Mets Merized Online » Yogi Berra http://metsmerizedonline.com Sun, 15 Jan 2017 16:45:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.17 All-Time “He Was Good Until He Went to the Mets” Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/all-time-he-was-good-until-he-went-to-the-mets-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/07/all-time-he-was-good-until-he-went-to-the-mets-team.html/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 16:00:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=217606 jason bay

“He was good. Until he went to the Mets.”

If you’re a Mets fan, there’s a solid chance you say or hear that sentence at least ten times per year. The Mets have had several notable occurrences of “He Was Good Until He Went To The Mets” syndrome over their five decades of play, and countless players have fallen prey to it.

When the Mets turned 50, they released an “All-Time Team” to remember the greats who wore the orange and blue. But if you’re a die-hard Mets fan, you know that the greats are only half of the story. For every Keith Hernandez, there’s a Mo Vaughn. For every Mike Piazza, there’s a Jim Fregosi. For every… you get it.

So now we have an all-time “He Was Good Until He Went To The Mets Team.” This team was built with the players at each position who had the best careers prior to a lackluster stay with the Mets:

Catcher - Yogi Berra

After Berra was fired as Yankees manager in 1964, the Mets immediately scooped him up as a player/coach. Many people don’t even realize that Berra played for the Mets– albeit for four games in 1965. He went 2-for-9, and retired after striking out three times in a game for the second time ever on May 9. The American icon went on to coach and manage with the Mets for the next decade, including in a memorable run to the World Series in 1973.

First Baseman - Mo Vaughn

Vaughn looked like a potential Hall of Famer when he played for the Red Sox and Angels. From 1993-2000, an average season for Vaughn was .305/.394/.552 with 35 home runs and 111 RBI. But it was all downhill after the 2000 season. He missed all of 2001 with a torn bicep and was traded to the Mets for Kevin Appier prior to the 2002 season.
While Appier won 14 games and helped the Angels win the 2002 World Series,

Vaughn did little for the Mets. His first year with the team was far below his pre-injury averages– albeit not awful. He batted .259/.349/.456 with 26 home runs and 72 RBI. However, he played in just 27 games in 2003 and missed all of 2004 with a career-ending knee injury. The Mets paid him $46 million dollars over these three seasons to play in just 158 games.

Vaughn is perhaps best remembered by Mets fans for his weight issues; despite once weighing 225 pounds, Vaughn had skyrocketed to 275 pounds when he was with the Mets. This led to many an angry call into “Mike and the Mad Dog.”

Second Baseman - Roberto Alomar

Alomar has a plaque in Cooperstown today, but it’s safe to say this has little to do with his time on the Mets.
Much like Vaughn, Alomar was acquired from the Indians during the 2002 offseason to revitalize the team. The Mets would be acquiring a 32-year-old player who had made 12 consecutive All-Star teams and won 11 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Both of these streaks ended once he came to the Mets. Alomar batted just .266/.331/.376 in 2002, and after putting up similar numbers the following season, was traded to the White Sox in July of 2003. Alomar played just one more season before calling it a career.
The trades for Vaughn and Alomar helped end Steve Phillips’ time as GM of the Mets, who was fired in 2003.

(Dis)Honorable mention #1 - Carlos Baerga

Baerga was the first second baseman since Rogers Hornsby to record consecutive seasons of 200+ hits, 20 home runs and 100 RBI when he did so in 1992 and 1993. After he was traded to the Mets in 1996, he never reached any of these plateaus again.

(Dis)Honorable mention #2 - Luis Castillo

Castillo won three Gold Gloves with the Marlins, yet is best remembered as a Met for failing to catch a pop-up. Enough said.

Phillies vs Mets

Shortstop: Kaz Matsui

Matsui is a legend in Japan, where he batted .309/.362/.486 with 150 home runs and 306 steals from from 1995-2003. This 2003 scouting report on ESPN.com called him “More talented than Hideki Matsui,” and the “Best all-around player [in Japan] since Ichiro left.”

So when Matsui decided to take his talents to America, the Mets signed him to a three-year, $20 million contract prior to the 2004 season. The team was so confident in his abilities that it moved highly-touted shortstop prospect Jose Reyes to second base to make room for Matsui.

Unlike the other Matsui in New York at the time, Kaz failed to meet expectations. He batted just .256/.308/.363 in three injury-plagued seasons with the Mets. He was traded to the Rockies in June of 2006. He spent the next four seasons with the Rockies and Astros before heading back to Japan in 2011.

In case you’re wondering, Matsui still plays in Japan for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, where he batted .256/.324/.366 with ten home runs and 48 RBI in 126 games last season.

Third Base - Jim Fregosi

Before the days of David Wright, the Mets struggled to find an everyday third baseman throughout much of their early history. In fact, they had eight different starting third basemen from 1962-1971.

The Mets hoped to put an end to these woes when they acquired Jim Fregosi from the Angels in December of 1971. Fregosi was a six-time All-Star with a bWAR of 44.8 and an OPS+ of 119 from 1963-1970. But a down season in 1971 made him expendable for the Angels, who traded him to the Mets for some young pitcher named Nolan Ryan.

Unfortunately for the Mets, the man bought in to be the third baseman of the future had a short and forgettable stay in Flushing. He batted an abysmal .233/.319/.328 with five home runs and 43 RBI in 146 games in 1972 and 1973. The Mets’ search for a star third baseman would continue until Howard Johnson made his debut with the team in 1985. Meanwhile, Nolan Ryan went on to throw over 5,000 strikeouts and seven no-hitters en route to the Hall of Fame.

Outfield - Jason Bay

After a season in which Daniel Murphy led the Mets with just 12 home runs, the Mets were in desperate need of a power hitter. So they signed Bay to a four-year, $66 million contract. Bay came to the Mets with seven consecutive seasons of at least 20 home runs and 80 RBI, and was coming off a season in which he hit 36 home runs and 119 RBI with the Red Sox.

In three years with the Mets, Bay hit just 26 home runs and 124 RBI. He batted just .234/.318/.369, and had his contract terminated prior to the 2013 season.

Outfield – Vince Coleman 

Coleman stole 549 bases during the first six seasons of his career with the Cardinals. He is one of just four players in the modern era to steal over 100 bases in a season, which he did three times from 1985-1987.

It looked like the Mets were signing the next Lou Brock when they signed him in 1990. What they got was one of the biggest embarrassments in team history. Coleman, who played with the Mets from 1991-1993, never played more than 100 games in a season.

