolo Colon.

Since quality starts are often frowned upon as an effective measure of an actual quality start, there is a statistic devised by Bill James that goes a little deeper in scoring game starts. James gives added value for pitchers who pitch late into games, rewards strikeouts, and punishes walks. Game Score also accounts for hits and runs. An average Game Score is usually around 49 or 50.

Between 2003-2007, during Glavine’s tenure with the Mets, he pitched to a Game Score above 50 eighty-six times. Tom Glavine is most remembered for his terrible starts to close the 2007 season. What is forgotten is was how more than any other pitcher he provided quality starts, night-in and night-out.

Player # Games GSc > 50
Tom Glavine 86
Steve Trachsel 48
Pedro Martinez 43
Al Leiter 40

Can Bartolo Colon provide the same consistency to the Mets at the age of 40?  Below is the number of times he pitched to a Game Score above 50 over the past three seasons (at ages 38, 39, and 40) compared to the Mets best pitchers during the same seasons 2011-2013.

Player # Games GSc > 50
Jonathon Niese 49
Bartolo Colon 48
Dillon Gee 45
R.A. Dickey 44

The point is that without Glavine’s contributions throughout the season, the Mets would have never been in the competitive position they found themselves in during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. The same will be asked upon Bartolo Colon, especially with a young pitching staff in desperate need of leadership and innings. Mets fans should hope that Colon can be as good as Glavine was here.

Note: We welcome Jeffrey to the MMO team. Congratulations on your debut  post!

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BBWAA Fail: With 17% Of Vote Tallied, Piazza Still On Outside Looking In Wed, 01 Jan 2014 19:30:48 +0000 mike piazza

A week from today, on Wednesday, January 8, the 2014 inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced.

As of this morning, Mike Piazza is losing ground and now has 71.9% which is outside the the 75% threshold for induction. Here is the full tally of the 96 ballots counted by Baseball Think Factory.

Updated: Jan.1 – 10:00 AM ~ 96 Full Ballots (16.9% of vote ~ based on last year)

100 – Maddux
97.9 – Glavine
89.6 – F. Thomas
80.2 – Biggio
71.9 – Piazza
64.6 – Bagwell
63.5 – Jack (The Jack) Morris
56.3 – Raines
44.8 – Bonds
43.8 – Clemens
38.5 – Schilling
33.3 – Mussina
24.0 – Trammell
20.8 – L. Smith
20.8 – E. Martinez
16.7 – McGriff
11.5 – Kent
11.5 – McGwire
10.4 – L. Walker
8.3 – S. Sosa
7.3 – R. Palmeiro

Pardon my French, but can you believe this shit? I mean seriously, this is appalling and if this trend holds there is going to be a lot of pissed off Mets fans and Dodgers fans.

In case you weren’t aware, our own MMO BBWAA member John Delcos, voted the full allotment of ten players as follows:

Mike Piazza

Jeff Bagwell

Craig Biggio

Tom Glavine

Greg Maddux

Edgar Martinez

Jack Morris

Mike Mussina

Tim Raines

Frank Thomas

His only regret was not having room enough for Jeff Kent, who he hopes to select next year.

It’s amazing to me that Piazza’s 396 home runs as a catcher – the most by a catcher in baseball history – is not enough to get him in. But then also throw in his career .308/.377/ .545 slash, 344 doubles, 427 home runs, 1,335 RBI, and a 145 OPS+ all at a premium position.

In his career, Piazza won a Rookie of the Year Award in 1993 along with 11 Silver Sluggers, 14 All Star selections, and finished in the Top 10 of MVP voting six times including two second place finishes.

What a humiliation for the BBWAA if he gets shutout again.

Presented By Diehards

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Big Mets Fan’s Hall of Fame Ballot Thu, 19 Dec 2013 16:11:57 +0000 This should have been Piazza's plaque being added into the Hall of Fame

This year features a very crowded Hall of Fame ballot. It features a strong set of first year eligibles as well as a lot of holdovers that haven’t yet made it, but very well can get in. A writer can only cast votes for 10 players with their ballot. If this Big Mets Fan had a ballot to cast, I’d be casting all ten votes this year. I’d actually want to cast more than 10 this year, but if I had to cast only ten…

  1. Craig Biggio – Biggio was actually a tough one for me to put in my top 10. Not because I don’t think he should get in the Hall. But I had to debate with choosing him over a couple of other players for my 10th spot on the ballot. 20 MLB seasons. 3,060 hits. All with the Houston Astros. Maybe my feelings are a bit swayed because I didn’t think of him as the Player to be Feared and thought of him as more of a compiler. He was a career .281 hitter which doesn’t bounce off the page as a super hitter – but when you take a closer look, he scores 100+ runs 8 times and 90+ 12 times. He scored 120+ runs in a season 4 times including 146 times in 1997. He had 7 seasons of 40+ doubles including 51 in 1998 and 56 in 1999. He had 5 30+ HR seasons. He hit 20+ HR 8 times. He walked 1,160 times and scored 1,844 runs. So if he was a complier, he was pretty darn good. He’s getting my vote.
  2. Jack Morris – Jack is on the ballot for the 15th and final time this year and I hope he gets in. His ERA is high for the Hall at 3.90 which has been a detriment to him over the years. He has 254 career wins. He pitched 200+ innings 11 time including 293 2/3 in 1983 with 20 complete games. He was a bulldog on the mound. It was his championships that win his vote for me. If the argument is to be made that a player’s postseason failures should be held against him, then the argument should be made for Morris to get in for his success. Jack was a 4 time World Series Champion and the #1 starter on the staffs of the 1984 Tigers and 1992 Blue Jays. He was also one of the Big Three starters for the 1991 Twins as well as that staff’s inning’s leader. He was outstanding in the 1984 postseason. He had a brilliant 1991 postseason and his 10 inning shutout in the clinching game 7 is the clincher. He rose to the occasion on the biggest stage ever.
  3. Mike Piazza – I may be a Homer, but this isn’t a Homer call. I don’t need to make my case – Mike’s in. He should be already.
  4. Tim Raines – He should have been in long before. He was a dominant threat for the 10 years of his prime. He was just overlooked in Montreal and his career was in decline and he was a role player by the time he was in a major market. Based on his 10 year prime – he should be a no-brainer Hall of Famer.
  5. Curt Schilling – Curt may not have the best regular season numbers of the HOF candidates. He his career record was 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA. It was his two championship seasons that did it for me and 2004 in particular. In 2001, he was 22-6 with a 2.98 ERA and was co-World Series MVP’s with Randy Johnson. In 2004, he went 21-6 with a 3.26 ERA for the World Champion Red Sox. But it was the legendary Bloody Sock game that broke the Curse of the Bambino that makes him legendary.
  6. Roger Clemens – A lot of controversy on this one. A lot of people will say he should never go in. Do I think he did PED’s? Yes. Do I think he lied about it? Yes. Do I also think he was a great pitcher? Yes. I’m voting him in because he was a great pitcher, not because I like him. Can you imagine him and Piazza on the podium at the same time?
  7. Barry Bonds – See Roger Clemens. Nice guy? No. Great player? Yes. Even without the PED’s that took him from a player that was already Hall worthy into a Superfreak. HOF.
  8. Greg Maddux – If there’s anyone who leaves Maddux off their ballot, they’re stupid and should have their head examined.
  9. Frank Thomas – The Big Hurt was called just that because he would hurt you. He was a great player. Hit .300 and you’ll be in the Hall of Fame? He hit .301 over 19 years. He declined in his later years, but over an 11 year streak from 1990-2000 he hit over .300 10 times. Teams were terrified to pitch to him and he walked over 100 times 10 times. He scored 100+ runs 8 times. He had 11 100+ RBI seasons. He had 9 30+ HR seasons and 521 career home runs. His career OBP was .419. He was a great hitter.
  10. Tom Glavine – His career was in decline by the time we saw him with the Mets, but he did have three pretty good years. He’s a career 300 game winner. He won 20+ games 5 times. He threw 200+ innings 14 times. He was a two time Cy Young Award Winner. He’s in.


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The 10 Worst Mets Pitching Staffs Since 1980 Fri, 06 Dec 2013 02:39:09 +0000 bret saberhagen_display_image

Since we’ve already covered the 10 best and worst offenses since 1980, and the 10 best pitching staffs since 1980, it’s only fitting that we take a look at the 10 worst pitching staffs since 1980.  While the mid-to-late 80s and into the early 90s were the renaissance of Mets pitching, all of the bottom 10 performances have been after 1992.

Ten Most Runs Allowed Since 1980

1)    1996 – 779 runs – 4.81/game

2)    2009 – 757 runs – 4.67/game

3)    2003 – 754 runs – 4.68/game

4)    1994 – 754 runs* – 4.65/game

5)    2007 – 750 runs – 4.63/game

6)    1993 – 744 runs – 4.59/game

7)    2011 – 742 runs – 4.58/game

8)    2000 – 738 runs – 4.56/game

9)    2006 – 731 runs – 4.51/game

10)   2004 – 731 runs – 4.51/game

*The 1994 season was cut short by the player strike.  The Mets only played 113 games, allowing 526 runs.  Over a 162 game schedule, this is prorated to 754 runs.

Right after the eight year stretch of 1985-1992 which saw 7 of the 10 best 10 pitching squads since the 80s, the following 4 years immediately thereafter saw 3 of the worst 4.  The National League championship squad was among the bottom 10, but that team was also among the top 10 in runs scored.

So who were the starting rotations on these bottom 10 squads? (the top 5 starters in terms of games started are listed – in 1993/1994, two pitchers were tied in the #5 spot).  Before passing any blanket judgments on these rotations for being in the bottom 10 - let’s remember that after the 80s we saw the rise of the middle relief pitcher where the bullpen began eating up more innings (and along with it, middle relievers that may not have been in the major leagues in years past).  This top 10 list is comprised of the collective staffs of the teams that allowed the most runs.

1993 – Dwight Gooden, Frank Tanana, Eric Hillman, Bret Saberhagen, Sid Fernandez/Pete Schourek

1994 – Bret Saberhagen, Bobby Jones, Pete Smith, Mike Remlinger, Jason Jacome/Mauro Gozzo

1996 – Mark Clark, Bobby Jones, Pete Harnisch, Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson

2000 – Mike Hampton, Al Leiter, Glendon Rusch, Rick Reed, Bobby Jones

2003 – Steve Trachsel, Jae Weong Seo, Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, Aaron Heilman

2004 – Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Al Leiter, Jae Weong Seo, Matt Ginter

2006 – Tom Glavine, Steve Trachsel, Pedro Martinez, Orlando Hernandez, John Maine

2007 – Tom Glavine, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez, Mike Pelfrey

2009 – Mike Pelfrey, Johan Santana, Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding, John Maine

2011 – R.A. Dickey, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese

Presented By Diehards

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Mets To Play Au Pair In Montreal Next Spring Mon, 09 Sep 2013 18:58:16 +0000 montreal stadium

As reported by Shi Davidi, The Mets and Toronto Blue Jays will play a pair of spring-training games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal next March.

According to Adam Rubin, the Mets last played at that ballpark on Sept. 23, 2004 — during the final days of the Montreal Expos’ existence. Gerald Williams and Victor Diaz homered and Tom Glavine earned the victory in the Mets’ 4-2 win that day.

That should be fun…

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Reverting Back to “You Gotta Believe” Wed, 14 Aug 2013 17:19:56 +0000 In 2005, the Mets fan was generally an optimistic one. Sure, we as fans were still getting over the bitter Subway Series defeat. Yet, the idea that somebody fresh and new was coming in to take over the Mets and build a team around our two young potential stars in Jose Reyes and David Wright allowed any Mets fan I know to be patient, but more importantly optimistic.

The ideas of a “plan”, or value of player contracts never once came up in any conversation I ever had.

When Omar Minaya was hired it was because he was the right guy for the job. He was eager, and excited to take the Mets to new heights. The Mets saw an opportunity to POSSIBLY be New York’s team once again if everything was done right. David Wright & Jose Reyes were going to be the toast of the town – and Minaya was going to bring in the right guys to make sure that happened.

What Mets fan wasn’t beside themselves with excitement when Pedro Martinez was signed? You can use hindsight all you want – but that was a big move. This was Pedro Martinez, in my mind the most dominant pitcher of his era wearing a Mets uniform. Sure, he was 33, but every start he had was “must see.”

That move set the tone for this franchise moving away from the “same old Mets.” Then, Carlos Beltran, the 28 year old quiet but formidable center fielder was brought in after his 8 post season homeruns made the baseball world aware of his talent.

Fast forward to Endy Chavez’s catch. I remember where I was, when it happened and how I reacted. I was sure the Mets were going to the World Series after that. Weren’t you?

We all know what happened next. A downward spiral towards heart break in 2007 followed by the team stepping on our hearts in 2008 just to make sure we were not alive anymore. Up until Atlanta and Boston decided to collapse on their own, it was the worst collapse (twice) I ever remember seeing as a sports fan.

In 2009, I came to MetsMerizedOnline somehow, some way. I honestly have no idea how I found MMO – but I know why I landed here.

Omar Minaya had just gotten into a public spat with reporter Adam Rubin and the damage to Minaya’s image was done. I came here to defend Minaya, and wrote a Fan Post which later spring boarded me into being a full time writer here.

I defended Minaya because he was the GM of my favorite team and felt he was being treated unfairly. At that moment – I believe the Mets fan base in my eyes changed dramatically.

The 2009 season gave Mets fans no reason to be anything but negative. It turned an optimistic “you gotta believe” fan base into a fan base that would soon be divided into many different groups.

Later on, the writing was on the wall. It had been 6 seasons and only 1 playoff appearance and Minaya had to go. The job search seemed to be extension for his replacement, but anybody who understands Bud Selig’s relationship with Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon’s should understand that it was Alderson’s job for a reason.

It was at this moment that the divide between Mets fans turned into the Grand Canyon. Sure, there were some that were willing to see what he’d do first – but there were so many (mostly younger) fans who were excited about the “new way” of thinking that Alderson and his staff would bring to the Mets.

They became obsessed with player contracts, not because they care about the Wilpon’s financial well-being, but likely because they understood that it’s hard to spend money on baseball players when you are in the middle of a $1billion lawsuit for possibly taking part in the largest Ponzi scheme this country has ever seen.

The day Jose Reyes signed with Miami was the end of Mets fans being able to celebrate together. The young superstar we all hoped would define what this franchise could be all about walked off the field in game 162, never to be seen in a Mets uniform again. reyes-marlins

If you spend any time on any Mets related blog/fan site you know what I mean when I speak of this divide. If you spend any time following any outspoken Mets fans on Twitter, you know what I mean when I speak of this divide.

Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where we all are not just fans anymore. There is no common bond between those you interact with on Al Gore’s internet with regards to your favorite baseball team.

Every move, every non-move, every play, every bullpen decision, every call up or send down will be diagnosed and in an instant, will have generally two sides thinking that it should have been done differently than the other side.

That is what is great about baseball. That’s why the Hall of Fame is great. The Hall of Fame is an amazing barometer for baseball discussion because rarely is anybody ever 100% right. You can have an honest and fair discussion right now about whether Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame and both arguments could be respected.

At some point in the Mets fan base, whether it be the day Minaya and Rubin got in their spat, the day Tom Glavine collapsed, the day Alderson made his first move or the day Jose Reyes left New York – the discussion went in many cases from “baseball” to “personal.”

No longer was your opinion on a game looked at as just another way to look at the game, instead it turned into an opportunity to get personal with those who disagree with you. I’m guilty of it to, and I’d wager a large percent of the people reading this are as well.

I am not a professional writer, I have no aspirations of being a writer – I’m just a 30 something guy, dad of 2, a non-profit employee, and passionate baseball fan. I come here because I love to talk about the game of baseball, but at some point many of those who disagree with me have taken that passion away and resorted to personal attacks not only against myself, but against this very website.

Defaming people because they view a baseball team differently than you is exactly what is wrong with our internet based society today. That in it of itself is proof that what is wrong with the social media aspect of being a sports fan is that is allows people to spew out hateful words they normally would never say if there was no keyboard in front of them.

Whether it’s a disagreement against me, or somebody who sees things differently than I – in either case, it’s wrong.

This is by far and away the greatest Mets fan site around and I am lucky to be considered a small part of it. I don’t think many of you realize just how hard guys like Joe work to make this site what it is. I’ve informed Joe D that I will step away from this website for the time being with the hope of maybe one day returning.

To the fans that have always respected me and given me their feedback whether in agreeable or disagreeable fashion, I thank you.

To those few who seek out my opinions, not to discuss them but to use them against my character – I also thank you.

Because of you, I’ve been able to revert back to the way I felt about this franchise back in 2005. Where hope, optimism and enjoyment for the game reigned supreme. I only hope that you yourself can find that same “you gotta believe” mentality once again.

Because of you, I’ve learned to further understand that baseball is a game that none of us have any control over and I’m lucky that I live a life in which my favorite baseball team’s W-L record doesn’t change who I am or how I enjoy my life every day.

Regardless of who you are, thanks for letting me chat about the game I love with you for so many years.

The Mets are embarking on a potentially special time, and right now there are so many fans whether here, other sites or on twitter that will miss out on what we as fans deserve because they are too focused on the details and not the outcome.

Their focus is not on enjoying the team they grew up being a fan of, but simply on those they disagree with – whether it be the General Manager, other fans or the former General Manager. My best advice no matter the side of the fence you’re on, start enjoying the game again, because that is what I’m going to do.

I’ll leave you with this…

Last night, when I got home from work my two year old ran to me and said “I want to go play baseball.”

Up until this point I’ve never asked her or even mentioned the idea of playing baseball. She has a Mets t-shirt and has watched a few games here and there – but for some reason, yesterday was the day she wanted to play.

So we went in the backyard (I couldn’t get changed fast enough) and she didn’t want to be the hitter, she wanted to be the pitcher.

So she’d throw the ball to me as best she could and I would hit it (crush it) with a whiffle ball bat. Then, we’d run as fast as we could to the ball to see who could pick it up first. She always won because I would “just miss” getting the ball.

What many fans do not understand is that moment from the time I walked in the door to the very first swing of the bat is what baseball is supposed to be all about.

That moment awakened me to realize there are so many more aspects to the game that arguing about sabermetrics, managers or free agents just loses sight of.

So tomorrow, you’ll find somebody else to attack because they disagree with how you view the sport of baseball – but you won’t find me because I’ll be in the backyard playing catch with my daughter.

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Harvey And Wheeler Give Met Fans A Glimpse Into The Future Tue, 18 Jun 2013 14:44:17 +0000 zack wheeler 2There might be some question if Zack Wheeler is ready to assume the role of savior for the New York Mets, despite his and manager Terry Collins’ proclamations to the contrary of those lofty expectations.

With the statistical and financial numbers having been crunched, the decision is it is time to start the clock on Wheeler. The Mets don’t know who’ll be dropped from the rotation. Because of today’s doubleheader, the Mets will go at least one cycle through the rotation with six starters.

Wheeler will start the second game with Matt Harvey taking the opener. That pitching future the Mets have been bragging about? Well, we’ll get a glimpse today.

Ideally, the Mets don’t want to return Wheeler to the minor leagues after today. As their thinking when Harvey came up last year, they want him here to stay. Because Wheeler won’t be activated until between games, rules prohibit him of being in the dugout to watch Harvey.

That will happen soon enough.

“[It will be] a fun day,’’ Collins said this afternoon at Turner Field. “It’s a great thing for this organization and its fan base to see what the future is going to be like. We’ve got two young guys that are going to be very, very, very good.

“Pitching is the name of this game. We’re going to run two guys out there [Tuesday] that can take this organization north pretty fast.’’

Harvey has been exceptional this season, but is just 1-1 with eight no-decisions in his last ten starts. In that span Harvey has given up 19 runs. If nothing else, what Wheeler should learn quickly about pitching on the major league level is there will be times when he’ll have to do it without run support, which is what Harvey is currently experiencing.

Harvey has been successful in large part because of his composure, self-confidence and sense of worth. Harvey understands his stature and expectations of him, but hasn’t let it go to his head.

Wheeler might as well have been reciting a script given him by Harvey.

“I don’t think I’m the savior at all,’’ spoke Wheeler in a press conference Monday afternoon at Turner Field, almost a half-hour where he grew up watching Chipper Jones and Tom Glavine.

Continuing his refreshing travel down humility road, Wheeler said: “We might not be doing too well right now, but I know the talent of these guys, and hopefully we can turn it around soon. … I’m just trying to come up here and play the best that I can, help out the team any way I can.