Aside from the disappointing on-field performance, his off-field behavior was even worse. He was gone for good after he was charged with felony a firecracker at a group of fans at Dodger Stadium, which injured three people– including a two-year-old girl. Prior to this dubious incident, he injured Dwight Gooden by swinging a golf club in the clubhouse and had been suspended for feuding with manager Jeff Torborg.

willie mays

OutfieldWillie Mays:

The “Say Hey Kid” was traded to the Mets in the middle of the 1972 season. Mays was 41 at the time, and was hardly the player he used to be. He hit just .238/.352/.294 in 135 games with the Mets from 1972-1973 to finish out his career.

Unlike many of the players on the “He Was Good Until He Went to the Mets” team, Mays is still looked at with reverence by the organization and fans, so much so that his No. 24 jersey has remained mostly out of circulation since he retired.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #1 - Bobby Bonilla

Many Mets fans would probably put Bonilla over Mays on this list, but from a purely numerical standpoint, Bonilla was actually not awful. He made two All-Star teams in four seasons while he recorded an OPS+ over 120 in each of his first four years with the team.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #2 - George Foster

Much like Bonilla, Foster didn’t live up to the hype of his five-year, $10 million contract, the second-largest in baseball history in 1982, but still put up decent numbers. Foster had at least 20 home runs in three of his five years with the Mets and had two years with a WAR over 1.5.

(Dis)Honorable Mention #3 - Duke Snider

Snider was a Hall of Famer and fan-favorite in New York as a Brooklyn Dodger before the team relocated to Los Angeles in 1958. He came back to New York in 1963 when he was sold to the Mets, where he batted .243/.345/.401 with 14 homers and 45 RBI in his only season with the team.

New York Yankees v New York Mets

Starting Pitcher - Pedro Martinez

Pedro signed a four-year, $53 million dollar contract with the Mets in December of 2004. This represented a new era in Mets history, and was a major factor in persuading Carlos Beltran to sign. However, he contributed little on the field after the first year of his deal.

Martinez’s first season with the Mets was electrifying, as he went 15-8 with a 2.82 ERA and a league-leading 0.949 WHIP and 4.43 strikeout-to-walk ratio. After this season,Pedro would never make more than 24 starts in a season again, and recorded a 4.74 ERA throughout his remaining time with the Mets. A healthy Pedro could have made all the difference in 2007 and 2008, when the Mets were eliminated on the last day of the season.

Starting Pitcher - Tom Glavine

Glavine was one of the best pitchers of his era with the Braves, and was pretty solid with the Mets as well. He went 61-56 with a 3.97 ERA during his five seasons in New York. But he will always be remembered for his performance on the final day of the 2007 season, when he allowed seven runs in one-third of an inning to the last-place Marlins. Not a good time to have the worst start of your career.

Starting Pitcher - Warren Spahn

As a Brave, Spahn averaged 20 wins from 1947-1963. But after going 6-13 with a 5.29 ERA in 1964, he was sold to the Mets.
Much like Berra, Spahn had an oft-forgotten abbreviated cameo with the Mets in 1965. He was purchased and given both a spot in the rotation and the title of pitching coach.

Spahn had won 356 games prior to joining the Mets, and still believed that he could get to 400 wins when he joined the team. This proved to be a fruitless endeavor, however, as the 44-year-old went just 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA before being released midseason.

While on the Mets, Spahn was reunited with Casey Stengel, who he had played under with the Boston Braves in 1942. Reminiscing on his time with the Mets, Spahn once said: “I’m probably the only guy who worked with Stengel before and after he was a genius.”

Relief Pitcher: Francisco Rodriguez

The 2008 Mets’ bullpen was so bad that had their games ended in the eighth inning, they would have won the NL East by 12 games rather than losing it by three games. So that offseason, they signed Francisco Rodriguez, who was fresh off setting a single-season record with 62 saves, to a three-year, $37 million contract.

Rodriguez failed as a member of the Mets. His ERA ballooned to 3.71 in 2009– more than a run higher than it had been in 2008. He suffered a season-ending thumb injury in August of 2010 by assaulting his girlfriend’s father following a loss. “K-Rod” was traded to the Brewers in a salary-dump trade in 2011, where he has since made two All-Star teams.

Relief Pitcher - J.J. Putz

Putz recorded a 5.22 ERA as the setup man in 2009 before suffering a season-ending elbow injury that June. Putz was a stellar closer for the Mariners prior to 2009, as he had a 3.07 ERA and 101 saves in his six-year tenure with the team. After his time with the Mets, he recorded two 30-plus save seasons with the Diamondbacks in 2011 and 2012.
Putz later said that the Mets never gave him a physical upon acquisition. As Mets fans found out last year, medicals are rather important.

Manager - Art Howe

Howe was bought in in 2003 to be the Mets’ manager following Bobby Valentine‘s firing. Howe was the hottest managerial name on the market, as he had just led the Athletics to three consecutive playoff appearances. If he could lead the $40 million payroll Oakland A’s to three straight playoff appearances. Imagine what he could do with more than double that budget?

Not much. Howe went 137-186 in his two years on the job. He was fired following the 2004 season, and never managed again after leaving the Mets.

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MMO Fan Shot: Where Does Piazza Rank Among The Greatest Catchers Of All Time http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-where-does-piazza-rank-among-the-greatest-catchers-of-all-time.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2016/01/mmo-fan-shot-where-does-piazza-rank-among-the-greatest-catchers-of-all-time.html/#comments Sat, 09 Jan 2016 20:06:11 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=203926 mike piazza day

An MMO Fan Shot by Andy Love

The arc of the baseball universe is long, but it bends towards justice.  And so, Mike Piazza, a true superstar, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his fourth attempt.  Piazza’s failure to muster the requisite 75% of votes his first three years on the ballot was a true travesty, based on unsubstantiated rumors about steroid use stemming from nothing more than a case of back acne.  He now joins another superstar, Ken Griffey, Jr., as the class of 2016.

After Tom Seaver, Mike Piazza was the greatest player the Mets ever had.  Before his Met days, he was already a 5-time All Star with the Dodgers.  He was traded by the Dodgers to the Marlins and played for them for about a week before the Mets got him in May of 1998.  It was one of the few times in Mets history that ownership did something that was both big and smart — the kind of move to give a resurgent team a chance at winning it all.

It almost worked.

The Mets in Piazza’s first year missed the playoffs by one game (after losing the last 5 games of the season).  In 1999, they lost a brutal playoff to the Braves, when Kenny Rogers walked in the winning run.  And in 2000, they actually made it to the World Series but lost to the Yankees in 5 games. And, sadly, that was it.  In Piazza’s final five seasons the team was mediocre at best finishing third twice, fourth once and fifth twice.

But the Mets’ regression to the mean cannot be blamed on Piazza.  In his 8 years with the Mets, he was a remarkable presence in the middle of the lineup, hitting 220 home runs, knocking in 665 runs and batting .296.  And the stats can’t possibly measure his star power — the kind of electricity that he brought with him every time he stepped to the plate.  (So electric that Roger Clemens was compelled to heave a piece of a broken bat at him during the 2000 World Series.)  Piazza had a flair for the dramatic, and most notable was the inspirational game-winning home run he hit on 9/21/11, the first game after the 9/11 attacks.