“I know people are going to scrutinize. We aren’t doing too well right now, but hopefully we can turn it around and everybody will like us again.’’

Mets fans have liked Wheeler all spring in hope of what he might give them. Today is his first chance to deliver.

Thoughts from Joe D.

Last night I told one of my friends that today’s doubleheader was giving me the familiar feelings I had when Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman were taking the mound back in 1968. Back then, Seaver was embarking on his second full season as a major leaguer and Kooz was about to pitch his first. They each delivered on their promise that year and suddenly by the time that season was over there was a sense that somehow 1969 was going to be special for the Mets.

Koosman had the better season in ’68 winning 19 games for a team that finished in ninth place and won only 77 games that year. He posted a 2.08 ERA in 34 starts for those Amazin’ young upstarts.

Seaver, on the other hand, already had his smashing debut the season before with 16 wins and a 2.76 ERA. He duplicated that win total the following season and improved his ERA to 2.20.

Wow, what was happening here I wondered…

I spent that fall and winter flipping and trading baseball cards with all the Yankee fans in my neighborhood. My goal was to get as many Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman cards as I could get my hands on. Back then, none of the Mets hitters had a .300 average… none of the Mets hitters had hit more than 15 home runs… and I think Ron Swoboda led the team with 50-something RBIs…

The only thing the team had going for them was Seaver and Koosman and yet somehow there was a feeling that that might be enough.

That was a long time ago my friends…. The game’s changed a lot since then, but the circumstances almost feel the same where Wheeler and Harvey are concerned. I hope I’m right…

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MMO Exclusive: Jack Leathersich Is Coming Fast And He Wants To Win! Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:08:43 +0000 I had the chance to talk to New York Mets left-handed pitching prospect Jack Leathersich last February before he headed to Port St. Lucie for the start of Spring Training.

With the news that Jack has been promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, I thought today would be the perfect time to look back at what me and him talked about during our phone conversation where we both covered a lot of ground.

Jack is 2-0 with three saves this season and a 1.53 ERA. He also has an incredible 55 strikeouts in 29.1 innings and 194 strikeouts in 114.0 innings overall during his minor league career.


After being taken by the Mets in the 5th round of the 2011 MLB draft, Jack has now completed two solid and exciting years as a pro, and has quickly risen up the ranks of many a Mets top prospects list. The talented southpaw has posted some dazzling strikeout numbers at each level as he quickly moves through the Mets system.

Jack, 22, is a well grounded young man who loves the game and has a profound respect for the art of pitching. He sees each new challenge as another opportunity to learn more about his craft and improving his approach. In my conversation with him, I could tell how important winning was to him and he often mentioned how much he wants to help his teammates and the team succeed.

In our interview, we discussed how far he has come in the last two years in terms of his development and what his goals are for this season. I asked him who he likens himself to, some of the players he’s looked up to, the things he’s learned as a pro, and a host of other subjects. Enjoy the interview…

Joe D. – First of all congratulations on a successful second pro season last year and for helping St. Lucie get into the FSL playoffs. It must have been quite an exciting year for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at Here goes and reply back at your convenience.

Joe D. – When did your workout schedule begin and can you describe your regimen and how you stay in shape in the offseason?

Jack - I started working about September 10 which was about five days after the season ended. I work out and train at Cresse Performance where they have a new facility with everything we need. I know Eric Cresse personally and he’s the best of the best. It’s a large facility and a lot of the pros all go there — they have two cages and two mounds, a full staff and all the workout equipment you need.

Joe D. – What specifically do you work on when you’re Cresse’s, do you have a specific program or regimen that you go through?

Jack – They designed a personal workout program that is suited to my needs and goals. It focuses on heavy legs, shoulder care, and of course arm care. After a long season, stuff starts to break down and you need to get it back to full strength.

Joe D. – How was your stamina at the end of the season?

Jack – It was good. After my first year in 2011, going from my final college season and then onto Brooklyn, I got very tired at the end of the season and I just broke down. I learned how hard a season can be and how long it is. That offseason I learned that there are things I can do that will help me stay strong all year. I don’t really take a long break after the season ends and I prefer instead to workout and build my strength and stamina. I did a pretty good job last year and I stayed strong and felt better because of it. That’s why it was important for me to continue what I started as far as working out after the season. so that I could take care of my arm so that I could keep it as fresh as it can be. Having a tired arm my first year was one of the worst things.

Joe D. – What was the most important lesson you took from last season?

Jack – Being more consistent. Last season I was blessed because I got to work with two great pitching coaches, Frank Viola and Phil Regan. Those two are the best of the best and there aren’t two better pitching coaches anywhere. Sometimes I can get a little inconsistent with my mechanics and that’s always been my biggest downfall. But those two really helped me to become more consistent with my delivery. Also, I sometimes have a tendency to start flying open a little bit and I end up leaving too many balls up which can get me into trouble. But they taught me how to keep the ball down more consistently and especially with my breaking ball and changeup.

Joe D. - Describe your arsenal for me.

Jack - I only throw a four-seam fast ball, I don’t throw a two-seamer any more because it was slower and flatter, so now I just stick with the four-seamer. My other two pitchers are a slider and change-up, I guess you’d say that’s pretty standard for a lefty.

Joe D. - What kind of action and movement do you have on your fastball, it’s obviously missing a lot of bats.

Jack - It runs in late and has nice action. I try to keep it low in the zone and outside with it early, and then I like to come in on a hitter late in the count. My goal is to try and catch the hitter off guard.

Joe D. - Are you working on any new pitches or are you going to stick with those three for now?

Jack - Obviously I’ve thought about it and I’ve thought about a cutter or something like that. But I don’t really believe that the more pitches you can throw the better you are. I’ve really worked hard this offseason to make my three pitches the best that they can be. Trying to work on a new pitch can make you lose sight of making the pitches you already throw, better. I think it’s important for me right now to focus and just work on refining the pitches I already have. It would be great to come into a game and have all three of them pitches working like they’re supposed to all at once.

Joe D. – Do you have a particular way that you like to go after hitters? What is your mindset when you take the mound? Do you have the same approach whether there are runners on base or not?

Jack – No, not really. I go up there and I’m just trying to get ahead in the count and get some outs. I’m not afraid to let them hit the ball, especially at this level where I know my teammates have my back and so far they have been unbelievable. They are out there making all the plays and I trust them. I try not to think about the situation and I pretty much prefer to just go after guys and attack that situation pitch by pitch. I try to stay calm and my goal is to keep my team in it and hopefully we end up with the “W” after the game.

Joe D. – So Basically you’re telling me you like to get up on the mound and just start pounding the zone, going after each hitter one at a time, and not being afraid to pitch to contact? You’re pretty much telling the hitter, “here’s my best pitch, take your best shot at it?”

Jack – Absolutely. Exactly. But don’t get me wrong… If I read the pitching report and I know that a hitter can’t hit a breaking ball then he’ll get the best breaking ball I can throw. I’m not trying to over-think things, I try to stay focused on how to get a hitter out. I believe that if I can make good pitches, I’m gonna get most guys out. I trust all of my pitches.

Joe D. – Are those pitching reports a big part of your preparation before each game?

Jack – Oh yeah. At the higher levels from what I’ve noticed you pay attention to details more and I learn a bunch about hitters from my teammates as well. I like to hang around the older guys who come to St. Lucie to do their rehabs – you can really learn so much from them and they are always willing to help. There’s a lot that goes into pitching. But the bottom line is that you really have to use your head out there and not over-think everything so much.

Joe D. – Normally, when you look at a lefthanded reliever and check out his splits you expect to see that he dominates lefthanded hitters more than righthanded hitters. Last season, LH hitters hit only .256 against you in St. Lucie, not bad. But you held RH hitters to a .205 average. Is that normal for you?

Jack – Actually, I didn’t even know those numbers. I don’t think about that too much. Obviously I have a different game plan for left-handed and right-handed hitters, but I basically try to stick with the same stuff – try to attack with my fastball and use my offspeed stuff when I need to. I mean lefty or righty, it doesn’t really make a difference to me – I don’t really mind facing either and you do have to get good at facing both of them.

Joe D. – We often see many left-handed relievers steered towards careers as a bullpen specialist in the majors or pigeon-holed into a LOOGY role. But sometimes you come across a southpaw like you that possesses great crossover stuff and is highly effective against both leftys and rightys. A lot of us are excited about the possibilities of your future moving forward with the Mets.

Jack – Thank you.

Joe D. – You started out last season with a bang, I mean you were untouchable. Then you had a couple of bumpy months in June and August, but you finished extremely strong and held the opposition to a .194 batting average in your last ten appearances with 24 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched. Did you make some sort of an adjustment toward the end?

Jack – It’s a long season and I’ve learned a lot last year about myself and about pitching. I went through a little rut those months and at the time it was really frustrating and I was being really hard on myself. But as I look back, it made me a lot better in the long run. It’s a learning process — there’s a reason why every pitcher doesn’t have a zero ERA. You’re gonna get hit at some point and what’s important is how you bounce back and that you are better because of it. I was unhappy at times obviously, but it was good and I’m happy now because I went through it and learned a lot from that last year. It was good.

Joe D. – From many of the other players I’ve watched and spoken to over the years, one of the common things I hear about when they are going through a rut, is that eventually they came out of it once they stopped thinking so much about it. The ones who come out of it quickly are the ones who stay positive, go back to basics, keep within themselves and basically start having some fun again.

Jack –  Absolutely. Baseball is a game, but I also understand that it’s my job and I take that very seriously. What matters most to me is that the team is winning. No matter what I will always give my best effort when I’m out there so that me and my teammates win as many games as we can. I try to keep my emotions to myself and try to think positive all the time. Negative thoughts are not only going to make it tough on you, but it also makes it tough on your teammates and you don’t want to do that. Just like you said, it’s all about staying positive, keeping it fun and remembering it’s a game.

Joe D. – Don’t ever forget that, Jack.

Jack – Definitely, I won’t.

Joe D. - This will be your second spring with the Mets. What do they have you doing this spring? What do they have you focusing on?

Jack – I haven’t had a chance to discuss what the plan is with my coaches yet, but I can tell you that I’m in the best shape I can possibly be in and that my arm feels great and I’m ready to go. It doesn’t really matter to me what their plan for me is, I’m more focused on doing what ever they need me to do to help the team win. Wherever I end up this season, my mindset never changes, I want to help my team win.

Joe D. – Speaking of where you end up, I have every reason to believe that we’ll be seeing you at Double-A Binghamton – perhaps even to begin the season. Going from High-A to AA is probably the biggest and most challenging jump for any prospect. How do you prepare for something like? What do you need to focus on to excel at that next level?

Jack – I try not to think about that too much. I’m just going to always try and put myself in a situation where I’m playing at my best and then see what happens from there.

Joe D. – So what are you saying – you’re a “take-it-as-it-comes” type of guy?

Jack – Absolutely. But look, I’ve heard that Double-A is a big jump and the that hitters are so much better up there and harder to get out, but that’s why I’ve been working on improving my offspeed pitches this offseason. And that’s why I’m very focused on trying to refine everything right now especially my offspeed stuff.

Joe D. – Since the end of last season, I’ve been telling anyone that will listen that you are the best left-hander in the system AND that I wouldn’t be shocked to see you in the majors as soon as 2013. Fast forward three months later… During a Q&A with season ticket holders at Citi Field in February, Mets Exec J.P. Ricciardi was asked what prospect he was most excited to see this season. Dude, he picked you! And not only that, he said you’re one of the prospects who could get a taste of the big leagues at some point this year. What have you got to say about that?

Jack – (After a nice chuckle) You know thanks so much, and J.P. – well he’s a great guy, and we have a pretty good relationship. That’s great, but it doesn’t really mean anything until I can go out there and do it and prove that I belong. I need to go out there this season and do my thing. I need to show them that I deserve to climb the ladder. Actions speak a lot louder than words. I’m gonna show up, let them know that I’m happy to be here, and that I’m ready to go. Let’s see what happens.

Joe D. - You spent some time in Savannah to start last season before finishing up in St. Lucie. Tell our readers what teammate you were you most impressed with last season and why? Who really stood out to you last year and who should Met fans be really excited about?

T.J. Rivera batted .320/.372/.444 for Savannah and St. Lucie in 2012.

Jack - Oh yeah, definitely T.J. Rivera - he’s the one. He’s the real deal. I’ve never been around a kid who prepares as well as he does. He just really loves the game and it seems like every time I see him he’s out on the field working on something. Rivera plays hard and is completely balls to the wall – he’ll do anything to make sure we win. He’s a great teammate and obviously a great player and everybody should be real excited about him. If he continues the great things he did last season, and I’m pretty sure that he will, he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

Joe D. – What baseball team did you root for growing up? Who is your favorite player? Is there a major league player, past or present, that you think you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself pitching like someday in the majors?

Jack – I was a Boston Red Sox fan growing up, but my favorite player has always been Tom Glavine actually.

Joe D. – No kidding? Glavine huh… Most Met fans are very familiar with that guy. What are some of the comparisons you’ve heard about yourself?

Jack – Obviously every pitcher is different, but I hear the name Billy Wagner a lot, although I must admit I don’t have the stuff he has.

Joe D. – Don’t sell yourself short. In preparing for this interview I discovered your numbers compared amazingly well to Billy Wagner at the same age and level, and you both have similar builds and height. Your strikeout  and walk rates, and your WHIP, BAA, K/BB are actually all significantly better, and I for one am very excited about that.

Jack – I mean that’s what I’ve heard too, but I’m just trying to be my own player. Billy Wagner, man I loved watching him on the mound, he was just fearless every time he pitched. He couldn’t care less who was up at the plate because he knew he was going to get that batter out. And as for Tom Glavine, his command was ridiculous – he could the ball anywhere he wanted. I remember the times my dad and I would sit on our couch to see him pitch – analyzing everything about the way he pitched. He was fun to watch.

Joe D. – Give me a message for the fans… What do you want to tell them as we wrap this baby up?

Jack – I just want to win this year, wherever the team decides to put me. I’m committed to winning. I owe that to myself and my teammates. I’m going to go out there and do my job and that is to get outs  - pitch by pitch. My desire is to win and I want to represent the Mets organization well.

Joe D. – Thanks so much, Jack. Go out there and have a kick-ass season….

Jack – You bet, it’s been a pleasure

Jack’s been my sleeper since the day we drafted him… Look for big things from him in 2013 and even a late call-up. You can follow Jack Leathersich on Twitter at @LeatherRocket.

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Is Collins The Blame For Team’s Poor Performance, Or Is He Just The Patsy? Sun, 19 May 2013 14:21:30 +0000 Terry CollinsWhile all the talk lately has been about whether or not it’s time to end the Terry Collins era as manager of the Mets, how much of the blame for the team’s poor performance should be equally shared with the architect and general manager, Sandy Alderson?

Joel Sherman of the New York Post, pops the question and defends Collins, saying:

“It is relatively easy to argue his second-year team had worse talent than his first and this, his third team, has worse talent than his second…That is why I have no idea if Collins is a good manager or not. Showalter would lose big with this team, and so would Tony La Russa and Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel. Or some cloned combo of all of them.”

Sherman draws a comparison between what Collins has been given to work with as compared to the last Mets manager to succeed, Willie Randolph.

“He was given Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Billy Wagner to team with the young Jose Reyes and David Wright and the still-succeeding Tom Glavine. Collins has had the opposite, pretty much — the removal of anything approaching veteran talent from this roster and a bunch of booby prizes put in their place.”

This is about lack of talent, not Collins, he goes onto write. And as I’ve been maintaining since the offseason, Collins will indeed be the sacrificial lamb – that much was true when he was allowed to go into this season as a lame duck manager.

But as Sherman concludes, no Mets manager ever will get a truly fair judgment if Sandy Alderson never figures out how to enrich the talent level of the 25-man roster.

Last week, I wrote how the most frustrating thing about Alderson’s first three years as the Mets’ GM, is that there is not one keeper he brought in on the MLB squad – not one major league player in three seasons.

While we hope the farm is as good and improved as we think it is, ultimately those determinations are only made in the major leagues and not from a prospect ranking list. That’s how it’s always been in the ol’ ball game…

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Was Valdespin Sent Up By Collins To Get Hit? Mon, 13 May 2013 18:56:35 +0000 jordany-valdespin

Updated by Joe D. at 2:30 PM

Just caught this on MetsBlog who seems to have just caught on to what has been a two day debate here:

It almost sounds like Collins put Valdespin in a situation he knew would end up with a hit-by-pitch, maybe in an effort to teach Valdespin a lesson, right? If that’s the case, is that why Valdespin threw a ‘tantrum,’ as fans and media have described it?

Unfortunately, we’ll never know if Collins sent Valdespin up to hit knowing he’d be beaned, in a game down nine runs. And, there is no way to know if his teammates were really indifferent, even though that’s what it looked like. I hope this isn’t the case. I really hope Collins didn’t risk getting a player injured, just so the youngster could learn a lesson. I also hope Terry’s players don’t go on to question his leadership because of it, even if the guys understand his reasoning. In other words, I really hope this just goes away…

Matt, first welcome to the party. Also, you may want to read my post entitled, “This Team Is Fractured”. It has even more insights in it that will help you realize what’s going on.

One thing though, your closing comment, “I really hope this goes away.”

Sitting on one’s hands and saying ten Hail Mary’s is not going to make this go away. It’s Terry Collins who should go away and I believe you know the reason why.

Aren’t you the one who always says, “hope is not a strategy”?

It would be great if we could wish this into the cornfield, but a fractured clubhouse is not just going to go away all by itself. This is not the first time we’ve seen Collins divide a major league clubhouse…

Do you really believe that Valdespin was showing up the Pirates and not Terry Collins when he hit that homer? Watch it again… What do you see…

Do you think Collins didn’t know that bat flip was intended for him and not the Pirates?

Weren’t you right there at the post game?

“I know he’s trying to make a statement because he hasn’t been in the lineup. I know he’s trying to make a statement to everybody what he can do. If he keeps hitting homers, he can stand at home plate all he wants, I guess. As long as they start coming up at the right time.”

Collins sent Valdespin up there to get his just desserts as one of our readers pointed out.

It’s not as unbelievable as it sounds, it’s human nature to want to get even.

Luckily he wasn’t seriously injured.

That said, Valdespin needs some reprimanding, some friendship, some understanding, and some baseball etiquette. That much is also clear.

Original Post May 13, 12:00 PM

They say that the cream always rises to the top. Except of course when you don’t use it and just let it sit around and spoil.

That’s what continues to happen with Jordany Valdespin.

In the latest chapter of the New York soap opera titled “El Dramático,” Valdespin was intentionally hit by a pitch by Pirates reliever Bryan Morris. This stemmed from Valdespin’s prolonged admiration of his 426-foot moonshot into the Pepsi Porch in the latter innings of Friday’s lopsided loss.

It isn’t troubling that Valdespin basked in his bomb on Friday or that he even got hit by a pitch Saturday. What’s troubling is the lack of support from his teammates and the coaching staff.

In the often glorified unwritten rules of baseball, it states that a team is informally granted permission to peg a player if he showboats after a home run. I get that. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but it’s something I’ve learned to accept as a baseball fan.

david wright

What bothers me is that no one is there to have his back when it happens. David Wright went on the record after Saturday’s loss and offered a somewhat head-scratching statement about the incident.

“You’ve got guys that support Valdespin, and guys obviously are trying to help him,” Wright said. ”I think toning down some of his flair might be appropriate.”

So what he said is that guys support him, but he should tone it down? I don’t see how publicly concurring with the over-the-top perception of Valdespin is showing support. Wright was dubbed as the team’s captain to begin the season, but I’ve seen little in the way of upholding that title. Sure, he’s produced on the field this season, but as long as Valdespin wears that orange and blue uniform, he deserves the support of every player on that roster. It’s a captain’s job to ensure that.

terry collins

That leads me to Terry Collins’ management. If there was any speculation as to Collins’ disdain for the Mets’ productive bench player, it seemed to be dispelled Saturday night. With the Mets down 10-1 in the 7th inning, Collins forced Valdespin into the game to receive what he thought Valdespin had coming to him. Sure enough, Valdespin was drilled in the right forearm.

“They threw at him,” Collins said. “I knew they might. It’s part of the game.”

Collins’ rationale was that he didn’t want to burn two bench players by using Mike Baxter. So at the expense of wasting an additional bench player in a bigger blowout than the night before, he threw Valdespin into the fray. The brief moment was a microcosm of the prodigious disconnects between Valdespin and the Mets.