Piazza’s career offensive numbers are staggering.  He batted.300 in nine consecutive seasons (1991-2001) and leads all catchers in career home runs with 427.  He boasts a .308 career batting average, 1335 RBI, 2127  hits, 344 doubles and 1048 runs scored.  These would be remarkable numbers for any player but for a catcher who has to crouch behind the plate for nine innings, and get beat up and worn down by foul tips, hard slides and other aches and pains like no other position player, it is unfathomable.

mike piazza gear

Mike Piazza is surely the greatest hitting catcher ever.  Other than dermatological issues, the only other mark against him was his middling skill behind the plate.  Admittedly, it was sometimes painful to watch Piazza try to throw out runners or block balls in the dirt.  On the other hand, it has been said that he was an excellent handler of pitchers, a skill less observable by the causal fan.

In a profile in the Wall Street Journal, Piazza was asked where he would rank himself on the list of all time great catchers, and he replied, “in the top five”

I’m a humble person, but I’d definitely put myself in the top five. I’d say Johnny [Bench] first for his charisma and talent—then I’d say Roy Campanella—he won three MVPs, after all. And Yogi Berra. If I put myself over Yogi, people would say, ‘Who does he think he is, he put himself over Yogi?’

Great question, and I don’t think Piazza’s answer is too far off.  He may not be in the top five, but he is pretty close.

Piazza ignores a trio of legendary catchers from the 1920s and 1930s, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Gabby Hartnett, as well as the two Pudges:  Carlton “Pudge” Fisk and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.  Then there’s Gary Carter, another Met, who I wrote about here.

With the exception of Rodriguez, who is not yet eligible, all these catchers are in the Hall of Fame, and Piazza fits quite comfortably within this group.  Bench, Berra, Cochrane are generally considered the top three.  Campanella is next.  The fifth slot has got to go to Rodriguez, who may rate even higher.  Then, probably, comes Piazza.  While he didn’t have defensive skills anywhere close to Hartnett, Dickey, Carter or Fisk, Piazza’s far superior hitting arguably more than compensates for his lesser fielding prowess.

But wherever you put him on the top ten list, Mike Piazza is indisputably one of the greatest catchers of all time.

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was contributed by Andy Love. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Share your opinions with over 30,000 Met fans who read this site daily.

Send your Fan Shot to FanShot@MetsmerizedOnline.com. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

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Amazin’ Moments: Willie Comes Home http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/amazin-mets-moments-willie-comes-home.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/07/amazin-mets-moments-willie-comes-home.html/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=112167 As we all know, the Mets were created fill the gap left after the departure of the Giants and the Dodgers from the city of New York following the 1957 season. In the four year period before the advent of the Amazin’s, Gotham’s National League fans were left to follow their teams as best they could from afar (remember, no cable TV at this time nor webcasts, and radio coverage was spotty at best if you were following a west coast team). 

williemays-swing - Copy

For die-hard fans, and there were many, this was a hardship that was duly noted by the fledgling Met ownership which sought to assuage (or exploit, depending on how you look at it) their feelings of abandonment by bringing in notable Dodger greats like Gil Hodges and Duke Snider for a last go-round in a Met uniform.

But for fans of the “New York baseball Giants” as they were once referred to, there were no remaining links to the glory days of the team. Instead, they were left to scan the box scores or change their allegiance to the Yankees. The latter choice was anathema to most of the Giant faithful, including my father, who had regaled me with stories of following the 1951 pennant race by radio as many had done, and had exulted with much of the city as Bobby Thomson’s  “Shot Heard Round the World” was broadcast. His favorite player was not Thomson, however. It was the Giants’ wunderkind, Willie Mays.

Mays had a place in New York baseball folklore as part of a triumvirate of great center fielders along with Mickey Mantle and the Duke, but had a penchant for near-mythical displays that seemed to supersede his contemporaries. Who could forget “The Catch” where he tracked down Vic Wertz’ missile in the 1948 World Series or “The Throw” where he ran to catch a shot in the right field gap and spun on the dead run to unleash a throw like no one had ever seen to catch the Dodgers’ Billy Cox at the plate? Not to mention an MVP season in 1954 and a 1955 season where he clubbed 51 homers, a feat that was downright uncommon in the pre-steroid era.

willie2Mays would go on to more glory with the Giants, including a pennant in 1962, another MVP in 1965, Gold Gloves, perennial All Star appearances, and all the things that fans bask in when their team and their favorite player are in the limelight. But Mays was San Francisco’s now, even if those fans more readily embraced Willie McCovey. New York fans were left with their memories…and the Mets.

So, when the buzz began in May of 1972 that a deal was in the works to bring Willie back to the east coast, the “sleeping Giant” so to speak, of 1950’s New York baseball fandom began to stir. And lo, so it was, for a mere $50,000 and a middling right-hander named Charlie Williams, the Mets finally obtained what may have been the most symbolic link to the city’s baseball legacy.  And, largely symbolic it was, because at 41 years of age, Mays was clearly a shadow of his former self as a player. Still, his mere presence in a Met uniform was enough to drive fans into a state of excitement usually reserved for visits from the President or the Pope.

Fans flocked to Shea for the series against Mays’ now former employers the Giants. Willie was set to make his debut as a Met in the Sunday game on May 14th, but when the team needed a pinch hitter in the Friday game prior, fans began clamoring for manager Yogi Berra to send him to the plate. When John Milner emerged from the dugout instead, he was booed roundly “for not being Willie Mays” as I recall the announcer Lindsey Nelson reporting. Finally, the big day arrived and Mays was in the lineup, leading off and playing center field.

willie-mays2My dad and I watched the game together. He had been a fairly hard core NY Giants fan but had come over to the Met side of the dugout for the most part as his kids had “caught baseball fever” as a MLB marketing campaign had urged and gotten swept up in the championship run of 1969. But today was all about number 24 and his return to the fold.

If you are familiar with the game, you know that it began auspiciously for the Mets, with Giants pitcher Sam McDowell walking the bases full and then surrendering a grand slam to Rusty Staub. By the bottom of the fifth however, the Giants had tied the score and McDowell had been lifted in favor of right hander Don Carrithers. Mays led off the inning and unloaded on a fastball. As the ball cleared the fence in left and Mays trotted around the bases for the 647th time in his career, my father stopped grinning long enough to tell me “That’s the way it should be.” Cornball, but I swear it’s a true story.