Valdespin went on to “throw a fit” in the dugout after the inning ended according to SNY’s Kevin Burkhardt, who was very boisterous about the incident over Twitter and showed his lack of support for the Mets utility man.

For the most part, I enjoy Burkhardt, but I think he’s the one who’s a little lost. I find it sort of unprofessional to go on the Internet and talk about a Major League baseball player’s lack of understanding. I mean, he did make it to the Major Leagues after all. I’d venture to say he has a pretty firm grasp on the game Kev-o, but thanks for your insight. It’ll be interesting to see Burkhardt’s postgame interview after Valdespin’s next walkoff.

Valdespin refused to address the media about the incident after the game.

If you don’t like the guy, trade him. If you can’t stand a guy for outwardly expressing his emotions on the field, tell him behind closed doors. Don’t make a mockery of him by having him walk the plank on national television and then telling the media he should tone it down. With teammates like that, who needs opponents?

I seem to recall a championship team in 1986 that had copious amounts of player tension. The Mets were also loathed for their frequent curtain calls and arrogant attitudes. That was their identity. Now their identity is the evident lack thereof.

The media circus that has surrounded this team is getting out of hand. I dislike having to spend the first half of the season contributing to this debacle. There are more disconcerting issues on this team.

jon niese

Jonathon Niese’s consistent struggles are putting more pressure on Matt Harvey to perform. If Harvey doesn’t continue his unimaginable season, the fan base will alienate themselves further from the team. If Harvey does continue and the Mets don’t figure things out offensively, he could grow old of this team and be gone for good. I don’t know how many times you can expect a guy to throw nine innings of one-hit baseball without giving up a run and settle for a no decision. It’s those kinds of games that will make a guy lose interest.

Daniel Murphy is mired in a horrific 9-for-61 slump. He’s been a solid hitter for the Mets and they’re going to need his bat if they want things to get better.

Ike Davis has been so bad that he’s been seeing bench time. When he is playing, he still can’t get it together. Fellow MMO writer John Delcos expressed his feelings on the first baseman’s future:

“Davis’ slow start should definitely cause the Mets to resist the temptation of signing him to a multi-year extension. Davis is hitting a paltry .170 with a .270 on-base percentage. He already has 35 strikeouts with just 17 hits and 13 walks. He has four homers and eight RBI.”

I’ve gone on a little longer than I normally do. I haven’t been a Mets fan as long as many of you who go back to the sixties and seventies, but I can safely say this is the worst state I’ve ever seen this franchise in. What happened in that game ranks up there with Tom Glavine‘s meltdown in 2007 in the way it felt. A real punch in the gut.

It’s hard to tell where the Mets go from here. In all probability, this will be swept under the front office’s Persian rugs instead of being used as a way to band together. The only silver lining is a morbid one. Things can’t get any worse.

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ESPN: Why The Mets Opted Not To Insure Santana’s Contract Fri, 29 Mar 2013 01:23:46 +0000 Johan santana Subway

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, does a fine job of explaining why the Mets chose not to insure Johan Santana’s contract.

The Mets will be on the hook for the remaining $31 million owed to Johan Santana because they did not insure the contract.  Why?

As premiums have skyrocketed because of escalating salaries and past payouts — such as the bailout when Mo Vaughn was owed $17 million and could not play for the Mets in 2004 — the organization began more often “self-insuring” its larger contracts than seeking outside coverage. In essence, the Mets chose to create a rainy-day fund available so that the organization would not be crippled financially by the loss of a key player due to injury.

It saves potentially a $2 million insurance premium per year to protect a contract, although the amount annually paid to an insurance company naturally decreases as the years on the contract elapse — like you’d pay less to an insurance company on a car as the years go by and the vehicle is worth less.

Across baseball, outside insurance has “declined tremendously,” according to one baseball official.

Santana was self-insured by the Mets, whereas the Mets contracts for Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Tom Glavine and Mike Piazza’s were insured externally during their Mets days as well. David Wright’s last contract also was insured externally.

You can read the rest of the article including all the details here.

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Why Do Mets Pitchers March To The Beat Of Their Own Drums? Fri, 22 Mar 2013 13:22:41 +0000 shaun marcumWhat is it with the Mets and their starting pitchers? Giving them near total control hasn’t worked. It didn’t for Willie Randolph and Jerry Manuel, and it isn’t for Terry Collins.

The impression is the tail is wagging the dog when it comes to Mets’ starters, and this isn’t new. Pitchers tend to be divas by nature, but it has gone to another level with the Mets.

Clearly, free-agent Shaun Marcum did not report to spring training ready to go by telling Collins and GM Sandy Alderson he only needed four starts to get ready. He was allowed to set his own pace, but obviously didn’t have the track record to deserve it.

Marcum received cortisone injections in each of the last three years, and last spring was down for nearly three weeks. Without question, this is a guy who should not be setting his own program.

Marcum vows 200 innings, a level he’s only reached once since 2005. His lifetime 57-36 record was why Alderson gave him the benefit of doubt, but his 124 innings last year should have accounted for something.

Wasn’t Marcum’s history and workout program discussed? If it was, then why agree to this?

Santana does have the resume to set his own program, but abused it when he threw off the mound without Collins’ knowledge the first week of March.

johan santana mets dodgers 072012The Mets said they monitored Santana in the off-season, and told him to go easy since he rehabbed the previous two winters. Something was lost in the communication as Santana wasn’t ready when spring training began and will open the season on the disabled list.

Collins said Santana knows his own body, but here’s a guy who hasn’t worked an inning all spring and at the beginning wanted to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Had he done so, the results could have been career threatening.

Early in camp, after Alderson questioned Santana’s conditioning, the lefthander, angry with the Mets and media, threw off the mound without his manager’s knowledge. Collins wasn’t happy then and now must be fuming because Santana has done little since and has no set timetable. One must wonder how much that stunt set him back.

There are other examples of how the Mets let their starting pitches get away with setting their own routine that ended badly.

In 2009, Mike Pelfrey refused to go on the disabled list and miss a start and insisted on the start being pushed back. To placate him, the Mets brought up a starter from the minors, but to make room released reliever Darren O’Day, who only proved to be a key in the Rangers getting to the World Series twice.

O’Day has worked 247.2 innings in his five-year career with 217 strikeouts, 63 walks, a 2.73 ERA and 1.058 WHIP. The Mets don’t have anybody with that production in their current bullpen.

The Mets also let Pedro Martinez march to his own tune with mixed results for several years. Is Pedro pitching today? What’s going on with Pedro? It was like that every spring.

The Mets did everything they could, including alienating a future Hall of Famer, Tom Glavine, to placate Martinez and his whims.Of course, don’t forget Oliver Perez, whom former GM Omar Minaya signed to a disastrous three-year contract. The height of the absurdity is when Perez refused a minor league assignment – as was his contractual right – to work on his mechanics.

Consequently, the Mets carried him the rest of the season rather than release him and eat his contract, which they eventually did the following spring.

Funny, the Mets once had the stones – but no brains – and traded Tom Seaver, who wasn’t happy with his contract. Now it seems they don’t have either, as the trend is obvious, from Alderson to Minaya, and with each of the managers, to let some starters dictate to them how things would be and it turned out for the worse.

Will it be that way in 2013 with Marcum and Santana?

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Congratulations to David Wright – Our Captain Fri, 22 Mar 2013 03:08:59 +0000 the captain dw

The Mets made it official this afternoon and named David Wright the team’s captain, joining a select group that includes John FrancoKeith Hernandez and Gary Carter.

“This is probably one of the proudest days of my career so far,” Wright said. “I’m honored and very proud to be on that short list of guys that have been considered captain of this franchise. For me, it’s a dream come true, to say the least.”

There has been speculation for years – as far back when Willie Randolph was manager – and intensified  this winter when Wright was signed to a $138-million eight-year extension. Manager Terry Collins said at the start of spring training it was something he was considering, but needed to run it through GM Sandy Alderson and COO Jeff Wilpon, as well as poll the clubhouse.

It was a foregone conclusion the announcement would be made prior to Opening Day. According to ESPN, Wilpon said the second Wright signed the contract there was nothing else to think about.

“When you commit that kind of money and resources that we have to a guy like this, you want to make sure he’s the leader,” chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. “And he’s proven to be that.”

During the Randolph era, the manager said the promotion might be awkward because that team was loaded with veterans such as Carlos Delgado – who became a mentor to Jose Reyes – Carlos Beltran, and pitchers Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez.

At the time, Randolph said there wasn’t a need for a captain because of the veteran influence. Then came the Jerry Manuel era, but the team was so bad it seemed like a futile gesture.

Even so, Wright was always the face of the franchise, and the one player the media sought out for analysis on the Mets or anything else relating to baseball.

wright spring

Wright will not wear a “C” on his uniform, but his leadership has been obvious in the clubhouse for years. Once, Reyes wanted to stay in a game, but was clearly hobbled. Wright, knowing an injured Reyes could be a liability told the manager, then Manuel.

Wright has worked closely with the pitchers and was one of the few players who could reach Mike Pelfrey when he was losing concentration. He often goes to the mound when a rattled pitcher needs to catch his breath.

With the Mets moving in a youth direction, there was no veteran presence other than Wright, who, as an All-Star had the talent to back up the promotion.

At the start of camp, Wright said being captain would be an honor, but wanted it through his teammates and not an edict from ownership or management.

“This is where I wanted to start my career and finish my career,” Wright said. “I feel very comfortable and very confident in this role.”


Today was just a formality. Wright has captained this team through good times and bad for the last five years. From the moment Wright was first called up, he has shown himself to be a leader in every sense of the word and has done so with integrity and honor.

He was never one to run and hide after an awful loss or those forgettable collapses in 2007 and 2008. Instead he  stood front and center in front of his locker and was always willing to take the bullet for the team.

As the years wore on, Wright eventually assumed the role of team ambassador, and no player in franchise history has done a better job despite the the negativity he was forced to navigate in. Despite it all, he always stood strong and wore his team colors proudly.

His record of accomplishments speak for themselves and he leads the team in over a dozen different offensive categories, many of which will likely never be broken.

Wright is too modest to wear the “C” on his uniform like all of his predecessors have. Instead he gets the “C” for class by all of us here at Mets Merized Online.