That homer provided the winning edge as the Mets prevailed 5-4, and even though moments like that would be few and far between for the balance of Mays’ Mets career, the memory of that triumphant return and its near-poetic climax (hitting the homer in the bottom of the ninth would have clinched the poetic part, but let’s not squabble over details) remains indelible. The Mets and Mays had helped the New York branch of Giant fans to reclaim at least part of their legacy and gave the team that abandoned them a swat in the process. For that day, it was enough.

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Life Under the Big Top http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/life-under-the-big-top.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/life-under-the-big-top.html/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:00:32 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=134989 The Houston Astrodome is coming down as we speak. The following is just one of the memorable games the New York Mets played at historic dome.

legends-lindsey-nelsonThe original New York Mets were more often described as a circus act than a competitive professional baseball team. Fans flocked to the Polo Grounds, and later Shea Stadium, to catch a glimpse of Casey Stengel, or maybe Marv Throneberry miss touching a base running from first to third. Fans reveled when Jimmy Piersall opted to round the bases in reverse.

Everywhere Mets fans looked, they were delighted and surprised by the offbeat characters on and off the field. Lindsey Nelson, one of the Mets play-by-play announcer, was no exception. His wild and colorful blazers were conversation pieces. His analysis was sharp and colorful and, on occasion, reached new heights – literally.

On April 28, 1965, Nelson, the “daredevil” of all the Mets broadcasters according to the New York Times, and executive producer Joel Nixon became the first (and only) baseball announcers to broadcast from a gondola, dangling 208 feet above second base, the equivalent of 18 stories, the highest point of the Astrodome.

“There I was, swinging back and forth like a monkey in a cage,” Nelson described in the opening chapter of the 1966 book Backstage at the Mets. “The ballplayers looked like animated pushbuttons. At the moment I didn’t have foggiest notion what they were doing, where they were going, or why. It was the perfect spot for a New York Met announcer.”

This was all Joe Gallagher’s fault. From the moment he saw the gondola, Gallagher was obsessed, asking questions throughout the first game of the series in Houston.

Can you get up there?

Yes.

Is it safe?

I guess so.

How many people will it hold?

4-6.

Can you broadcast from it?

Yes.

That’s all Gallagher really needed to hear.

He spent the next day making arrangements to send Nelson into the air, and on the air, in the gondola to broadcast the game. Nelson hesitated, but agreed to do it. That evening the Astros lowered the gondola until it hovered over second base, about 12 feet off the ground.

The “flying saucer,” as it was described in newspaper reports, took 45 minutes to descend. Nelson, Nixon, members of the Astros organization and Yogi Berra watched and waited.

“You really going up in that thing?” Berra asked Nelson.

Nelson nodded uncomfortably.

“What are you nuts?” asked Berra.

Nelson and Nixon climbed in with a pair of walkie-talkies, a microphone, binoculars, a scorecard and a couple locker stools. As they climbed into the box, Nelson asked an Astros engineer, “Have you ever been up there?”

“Up there?” he asked back.

“You think I’m nuts?”

The gondola cables jerked Nelson and Nixon back and began its ascent over the next four minutes. When they reached their destination, Nelson peered over the edge, “hanging on for dear life.” He later described the scene saying, “At first I couldn’t see anything except a lot of tiny figures. Everybody looked the same height, everybody looked short. You couldn’t tell a line drive from a pop fly.”

Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Gallagher tried to communicate with Nelson using the walkie-talkie, only one problem: the two-way device was on the same frequency as a local Houston cab company. Murphy’s messages were randomly interrupted by street intersections, hotel names and frustrated cabbie which were equally confused by the ballpark sound effects.

“The confusion that resulted from all the racket in the gondola would have given an ordinary man the screaming-meemies, but I’m not an ordinary man,” wrote Nelson. “I’m a Met fan, wish us Mets fans confusion is a way of life. So is cacophony.”

Nelson held steady through the early innings. He refused to stand, refused to wave to fans, refused to keep score (fearing he’d drop his pencil on a player). The sixth inning was torture. The Mets and Astros combined to score eight runs, four apiece. Nelson called play-by-play for the seventh and eighth innings.

Bob Hope sat in the crowd and watched, both the game and the gondola in fascination. The Astros eventually beat the Mets 12-9, a game that officially lasted three hours and 24 minutes.

For Nelson and Nixon it felt like an eternity. After the game, Hope was invited back to Hofheinz apartment inside the stadium. He asked to wait a moment to see if Nelson and Nixon made it down safely as the gondola lowered before his eyes. As the gondola came to a stop, just feet from the diamond, Nelson took a deep breath and climbed out of the container while fans hooted, hollered and cheered the Mets broadcaster like a hero.

Like the circus clown, Nelson understood his role: Another city; another show; another smile; another night under the big top.

Presented By Diehards

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Reggie Jackson Says Mets Decision Not To Draft Him Was Based On Race http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/reggie-jackson-says-mets-decision-not-to-draft-him-was-based-on-race.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/reggie-jackson-says-mets-decision-not-to-draft-him-was-based-on-race.html/#comments Mon, 07 Oct 2013 15:37:34 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130820 reggie jackson a'sLooks like Reggie Jackson and his soon to be released auto-biography will be hitting the ground running as the Hall of Famer leaves no stones uncovered as he seeks to dispel some of the bad raps against him through his career as a player.

The New York Post shared an exclusive excerpt from the book in which Jackson accuses the Mets of racism for opting to select Steve Chilcott instead of him with the first pick in the 1966 MLB Draft.

Arizona State standout Reggie Jackson was considered the best amateur ballplayer in the country heading into the 1966 Major League Baseball draft. The team picking first that year was the lowly, awful New York Mets.

Jackson recalls how his coach at Arizona State, Bobby Winkles, broke the bad news.

“A day or two before the draft, Bobby Winkles sat me down and told me, ‘You’re probably not gonna be the No. 1 pick. You’re dating a Mexican girl, and the Mets think you will be a problem,’ ” Jackson writes. “ ‘They think you’ll be a social problem because you are dating out of your race.’ ”

Jackson was especially baffled because he’s part Hispanic — his grandmother is from Puerto Rico and his middle name is Martinez. But that didn’t matter, even to the perennial cellar-dwelling Mets.

“No, you’re colored, and they don’t want that,” Winkles said.

Jackson would get even of course in 1973, when the Oakland A’s beat the Mets in the World Series that season – Jackson would be named the World Series MVP.

Here’s some more from the Post article:

He blamed the Mets’ infamous draft-day decision on Bob Scheffing, the team’s director of player development. According to Jackson, he was also the guy who would later trade Nolan Ryan. But Scheffing tried to pass the blame on to Casey Stengel, who was scouting for the team at the time.

“I know I never saw Casey Stengel when I was being scouted,” writes Jackson. “And how could you be in a ballpark and not know if Casey Stengel was there?”

Jackson wishes he could have been directly inspired by Mets’ veterans and managers of that era, including the late Gil Hodges, whose team won the 1969 World Series, and Yogi Berra, who managed the overachieving 1973 squad. “Unlike Billy Martin, Yogi didn’t need to be the star all the time,” he notes. “He already was the star.”

His desire to have been a Met comes off as almost romantic. “I think about that sometimes. I would’ve been coming up just as that team was finally improving. They had all those great arms: Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, Nolan Ryan, Tug McGraw. Oh boy!”

Safe to assume that the Mets may have had a dynasty run had they selected Jackson over Chilcott… But then again, who knows?

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Beltran Doesn’t Rule Out A Return To The Mets http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/beltran-doesnt-rule-out-a-return-to-the-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/beltran-doesnt-rule-out-a-return-to-the-mets.html/#comments Sun, 06 Oct 2013 20:32:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130628 carlos beltran

Carlos Beltran told Mike Puma of the NY Post that he wouldn’t be against a return to the Mets when he becomes a free agent this offseason.

“Maybe I’ll see you, maybe I won’t,” Beltran said laughing when asked about a return to the Mets. “I’m going to listen to everybody and we’ll see what happens.”

According to sources, Beltran spoke with Mets COO Jeff Wilpon at the All-Star Game in July, and the two sides may have patched up old wounds. Beltran did acknowledge on Saturday that he spoke with Wilpon, but declined to specify what was discussed.

The Mets will have some level of interest in the 36-year-old Beltran, according to what a source told Puma, but they do have concerns about his diminished range in right field.

Beltran batted .296 with an .836 OPS for the Cardinals this season. In 600 plate appearances he racked up 30 doubles, 24 homers and 84 RBIs.

Original Post 10/3

St. Louis outfielder Carlos Beltran led the assault as the Cardinals pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 in Game 1 of the NLDS on Thursday.

Before a sellout crowd of 45,693 delirious Cardinal fans, Beltran blasted a three-run bomb off Pirates starter A.J. Burnett that rocketed its way into the second deck of Busch Stadium. The 443-foot blast was the second-longest ever hit in the ballpark by a left-handed batter.

When Beltran came out of the dugout for a curtain call, the stadium let out a thunderous roar of approval. It was the latest chapter in Beltran’s historic post-season career and with tonight’s homer he equaled Babe Ruth with 15 playoff home runs.

An All-Star for the eighth time this year, Beltran is the all-time postseason leader in slugging (.782) and OPS (1.252), while ranking sixth all-time and first among actives in on-base percentage (.470).

Perhaps Matt Snyder of CBS Sports presents the strongest case for why Beltran has put together a convincing Hall of Fame resumé…

He has the highest career postseason slugging percentage and OPS (1.238) in baseball history. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Beltran has the second highest home run rate in postseason play (15 homers in 129 at-bats — so one home run for every 8.6 at-bats), trailing only Babe Ruth. Ever heard of him? In terms of postseason play, an argument could be made Beltran is the best postseason hitter of all-time.

We’re talking about a guy with over 350 homers and 300 stolen bases. Here are the only players in baseball history to have done that: Barry Bonds, Willie MaysAlex Rodriguez, Andre Dawson and Beltran.

The eight-time All-Star Beltran carries a career triple-slash line of .283/.359/.496, good enough for a 122 OPS+ (22 percent better than the league average throughout his entire career). His 67.5 WAR (baseball-reference.com version) puts him 83rd among position players in history. That might not sound impressive, but we need to think about just how many thousands upon thousands of position players have even taken the field. He also has 446 doubles, getting him close to the top 100 ever (104th right now).

Also, take note of the players who accumulated less WAR over their respective careers: Roberto Alomar, Duke Snider, Pee Wee Reese, Craig Biggio, Andre Dawson, Willie McCovey, Dave Winfield, Billy Williams, Richie Ashburn, Mark McGwire, Harmon Killebrew, Yogi Berra and, well, you get the idea.

tron

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Mike Piazza’s Most Memorable Mets Moments http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazzas-most-memorable-mets-moments.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/mike-piazzas-most-memorable-mets-moments.html/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 13:21:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=130237 piazza hof mmo

Below are several memorable moments during Mike Piazza’s Mets tenure.

May 22, 1998 – Acquired by the Mets from the Florida Marlins in exchange for minor leaguers Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.

May 23, 1998 – Makes his Mets debut at Shea Stadium, going 1-4 with an RBI double in a 3-0 win over Milwaukee.

June 1, 1998 – Belts his first home run in a Mets uniform at Pittsburgh off Jason Schmidt.

September 14, 1998 – Hit what is believed to be the longest home run in Astrodome history, an estimated 480-foot blast off Houston’s Jose Lima.

April 28, 1999 – Hits his first walk-off home run as a member of the Mets taking San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman deep, a two-run shot, in a 4-3 win.

October 2, 1999 – Blasted his 40th home run of the season off Pittsburgh’s Mike Williams.

October 19, 1999 – Crushed a two-run home run in the seventh inning off John Smoltz in Game Six of the NLCS at Atlanta to tie the game, 7-7.

June 14-July 2, 2000 – Had an RBI in 15 consecutive games to set a franchise record…It was the second-longest streak in major league history …Ray Grimes of the 1922 Chicago Cubs had an RBI in 17 straight games.

June 30, 2000 – Hit a laser line drive home run to left, a three-run shot, capping a 10-run inning in an 11-8 comeback win over Atlanta.

September 21, 2001 – Hit an eighth-inning home run off Atlanta’s Steve Karsay in the first New York City sporting event since the 9-11 attacks as an emotional Shea Stadium erupted…The Mets would go on to beat the Braves 3-2.

May 17, 2002 – Reached the 1,000 career RBI plateau when he launched a grand slam off San Diego’s Jason Boyd in a 13-4 win…He became the ninth player in ML history whose primary position was catcher to collect 1,000 RBI.

May 5, 2004 – Hit a 3-1 pitch off San Francisco’s Jerome Williams in the first inning for his 352nd home run as a catcher to become the all-time leader, passing Carlton Fisk.

June 18, 2004 – The four living Hall of Fame catchers: Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and Johnny Bench are on hand at Shea Stadium on “Mike Piazza Night.”

September 29, 2005 – Hits a solo home run at Shea Stadium, his final blast as a Met, and his 220th in a Mets uniform, in an 11-0 win over Colorado.

Mike Piazza hit 220 of his 427 career home runs with the Mets, ranking third in franchise history.

He ranks first in team history with a .542 slugging percentage and is third in RBI (655).

Piazza was a seven-time All-Star with Mets and set a team-record with 124 RBI and hit 40 home runs in 1999 and then finished with 38 home runs and drove in 113 runs in 2000.

Piazza’s 396 home runs as a catcher are the most in baseball history.