A heartfelt congratulations to David Wright – Our Captain.

button WRIGHT

Contributed to by John Delcos.

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Johan Santana A Hero? No, No, No Sat, 09 Mar 2013 16:46:41 +0000 johan-santana no-hitter

A pair of Chicago Cubs centerfielders, Jimmy Qualls (1969) and Joe Wallis (1975), stole two of Tom Seaver’s early bids for a no-hitter. One year after being traded from New York to Cincinnati, Seaver threw a no-hitter for the Reds. Nolan Ryan never pitched a no-hitter – as a New York Met – but after being traded to the California Angels in 1971 he nudged Mets fans every couple years, throwing seven no-hitters.

“Every time he pitched you expected a no-hitter – or 15 strikeouts,” said Jay Horwitz, Mets VP/Public Relations, referring to Dwight Gooden.

In May 1996, Gooden tossed the only no-hitter of his career – as a member of the New York Yankees. Even Duffy Dyer had to leave the New York Mets to catch his first no-hitter (John Candelaria, Pittsburgh, 1975), 11 years before Josh Thole was born.

Four years later, in 2000, amidst a slow start and turmoil over comments Mets manager Bobby Valentine made during a speech at Penn’s Wharton School of Business, Mets ace Al Leiter attempted to lighten the mood. “I think I’m going to have to throw a no-hitter today to get the back page in New York with all the stuff going on,” he said. Starting against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the road, Leiter surrendered a second-inning lead-off home run to Wil Cordero, crushing the hopes and promise of the first-ever Mets no-hitter.

John Maine was on the brink, again, in 2007, until Florida Marlins catcher light-hitting catcher Paul Hoover reached on an infield single with two outs in the eighth inning. Maine settled for a one-hit, complete game shutout but, again, hopes of a no-hitter were dashed.

There were other close calls before, after and in between those chronicled here, but you get the idea. The New York Mets avoided no-hitters for a half-century. It was baffling at times. How could the pitching-rich Mets not have a no-hitter?

Seaver, Ryan, Gooden, Leiter, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Craig Swan, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, Mike Hampton, Bret Saberhagen, Frank Viola, Bob Ojeda, Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine; over 50 years of baseball the stars never aligned, not for a single summer’s night, for Steve Trachsel, George Stone, Rick Reed, Bobby Jones, Orlando Hernandez, Dave Mlicki, Pete Harnisch, Pete Falcone or Pat Zachry? No, no and no. Game after game, season after season the Mets were denied.

To blunt the pain and frustration, Mets fans turned the no-hit quest into a punchline. On any given night during the season a Mets fan could grab their smartphone, tap the Twitter icon and wait for [insert pitcher’s name here] to give up the first hit of the game which, inevitably, led to a tweet along the lines of:

Well, not tonight #Mets fans. That’s 7,952 games without a no-hitter.

So, on June 1, 2012, when Johan Santana became the first pitcher in Mets team history to throw a no-hitter, fans celebrated. I celebrated. In fact, the New York Daily News and New York Post back pages hang on my office wall. It was a big deal. But that’s where the road forks for me and many Mets fans.

Last week, amidst controversy over Santana’s health, Mets blogger Ted Berg tweeted:

Johan Santana returned from career-threatening surgery and pitched the first Mets no-hitter. He could show up 300 lbs. and he’d still be my hero.

Thirty-five people re-tweeted the post. I am not sure if the reaction was a symbol of support or fans just wanted to share his message with the baseball world. Either way, I disagree. Yes, I was amazed by Santana’s drive to come back and perform like the two-time Cy Young Award winner he once was with the Minnesota Twins. No, Santana should not be labeled a hero for one game.

SNY’s Chris Carlin dished out a portion of these stats on Twitter, to which another Mets fan replied:

Fair, for first no-hitter in Mets history.

Fair? Really? This is a sad – and misguided – statement.

When the Mets traded six players for Santana in 2008 they also agreed to sign him to a six-year, $101.5 million contract. Since then, he’s made 109 regular season starts, winning 46 games. He’s earned over $900,000/start in New York, or, $2.2 million per win. He missed all of the 2011 season and one-half of the 2012 season (because of the wear and tear he put on his arm pitching the no-hitter).

Remember the day you heard the news that the Mets had finally acquired Santana from the Twins? I do. Expectations were high. After the crushing collapse at the end of the 2007 season, Santana symbolized a renewed hope that 2008 would be different. Of course, it wasn’t. The point is: Santana was going to help the Mets win; a division, a league championship, maybe a World Series. You did believe that, then, right?

Hypothetically, would you give back the no-hitter if the Mets could have had a healthy Johan Santana in July, August and September? I would. I am of the mindset that winning baseball games, not pitching no-hitters or breaking records, is the goal. I am most happy when the Mets are winning. It doesn’t matter how, but if the Mets win.

Let’s face it, Santana’s not coming back after the 2013 season (if he’s not traded earlier). Over five seasons in New York he’s been closer to a disappointment than hero. Call me naive, but I expected more than one no-hitter from Santana, but thanks for the memory (singular).

Read more of my thoughts on baseball at

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MMO Exclusive Interview: Mets Pitching Prospect Hamilton Bennett Sat, 25 Feb 2012 19:37:09 +0000

I had the chance to talk to New York Mets left-handed pitching prospect Hamilton Bennett by phone the other day. Ham is taking care of last minute preparations at his home in North Carolina before making the drive to Port St. Lucie, for the start of Spring Training. After being taken by the Mets in the 29th round of the 2010 MLB draft, Hamilton has now logged two very solid years in pro ball. In our conversation we discussed how far Ham has come in the last two years, how he has sharpened his game and his mental approach. He even details how a teammate in the minors last year really helped him to accelerate his development, and how it is motivating him heading into the 2012 season. Keep reading to see what other interesting stuff Hamilton had to say:

Petey:  First of all congratulations Hamilton on a successful second pro season!  You threw lights out this past year at Savannah pitching as their closer, helping them win the Southern Division of the South Atlantic League, and pitching in the playoffs. It must have been quite an exciting year for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our readers at Did you spend the off-season back home in North Carolina?

Hamilton:  Actually in Charlotte, North Carolina, I did. I spent time with my friends and family, and had a good, relaxing time after a long season.

Petey:  That’s nice to hear, so you got your batteries all recharged huh?

Hamilton:  Recharged and ready to go.

Petey:  Okay, so when the Mets drafted you out of Tennessee Wesleyan College (TN) in the 29th round of the 2010 MLB Player Draft, how did you first hear about it, and what was that feeling like?

Hamilton:  To be honest, I was playing summer ball at Winchester, Virginia, at the time. And I didn’t talk to a single scout, at all.

Petey:  Wow!

Hamilton:  I know, it was pretty shocking, and so after a game, I think I pitched the game and got a win, I checked my phone, and had about 20 phone calls, 30 text messages, and the first thing that popped in my mind was that something happened to my family. Either my mom, my dad, my sister, just because I never thought MLB Draft. And so after listening to some voice-mails and checking some text messages, and all that, I finally realized I was drafted. I couldn’t believe it and went online and actually saw my name was called by the Mets. It was a really surreal feeling just to actually now get the chance to live out the childhood dream that I’ve been pursuing since I was 8 years-old.

Petey:  That’s so awesome! Is there a person or two, a coach, a friend or family member, or even another player, who you have learned the most from, or who inspired you to chase your dream of one day becoming a major league baseball player?

Hamilton:  Well, probably two people baseball-wise. As the mental side and mechanically and all that, it was Tom Glavine. Growing up in Braves country, I mean all we got to see on TV was the Atlanta Braves. And so, that’s who I wanted to be. That’s the career I wanted to have. And then another gentleman, Greg Pandarvis, who was my high school coach, was real big on just pursuing your dream. Regardless of it being a truck driver, a baseball player, a student, whatever it is just chase your dream. So he really inspired me to push, and give all my energy towards my goal.

Petey:  When you came out of college you were throwing your fastball around 86-90 mph. After two years in the professional ranks has it gone up a few ticks?

Hamilton:  It’s probably in the low 90′s now. Cause out of college I was a starter. So I was sorta trying to make it through seven innings. Instead of now, as a reliever, to be honest I’m just going out there for one or two innings throwing as hard as I can.

Petey:  Yeah lettin’ it all hang out.

Hamilton: Really.

Petey:  Very cool. What kind of movement are you getting on your fastball?

Hamilton:  Actually my fastball has got a lot of movement. And it’s funny because down in Savannah, they nicknamed my fastball “The Invisible.” Just because it’s not like it was a trick 96 mile an hour fastball. But for some reason nobody could hit it so they kept calling it The Invisible. It moves. My fastball sorta has a little bit of sinking action to it. And I throw a circle change-up that has down and outward movement. And then my curveball is real slow and loopy, 12-6.

Petey:  When you started your pro career you said you wanted to work on your curve-ball, make it a priority. Tighten the rotation and sharpen the break. Would you say the pitch is where you want it to be now?

Hamilton:  Absolutely. With the pitching coaches and the resources that I have now, I’m constantly trying to develop my curveball to be at a professional level to face the hitters that I’m facing. For the past few years that’s one thing I’ve really tried to work on my off-speed, curveball and change-up. And with Glenn Abbott last year as well as my Brooklyn pitching coach, Rick Tomlin, they really helped me get the best of my off-speed pitches.

Petey:  Are you working on adding any new pitches?

Hamilton:  I am. I’m trying to get something along the lines of a cutter, a slider. I’m just trying to work with those two and see which one feels better for me. I want something that’s hard, that moves a little bit more.

Petey:  What is the one most important thing you learned, or accomplished last year while pitching at Savannah?

Hamilton:  Just the mental side of being in pressure situations. I had never been a closer before, and so when they moved me to the closer role I totally had to learn, basically start fresh, I had to realize how to throw again, mentally. Then when we made it to the playoffs it was another learning experience. Cause I had never been in such a pressure filled situation. With the tying run on second base, one out, in the 9th inning. Away at Greensboro, it was real big, mentally challenging, but I thought it really developed me for the future, whether that’s in St. Lucie, Binghamton, Buffalo, or Citifield.

Petey:  You spent nearly all of last season at Savannah and pitched really well there. Your numbers were: 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 14 Saves. In 54 IP’s you gave up only 30 hits, 1 HR, walked 15 and struck out 56. Those were some excellent numbers. But there was a monkey wrench thrown in there. You spent a little time on the DL, what happened?

Hamilton:  Yeah it was one of those freak accidents, to be honest with you. After a game I pitched in Greenville, South Carolina,  against the Drive. To get to the locker room you have to go on the field. The locker room is actually behind the first-base dugout, and we’re in the third-base dugout. And so I was walking up and there was a step, and I was talking to a teammate of mine, and completely missed the step, and sprained my ankle. It was just a fluke, and it wasn’t anything serious, they just kept me out…I was on the 7-day DL, and then when I came back it still wasn’t a hundred percent. We knew we were going to the playoffs and they didn’t want to rush me back, so they took their time, making sure I was healthy, and that way I could get a hundred percent strength-wise, and get back on the mound with a fresh ankle basically. And I came back, and everything was fine.

Petey:  Wow, that’s really something.

Hamilton:  It was a freak accident. I’m left-handed so I’m kinda clumsy anyway.

Petey:  I’m not gonna comment, some of my best friends are lefties. How bout this, do you have any goals for next season?

Hamilton:  I always try to maintain the same goals. I always want to keep my ERA under two, for the season. I try to keep my walks under, like one walk every five innings. I want to average a strike out of a batter an inning. And then in the long-term picture, I’d love to throw for the Buffalo Bisons this year if I can. Just because they play against the Charlotte Knights, and that was sorta the team that I grew up going to games.

Petey: That would be cool.

Hamilton:  Yeah that’s my long-term minor league goal, is to play against the Charlotte Knights.

Petey:  When did your off-season workout schedule begin, and when did you start throwing?

Hamilton:  When I first got back I sorta took my time to relax, just watching the World Series with the Rangers and all. I took my time, and then I started lifting again after…I’d probably say the 1st of November. Started lifting again to get back in shape, not heavy but just real light to get my strength back. And then about after Christmas, is when I started throwing again. So I gave my arm a good three months off so it could recover fully and here now I’m just trying to sharpen everything right before I head back.

Petey:  Excellent. When is your reporting date for Spring Training?

Hamilton:  I report March 3rd. So I’ll probably leave around the 2nd, this way I can get down there and get settled in before the chaos starts.

Petey:  What do you like to do for fun over the off-season, when you are not working out, or doing baseball related activities?

Hamilton:  For fun, I’m coaching. I love helping children. That’s basically what I want to do. My major was in Education so I love to teach, coach, and I’m helping children before the high school seasons and all that start. I’m kind of a lazy person to be honest with you, if I could sit on the couch and watch TV, or watch Jeremy Lin with the Knicks or something like that, that’d make my night.

Petey:  Hah! That was going to be my last question for you! Best point guard in the NBA, Jeremy Lin?

Hamilton:  Absolutely. Between him and Chris Paul. Just because Chris Paul is from the North Carolina area, and so I got to support my Carolinians. But I’m really thrilled about what Jeremy Lin is doing for, not only the state of New York, but for the NBA.

Petey:  And for the world, China’s going Linsane!

Hamilton:  It’s unbelievable! And that’s what I put on Twitter and on Facebook, I’m so happy the Giants won the Super Bowl. And the Knicks are on a winning streak now, and so it’s good to see all the New York teams doing well.

Petey: Yeah it really is. Now all we gotta do is get the Mets to follow suit.

Hamilton:  Give us a couple of years, we’re in a little bit of a rebuilding stage, but we got a lot of talent in the minor leagues.

Petey:  We definitely do. I’ve been keeping a close watch on all you guys down there and we are definitely moving in the right direction. And I think the talent level has really come up quite a bit in the last couple of years.

Hamilton:  We’ve got a lot of talent, and we’ve got great coaching staffs who know what they’re doing development-wise. We’ve got real good trainers and strength coaches, so it’s going to be a lot of fun in the future, that’s for sure, for not only for New York, but for the whole organization.

Petey:  Now for a very serious question, Hamilton.

Hamilton: Okay.

Petey:  What is this huge uproar about your mustache? When I told a few Mets insiders I was planning on doing an interview with you, they all said. “Find out about his mustache! Make sure he still has it! Ask him how it’s doing!” So ummmmm, how’s your mustache Hamilton?

Hamilton:  (laughing) I do have my mustache, I’m in the process of growing it right now. It’ll be back. It was funny when I got drafted, being from South Carolina and going to school in Tennessee, and they sent me to Brooklyn, NY which I’ve never been to in my life. When I got there, everybody was calling me, like players and friends and all that were calling me, “Hey your the hillbilly from South Carolina!” And I was like, “I’m not a hillbilly, I’m, as my dad would say, a rural southerner.” But I was like, “You want to see a hillbilly?” And I found out that the Mets only allowed mustaches, as facial hair.

Petey:  Really?

Hamilton:  In the minor leagues, nothing below the mouth. So I grew it. They said you cannot shave it. I had some fans love it as well. And then Brooklyn ended up giving me a promo night called “Hamilton Bennett’s Mustache Mayhem.” I mean it was one of those things that I just did as a joke, and now it stuck with me.

Petey:  That is really a great story. So what do you think? Best baseball mustache ever?

Hamilton:  Ever? It would be Rollie Fingers.

Petey:  Yeah, of course he’s a classic.

Hamilton:  Yeah you can’t compete with the whole twisty, curly, bees-waxed mustache, you can’t compete with it.

Petey:  You really can’t. But I gave it a little bit of thought, and I think I came up with a guy who deserves an honorable mention.

Hamilton:  Who would that be?

Petey:  I’m goin back a little ways, so I don’t know if you remember the Mad Hungarian, Al Hrabosky. He was a left-handed reliever who used to pitch for the Cardinals among other teams. He had a whole schtick where, in a big spot, he would go to the back of the mound and put himself into a trance, it was weird.

Hamilton: I’ll have to look him up, but I’d say Fingers sticks out, and then if you look back, if you watch a classic baseball game on ESPN classics, and watch one in the 80′s. I mean Wally Backman had a mustache. So there’s a lot of guys that had a mustache, I’m trying to bring the baseball pastime back to it’s original roots….

Petey:  …of the mustache! Wally still has his by-the-way. Well they say that fashion goes in cycles. Everything comes back into fashion eventually.

Hamilton:  That’s what I’m trying to do with the mustache. And then, I mean it caught on because the closer with the Milwaukee Brewers this past year had a mustache.

Petey:  Yeah, and look at what the beard did for Brian Wilson.

Hamilton:  Exactly, everybody’s got their own little thing going for them, and I guess mine is the mustache.

Petey:  Is there a major league player, past or present, that you would say you are similar to in style? Or someone that you can see yourself pitching like someday in the majors?

Hamilton:  Hmmm, honestly if you look at my mechanics, and put Tom Glavine next to me side by side, they’re identical. Just because when I was growing up, my father never played baseball, so what he would do is just record the Braves games, and telling me your doing this like Tom Glavine, your doing that like Tom Glavine, and that’s who I followed.

Petey:  Very interesting.

Hamilton:  And mentally, as a reliever, I want to have that role, I know it’s weird, but like a Mariano Rivera. I mean whenever they need Mariano Rivera to come in and get three outs, that’s who they call on.

Petey:  Yeah he’s money in the bank.

Hamilton:  And that’s the sort of mentality I’m trying to take on. Whoever my manager is whether it’s Terry Collins with the Mets, or somebody in the minor leagues, if they need somebody to come in and get three or six outs, that they say, “Alright Hamilton Bennett’s the most reliable let’s get him in there.” That’s the goal I’m trying to reach with my career right now.

Petey:  Thinking about you closing games for the Mets, reminds me a little bit of John Franco, the Mets all-time saves leader.

Hamilton:  Franco? Yeah I actually got to meet him, he’s very knowledgeable.

Petey:  Similar arsenal to yours, similar size, both lefties with a bulldog mentality.

Hamilton:  Yeah, he wasn’t an over-powering guy, but he knew how to command the strike zone, and make people sit. Yeah I wouldn’t mind that career.

Petey:  Pick one teammate, position player or pitcher, that really impressed you with his play last year, and tell us what it was that made you take notice?

Hamilton:  Josh Edgin. He’s from a small college just like I am. He was drafted one round after me, and me and him were actually roommates. All he does is sit on his computer and think of ways to make himself a better pitcher. Whether it’s mechanically, or working out, or stretching and every different detail. And then when I got there he was the closer for the Sand Gnats at the time. And as a roommate I’m writing down notebook paper after notebook paper, trying to get as much information about being a reliever as possible. So he really helped me as well as other people on the team. He’s one of those guys you can just walk up to and say, “Alright in this situation, blah blah blah, what can I do to help myself get better?” And he’d come right out and say, “You want to do this, this is what your mentality has to be as a closer, a reliever, whatever.” He really helped me out big time.

Petey:  That is so cool, he sounds like one day, when his playing days are over, he’d make one heckuva coach.

Hamilton:  He’s got the talent to have a very long career in the big leagues, that’s for sure, and I hope he does. But I could honestly see him being a very good coach.

Petey:  Wasn’t it after they called Josh up to St. Lucie, that they made you the closer at Savannah?

Hamilton:  Right, once he left I had to basically take his role. And after rooming with him for two or three months it really helped me get to where I needed to be.

Petey:  I got a chance to interview Josh a few months ago for MMO, and he is a very interesting guy.

Hamilton:  Well, we’re both left-handers, we’re kinda similar built, he’s a little bit heavier than I am and throws about 7 mph harder than I do, but he’s just very knowledgeable and a very good guy to talk to.

Petey:  When you see him at spring training give him my best.

Hamilton:  I will.

Petey:  And to finish up Hamilton, just a little personal info, not pertaining to baseball. What is your favorite movie?

Hamilton:  Favorite movie…whooo! I mean it’s so hard, every time someone asks me that you got to pick a genre. But, my favorite movie…is probably gonna be Armageddon.

Petey:  Oh, great movie!

Hamilton:  I mean Bruce Willis, good actor, and everybody else in it. and there’s only one movie, every time I watch it, that I tear up, and that’s Armageddon.

Petey:  Yeah when he sacrifices himself at the end….

Hamilton:  Right, right, right.

Petey:  That is cool, you can’t go wrong with Bruce Willis. How about music, do you have a favorite musician or band?

Hamilton:  Favorite music? I’m a big Country listener. So I’d probably have to go Brad Paisley country artist, or,  I mean the Tim McGraw’s and all them are always good. So anything country’s really good.