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B-Mets Manager Pedro Lopez Wants That Eastern League Championship http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/b-mets-manager-pedro-lopez-wants-that-eastern-league-championship.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/09/b-mets-manager-pedro-lopez-wants-that-eastern-league-championship.html/#comments Sun, 01 Sep 2013 20:23:45 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=128389 Today’a announcement that catching prospect Kevin Plawecki would be promoted to Double-A Binghamton is going to make one particular person very happy – B-Mets manager, Pedro Lopez, who thirsts for the Eastern League Championship.

Lopez had a taste of championship baseball in his mouth and was hungry for more. Last winter, Lopez got his first crack at managing a winter baseball team in his homeland of Puerto Rico. With Lopez’s leadership, The Criollos de Caguas survived the Winter League postseason format to bring home the championship.

For Lopez, that title was his #1 baseball memory ever. And, returning to Double-A Binghamton, Lopez was determined to have another serving of that championship cuisine. Wherever he went and with whomever he talked, Lopez hammered home the same message, he expected nothing short of a championship in Binghamton in 2013.

“We have unfinished business in Binghamton. The city and the B-Mets fans deserve a championship,” claimed the second year manager. That was the message Lopez emphasized to me when I interviewed him at the B-Met welcome back dinner. That was the message quoted in a story about Lopez in the 2013 B-Met Souvenir Program.

In fact, when I asked Lopez about the competing goals of player development and winning baseball games during my interview he refused to separate the two.

“Winning baseball games is an important part of player development,” stressed Lopez. It was clear the B-Met manager believed learning to win was an important part of a minor league player’s learning curriculum.

Looking back, Lopez voiced pride at his work last summer preparing young Met prospects to climb the minor league ladder. A double-digit total of his charges had advanced to play Triple-A ball with a handful of his guys making the Mets. Advancing to Double-A ball is alleged to be the most difficult jump in all of professional
baseball. In the Souvenir program, Lopez admitted the jump presented some challenges for him. He promised that in 2013 he would be the same approachable guy willing to allow his players to do their thing. But, he promised to monitor the baseball preparation his guys made more carefully.

“Last year, I expected guys at this level to take care of things that are required of Double-A players. Some guys didn’t and I’m not going to let that slide.” When analyzing the success of his winter league champions, Lopez pointed to team chemistry. On team photo day when fans could go on the field and chat with the B-Met guys, I asked several of Lopez’s players what they attributed to the B-Mets soaring baseball success. To a man each included team chemistry in their response.

Obviously, Pedro Lopez is a key ingredient in a baseball clubhouse’s success. Lopez was true to his word piecing together a franchise best winning percentage this year in Binghamton. He has provided B-Met fans with their first division title in ten years and their first play-off appearance in eight seasons. The work is not done. Pedro Lopez’s appetite for a championship not sated. Only the Eastern League title can satisfy that hunger.

Even so, one has to wonder what’s next for the B-Met skipper. Polite and approachable, Pedro Lopez loves to talk baseball. He’s one of those people who makes you feel you bring something important to the table even when you’re interrupting him looking for a comment or two about his baseball team. Pedro Lopez was a catcher for seven seasons in the minor leagues. Historically, catchers many times make great managers, and more major league skippers rise through the ranks to the manager’s office from that position more than any other. Consider some of the names: Joe TorreJoe GirardiBruce BochyMike SciosciaClint HurdleGene LamontTony PenaJim LeylandConnie MackNed YostYogi Berra. The list could go on and on.

An argument could me made that a professional baseball catcher receives expert training to someday manage. Catchers need to be diplomatic negotiating with pitchers on piecing together a game plan each and every day. Patience and tolerance, two important leadership attributes in any field, are a must.

Catchers are field generals, captains, the only players to see the entire field. They analyze pitchers, analyze hitters, and study the intricacies and strategies employed in the game. And, catchers are in a daily managing training program. An outfielder might go an entire series without ever saying much more than hello to his manager. Not so for a catcher. They rarely go a half inning without the manager or the pitching coach checking in.

As his team gets ready for postseason play, the addition of Plawecki should bolster an already talented roster. The 22 year old backstop has had a brilliant campaign splitting time with St. Lucie and Savannah. Already considered a plus defender as a catcher, he’s best known for his potent bat which posted a .304/.390/.447 this season. He gives his new skipper some more punch to pursue that championship.

With the unparalleled 2013 success of the Binghamton Mets, Pedro Lopez continues to grow and polish his managing resume. What comes next? I don’t know. You tell me.

What do you think?

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Mets Summer of ’73: The Birth of “Ya Gotta Believe” http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-summer-of-73-the-birth-of-ya-gotta-believe.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/04/mets-summer-of-73-the-birth-of-ya-gotta-believe.html/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2013 12:00:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=113351 gal-70smets-13-jpg

TUG McGRAW: Coined one of the best slogans ever.

As far as team slogans go, the 1973 Mets’ rallying cry “Ya Gotta Believe’’ may not rank with Knute Rockne’s “Win one for the Gipper,’’ but it stood the test of time, lasting far longer than Reingold’s “Ten Minute Head.’’

Had it been a movie, the late and great Roger Ebert would have given it a thumbs down for it’s corniness.

Going into the season, the 1973 team was arguably more talented than the 1969 Miracle Mets, with the additions of Rusty Staub, Jon Matlack, John Milner and Felix Millan. This was a team to be feared and sprinted out of the gate at 4-0, and was in first place by late April. However, overcome by injuries, the Mets nose-dived into the cellar, 7 ½ games behind by July 26. They dropped to 12 games below .500 with 44 games to play on August 16.

Even so, they were still within shouting distance in the mediocre National League East. It would be tough, Mets Chairman of the Board M. Donald Grant thought, but there were all those tickets to home games in September that needed to be sold.

MCGRAW: You win with heart, too.

MCGRAW: You win with heart, too.

Grant addressed the team and told them not to quit because there was time to turn things around. After all, he had had recent history to fall back on as the 1969 team overcame an eight-game August deficit to the Cubs.

That’s when closer Tug McGraw stood up and shouted, “that’s right, we can do it, Ya gotta believe.’’ It was a moment of “was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor,’’ exuberance that stuck with those Mets.

The Mets, Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs tripped over each other for much of September, but Yogi Berra’s team was the most consistent, and had to be considering the ground it had to make up.

The Mets won 24 of 35 games to make up those 12 games and move into first place on Sept. 21, with a 10-2 rout of Pittsburgh behind Tom Seaver.

It was a fragile lead as only 2 ½ games separated them from fifth-place Chicago.

“We’ve been hot,’’ Berra said at the time. “But I have to say it’s still wide open.’’