Petey:  All right!

Hamilton:  But Brad Paisley’s my go-to.

Petey:  He’s the closer, hahahah!

Hamilton:  Yah.

Petey:  Favorite food?

Hamilton:  Chinese or Japanese. I’m a big sushi fan.

Petey:  It must be hard to find good sushi when your on the road, huh?

Hamilton:  Yeah, just because in the minor leagues, the sushi’s sort of an expensive dish, for what your getting. You don’t really want to spend all your money on six pieces of sushi, you wanna try and get more bang for your buck. There’s places to get it that’s for sure.

Petey:  Well I want to thank you again Hamilton….do you like being called Hamilton or Ham? What do you prefer?

Hamilton:  Oh it doesn’t matter, my friends call me Ham, or Hambone. So it doesn’t matter at all.

Petey:  Okay. Well listen thanks again for taking the time out for this interview. It’s been a lot of fun for me talking to you, and the readers and staff at MMO really appreciate it.

Hamilton:  Well thank you. Thank you very much.

Petey:  Good luck with Spring Training, stay healthy, and best of luck in the regular season this year.

Hamilton:  Thank you sir, bye-bye.

I had a lot of fun chatting with Ham the other day. He’s a great guy, very easy to talk to, and someone who is very easy to root for. More than likely he’ll be starting the season closing games for the St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League. That should be a great experience for him, because the starting rotation in Lucey should be very good this year, and that will give Hambone the chance to pitch in a greater number of meaningful games. Making AAA in 2012 may be a bit of a stretch for him, but by 2013, he should be getting that chance he has been waiting for, to pitch against the Charlotte Knights. After that goal is accomplished, he can focus on that last remaining goal, of pitching in the major leagues one day.

For more of my player interviews, and some other cool stuff, click here.


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The New York Mets – On The Fringe Of History Mon, 20 Feb 2012 15:00:45 +0000 Thursday – October 19th – 2006

Top of the 9th and the score is 3 to 1 in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Mets are one loss away from post-season elimination. The St. Louis Cardinals are one win away from the World Series. Cliff Floyd has struck out with runners on first and second. Jose Reyes has just lined out to Jim Edmonds in center.  Hope is rapidly fading when Carlos Beltran makes his way to the plate to face Adam Wainwright in front of a standing room only crowd of 56,357 screaming Shea fans – yearning desperately for a return to the fall classic.

Wainwright scans the signs from Yadier Molina. Beltran, the 2006 Mets team leader in homeruns and RBI, focuses every ounce of the baseball knowledge he has on Wainwright. He’s prepared. This is the moment every child who’s ever taken a baseball field has dreamt of. The season, the city, everything is now in his hands. The intensity flowing from fan to players to concession stand operators becomes palpable.  The drumbeat of “Lets Go Mets”, reminiscent of glory days gone by, echo through Shea’s centerfield speakers. The stands begin to shake rhythmically in anticipation. Wainwright delivers his 1st pitch. Beltran swings…driving a Wainwright curveball high down the right field line.

Time grinds to standstill as the crowd instinctively and collectively holds their breath. Beltran however is far less concerned. He flips his bat with the same exuberance of a Little Leaguer – channeling every emotion into one fluid motion. He knows. Gary Cohen begins to scream “A LOOONG HIGH FLY TO DEEEP RIGHT WILL IT STAY FAIR…IT HIT THE FOUL POLE…IT”S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE, IT’S OUTTA HERE…

Present Day – 2012

Of course that never happened, as we know all too well. No we never did get to hear Gary Cohen cement himself into Met history with THAT particular call. Instead we were subjected to Joe Buck’s monotone droning, “And the 0 and 2 pitch; strike 3. The Cardinals are going to the World Series.” Scintillating I know. But somewhere, in some universe, Carlos Beltran and Mets went to the World Series.

How do I know this happened? Simple, Walter Bishop said so. Who the hell is Walter Bishop right? Well to those of us who gather around the flat screens every Friday night at 9pm, you know that Walter Bishop is father to Peter Bishop on the FOX television series Fringe.  Walter Bishop is a scientist du-jour, capable of explaining Quantum Mechanics to a 6 year old to whipping up the perfect strawberry milk shake from his genetically engineered cow, Gene, who by the way in one episode, had transferred into him, the “soul” of his friend and fellow scientist William Bell, played by Leonard Nimoy. Fascinating.


I know it sounds crazy but the show’s main premise is that there are “multiverses”; multiple universes that exist just as our very own universe exists with doubles of you and I and everyone in them, all going in there own different directions simultaneously. In the world opposite of Walter Bishop and our universe, many differences exist.  Everything from President Kennedy marking his 97th birthday – safe from our timeline’s morbid fate – to the Statue of Liberty representing the Department of Defense, stand out as obvious differences. There’s even the somber notion that in the alternate universe, the White House was the main target and destroyed on 9-11, sparing the World Trade Center.

This theory of multiple universes isn’t all that Hollywood-esque. In fact Albert Einstein while formulating his Theory of Relativity postulated the existence of parallel universes as has physicist Stephen Hawking. So if those guys say it’s possible, well hot damn somewhere someone in a parallel universe is celebrating Felix Millan’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

So it got me thinking; what if? What if in some topsy-turvy world, the woes we have felt as Mets fans never existed? Imagine it. Darryl and Doc went on to win another World Series, avoiding their personal demons. What if the Midnight Massacre never took place?  It’s such a tempting and seductive thought considering where the team and we as fans stand today. Hell, imagine no Bernie Madoff. Or perhaps imagine a Bernie Madoff that was perhaps legit?

Yes, it’s admittedly hyper-nostalgic if bordering on sad to have these “what if” type dreams. Considering that every so-called expert has the Mets barely outplaying the Chula Vista Little League champs this year, a little harmless indulgence never hurt anyone.  Every now and again, we need to realize that as fans, this is just a game and hardly life or death issues. The exception of course – the desire many have to see Bernie Madoff strung up by his soap on a rope in prison. Even the Almighty would probably turn a blind eye to that.

Let us dream shall we?

February 22nd 2007 – Port St. Lucie, Florida

Pedro Martinez arrived at Thomas J. White stadium slim, trim and poised to return to form. After the Mets lost the 2006 World Series to the Detroit Tigers in seven games, Martinez whose season was cut short due to a calf strain and a minor rotator cuff pull walked into manager Willie Randolph’s office with a clean bill of health. He was determined to reclaim his status as staff ace.  General Manager Omar Minaya, emboldened by his teams’ World Series appearance and his brand new 3 year $15 million dollar extension, making him the highest paid GM in all of baseball, was given more than just wider latitude by team owner Fred Wilpon. He was also given an additional $40 million in payroll, topping out at a league high $141 million.  Minaya spent $15 million of that on Alfonso Soriano who will take his potent bat, but suspect glove to second base at Shea. Also coming into the fold will be 6 time All-Star Kenny Lofton. The 40 year old will shift over to left field to accommodate Beltran and according to Minaya will provide speed at the top of the lineup along with Reyes.

Joining them would be former Houston Astro and Yankee Andy Pettite, who signed a 2-year contract with the Mets. Minaya was quoted by ESPN’s Peter Gammons saying, ‘We needed to add depth and protection to our rotation. Not having Pedro for us during the World Series was definitely a liability. Adding a player like Andy Pettite addresses our needs both during and post season. So with that said, signing Andy was necessary.”  The well-seasoned trio of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite proved father time wrong in 2007 as all three went on to pitch over 200 innings each and winning 46 games.

Another anachronism to the aging process was Shawn Green, who was acquired late last year from Arizona. Nary a fan in his right mind expected Shawn Green to revert to his borderline superstar self yet in 2007, Green did just that. Leading the team in RBI with 110, Green along with Wright, Beltran and Delgado, provided more than enough punch as the team scored an unprecedented 980 runs.

July 4th 2007 – 6 days until the All-Star game in San Francisco

As the 2007 season moved along the team announced that the naming rights negotiations to the new stadium being constructed directly across from Shea Stadium had been finalized. The final decision on naming rights came down to offers given by Citigroup and Apple Incorporated, with Apple winning the rights with an offer to pay the team $40 million per year for the next 20 years.  Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs along with New York Mets owner and CEO Fred Wilpon and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke to members of the press in front of the partially constructed stadium which is being dubbed “The Big Apple”. Construction should be completed by 2010.

By the All-Star break the Mets were comfortably 12 games ahead of the drifting Atlanta Braves. The Braves having lost 3rd baseman Chipper Jones for the remainder of the season with a torn hamstring found themselves the main topic of more than just Baseball news.  Braves team owner Ted Turner, along with thousands of others, were found to be victims of a vast Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff, who bilked hundreds of millions from his unsuspecting clients.

The misfortune of the Braves along with the success of the Mets, helped to bring about a 2 year extension for manager Willie Randolph, through to the 2010 season. And by seasons end, the Mets were sitting once again on top of the NL East, winning 99 games, 17 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves.

October 15th 2007 – The 2007 Postseason begins

Having run rough shot through the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks, sweeping both teams in the Divisional and National League Championship series, the Mets were led by the starting pitching of Martinez, Glavine and Pettite. The three combined for 5 of the 7 wins with Martinez and Pettite winning 2 games each.

“What was even more impressive was their focus under pressure and their ability to give us strong innings. The fact that they (Martinez, Glavine and Pettite) all went deep into the games (each averaged 7 innings per start) was huge, absolutely huge. Well beyond what any of us expected or hoped especially from Pedro.” said a champagne soaked Mets pitching coach Ron Darling as he made room for Commissioner Selig who presented Martinez with the NLCS MVP. Martinez pitched 14 innings allowing only 1 run in his two winning starts.

Leading the team offensively came from two truly unlikely sources. 40 year old veteran Kenny Lofton hit .428 with 2 homeruns and 2 stolen bases, both coming in game 4 of the NLCS and Jose Reyes, who hit .447 with an NLCS record 10 stolen bases. On the downside, Reyes pulled his right hamstring in game 4 after recording his 10th stolen base and had to be carried off the field with the help of manager Willie Randolph and David Wright.  The Shea crowd, swelled in the energy of a World Series birth, sat stunned as their catalyst’s season and World Series was now in jeopardy. But would that include the 2007 Amazin’s?

To be continued…

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