The Mets swept a two-game series with St. Louis and split a two-game series with Montreal before heading into Wrigley Field that final weekend with a one-game lead. On Friday the Mets were rained out, but Montreal beat Pittsburgh. The scenario repeated itself on Saturday.

By now, St. Louis leapfrogged Pittsburgh and trailed by 1½ games going into Sunday. The Mets split a double-header to go to 81-79 while the Cardinals were 81-81.

That set up another double-header for Monday with the Mets needing a split to win the division title, which Seaver gave them by winning the first game.

This might have been the Mets’ grittiest team, and it’s soundtrack being McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ as he slapped his glove on his thigh.

Although McGraw repeated the slogan with the 1980 Phillies, and Philadelphia fans tried to resurrect it several years ago, it didn’t have the same impact as it did when it woke up New York, the team and the city, during the Summer of 1973.

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Special Feature: Saluting The 1973 Mets; The Start Of A Series http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/special-feature-saluting-the-1973-mets-the-start-of-a-series.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/03/special-feature-saluting-the-1973-mets-the-start-of-a-series.html/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 13:59:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=111966 mays

MAYS: ENDURING IMAGE OF A FORGOTTEN TEAM

The Mets have made four World Series appearances, with each of those seasons and Octobers giving us cherished memories.

But, only one – the nearly forgotten 1973 team, with the still memorable rallying cry of “Ya Gotta Believe,’’ – identifies with the tumultuous ride this franchise has been on since its birth as the replacement child for the kids New York really loved – the Dodgers and Giants.

Think of it, the Mets’ colors are Giant orange and Dodger blue. The early rivals, before realignment with divisions, were against the teams that fled, namely because the wounds were still fresh.

Ah, c’mon, we don’t have to think that much. Let’s not go forty years to analyze. Go back only four when the owner of this team was criticized for honoring his beloved Dodgers at the opening of Citi Field – complete with the Jackie Robinson rotunda – more than his own team.

The Summer of 69 was special in that it was the first. It was the summer of Vietnam, the year after the race riots than burned numerous cities in America, including nearby Newark, and, the close of the decade seeing a man walk on the moon.

Countless times that summer, the improbability of the Mets’ drive to the World Series was compared to the moon landing. They were the Miracle Mets, but often overlooked in that season was dominant pitching, and dominant pitching usually wins.

That team doesn’t totally identity with the franchise because of how close it was to its birth. Seven years after first pitch in the Polo Grounds and the Mets are champions? That stuff only happens in the movies, and while it was a special, sometimes the ride is still hard to believe. Then again, there are some who still can’t believe man walked on the moon.

The 1986 champions did not identify with the franchise’s personality in that it was brash, bold and overwhelming, hardly descriptors fitting the Mets. During the season it bullied the National League. Only in the playoffs and its two Game Sixes, did it show the comeback, gritty nature associated with the franchise.

The 2000 team lost to the Yankees in the “Subway Series,’’ which was a marketing salute to a past that existed before the Mets were even a gleam William Shea’s eye. Wasn’t the whole build up of that World Series just a love-fest for what baseball was in the Fifties, the Golden Age of the sport in New York?

Remember, that was age that didn’t include the Mets and the Yankees won.

The World Series run that most identifies with this franchise’s nature was the gritty season of 1973. The Mets, as usual, were underdogs to Pittsburgh and St. Louis in the division, to Cincinnati in the NLCS, and Oakland in the World Series.

When the Mets won they’ve had good pitching. Tom Seaver was still here and joined by Jon Matlack, but they didn’t have a 20-game winner that season. They also didn’t have a .300 hitter and were at the bottom in runs scored. Save the 1986 monster and a few subsequent seasons with the Darryl Strawberry-Keith Hernandez-Gary Carter core, the Mets have rarely been a masher franchise. That’s just not them.

They were in last place as late as August 26. Then came the free-for-all pennant race in September, with the Mets getting a disputed call that enabled them outlast the Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs. The Mets won the win the division with a muddied 82-79 record, the worst in baseball history for a division winner.

For the number of teams involved, it was one of the more compelling pennant races in history, but lost in the mediocrity of the combatants. The still new divisional alignment required another step, which was the expected slaughter at the hands of the Big Red Machine, which was on its own historic run.

The Mets brawled their way through the NLCS with the enduring image being Bud Harrelson going afterPete Rose on a play at second. The Mets rallied to beat the Reds and hung tough against Oakland with their arms, those on the mound and Rusty Staub’s dangling at his side.

It was a season that showed the improbable, yet resilient nature that has been the Mets. The record typifies the franchise, which has lost more than it has won in fifty years. At 3885-4237, there has been more frustration than glory. The irony is it was managed by a man, Yogi Berra, whose career was all about winning.

From start to finish, the 1973 season most typifies the ride of this franchise than any of the other pennant winners. The 1973 team tells the story, with its collection of non-descript players joined by its best player and an iconic star on his last legs. The 1973 team overachieved, which has been a Mets’ signature, but left us unsatisfied and wanting more, feelings all Mets’ fans know so well.

The story of the Mets is captured in two images.

There’s the unabashed joy of Jesse Orosco in 1986 after striking out Marty Barrett to end the World Series as champions. There’s also the pain and anguish of Willie Mays – somebody else’s star – on his knees, pleading for a call in the 1973 Series.

Now, which picture best shows us fifty years of Mets’ baseball?

This season I will salute the 1973 team on New York Mets Report, with a series that each week highlights a game, event or player profile. Hope you enjoy.

Thoughts from Joe D.

John, I’m very excited to be working with you again on another new Mets feature. I loved the 1973 season. As I look at the image we have on the top of this post, I can’t help but notice how symbolic it is of our plight during the last 51 years of Mets baseball. So close, but yet so far… Next week, we’ll retell the tale of how the slogan “Ya Gotta Believe” first came about. All you newbies out there pay attention.ya gotta believe button

This season me and Joe DeCaro of Metsmerized Online will be collaborating on this new feature saluting the 1973 Mets.  Both on MMO and here on New York Mets Report, each week we will highlight a game, event or player profile commemorating that unforgettable season. Hope you enjoy.

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Baseball Is Ninety Percent Mental http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/baseball-is-ninety-percent-mental.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2012/10/baseball-is-ninety-percent-mental.html/#comments Fri, 26 Oct 2012 15:49:01 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=99409

“Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

Everyone loves a good “Yogism.” The funny thing about that one in particular, is that it makes absolutely no sense, and yet it makes perfect sense at the same time. Yogi’s math didn’t add up, but he was definitely on to something.

Psychologists are more convinced than ever that our lives gravitate toward the directions of our most dominant thoughts. In other words, people with very positive outlooks, tend to live very positive lives – while those with more negative outlooks, tend to lead more negative lives. You’ve heard the saying “we reap what we sow” – well psychologists are finding that this saying may be more than just a saying. It may hold a deeper meaning.

The same ideas hold true in the sports world, but especially baseball, where Yogi cleverly proclaimed that baseball is really ninety percent mental, and only half physical. The athletes’ minds are often where the games are won or lost. Not necessarily on the field. A study was once conducted on Olympic athletes where they were connected to bio-feedback equipment, and then asked to close their eyes, and run the race in their minds. They weren’t moving their limbs, but the equipment was picking up the muscle fibers firing in the same way as if they were actually running the race. And thus, the art of visualization was born. Many athletes practice this today, where they play out the events of a game in their mind before it happens.

I am reminded of a story I heard about Jose Lima which reflects the power the mind has over the athlete’s performance. I’m sure everyone remembers his very dominating 1998 and 1999 seasons, but Lima will be remembered more for his legendary collapse starting in the year 2000, and how he was never able to get his career back on track after that year. People will say that they don’t understand why an athlete’s careers can do a complete 360 like Lima’s did. They attribute it to the athlete simply not having it anymore. I’m not saying that can’t happen, but athletes’ skills tend to erode slowly as they age, and not just shut off like a switch. When we see a collapse of that magnitude, where it seems as if someone flipped a switch on a player’s career, the switch is most likely in the player’s mind, and not so much in the physical.

In Lima’s case, the Houston Astros happened to be moving into Minute Maid Park for the start of the 2000 season. This was the season which followed his most dominant 21 win season in 1999. Lima was on top of the pitching world. As the story goes – after Minute Maid was built, Lima was touring the stadium and walked out on to the field and to the pitcher’s mound. He looked around. He saw the short distance to the left field seats. This was clearly a hitter’s ballpark. After a 21 win season, and a career that seemed to be headed for super stardom, Lima looked around and proclaimed he would never be able to pitch in that stadium. What followed his thoughts was probably one of the biggest collapses an athlete can ever have. Sadly, he never got his career back on track.

As you can see, the mind is very powerful. Baseball is one of the more cerebral sports. Hitting slumps in baseball are generally mental, and sometimes a simple changing of thinking can break hitters out of slumps. The hitters that can’t change the thinking which has gotten them into the slumps, tend to wallow in slumps, sometimes never to return back to form (like Jason Bay– we will get to this later). A lot of times, the thinking is acting as a placebo effect. A player that thinks that they can’t hit in particular places, or pitch in particular places, actually causes it to occur.

This placebo effect could also be why players careers tend to take off when they move on to other teams. Simply thinking that they could not play in one city, and that playing in a new city will be better for them, is sometimes all that is needed. It makes you wonder if performance enhancing drugs in baseball actually make the players better baseball players, or is it the thought of using performance enhancing drugs making these players better ball players?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that PEDs do enhance physical performance – but it doesn’t give a hitter a magical power to actually make consistent contact with the baseball. A player that couldn’t hit a curveball before using PEDs, won’t be able to all of a sudden start hitting curveballs after using PEDs. The ball may go further after making contact, but it is the mental perception that using the PED will make them better players actually making them better hitters. It’s not the PED itself making the players better hitters.

Now on to how this all applies to the New York Mets, and more specifically Jason Bay. Jason Bay seems to be experiencing a very similar collapse to that of Jose Lima. I’m not really sure what happened when Bay arrived in New York, but it was clearly the point that his career took a turn for the worst. You will never get me to believe that he just lost all his ability overnight. This collapse was more than likely due to something mental.

Bay may never be the same. Much like Lima, he may never regain is super star status. The thoughts of failure may be so entrenched now, that even a change of scenery may not be the placebo needed for Bay to regain his all-star caliber play. Jason Bay expects to make outs at the plate. He has lost the battle in his mind. I firmly believe the physical tools are still there, because if they weren’t, the Mets probably would just cut him, and let him play independent baseball somewhere. They are keeping him around to see if he can flip that mental switch, and get his career back on track. They hope he can at least give them some sort of production, because physically, he still can.

I’m no psychologist, but I have been through slumps. The majority of the time, it’s not anything physical or anything mechanical causing it. I understand how easy it is to get caught up in a slump because you are trying to avoid making outs, instead of getting hits. I have to say, it is a shame to see how Jason Bay has let this take control of him. If he can get back in control, I really have no doubts that he can be a productive player again. The question is, can he get back in control?

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Mets Should Bring Back Old-Timers Day In 2011 http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/12/mets-should-bring-back-old-timers-day-in-2011.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2010/12/mets-should-bring-back-old-timers-day-in-2011.html/#comments Tue, 21 Dec 2010 12:00:05 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=40580

Last week I wrote about how the Mets need to find ways to entice the fans to come out to the ballpark in 2011.  Last week I brought up the idea of retiring 17 in honor Keith Hernandez.  I thought it would give Mets fans something to look forward to during the long season that 2011 will be and I thought that when looking back on 2011 it would be a fun thing to remember.

The Mets have not had an old-timers days since 1994.  Back in 2009 WFAN’s Evan Roberts stirred up a bit of controversy when he relayed a quote from a Mets executive in regards to old-timers day.  Roberts said his source told him that it was too much work hosting old-timers day and that is why the Mets stopped doing it.  Dave Howard tried to do some damage control by saying:

It was particularly unpopular as a promotion. We didn’t see an increase in ticket sales or interest from sponsors or even from people who already had tickets. It died of its own unpopularity in the early ’90s.

I don’t know about you readers but one of the only times I ever watch the YES Network for baseball is on old-timers day.  I enjoy seeing the legendary players such as Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, etc…  Even Darryl Strawberry has donned the pinstripes over the years for the Yankees on old-timers day.  I watch it to see some of the legendary players and it looks like a lot of fun to be honest, seeing these older players who retired long ago having some fun playing the game.

I know a lot of Yankees fans who really look forward to old-timers day and go every year to see it.  They always tell me how much fun it is.  Now I can understand how in the 90′s they didn’t attract a lot of fans.  The early 90′s were not especially kind to the Mets and their fans.  However as the saying goes, “that was then, this is now.”

We learned in 2009 after the Citi Field opened how passionate Mets fans are about their history.  As nice and shiny Citi Field was there was not much of the Mets history on display and the fans let the Mets know how they felt about that proving that this fanbase wants to acknowledge their past.

Just thinking about an old-timers day while writing this piece has me excited.  I would love to see Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden pitch while Mike Piazza catches them in an old-timers game. I’m sure we all would like to see Darryl Strawberry hit in Citi Field.  I would love to see the Mets of yesteryear on the field, playing in a game.

I’m sure we all have our favorites whether they be Rusty Staub or John Franco or Bobby Valentine, Wally Backman, Keith Hernandez, Buddy Harrelson and many more favorite Mets on the field, playing in an old-timers day.

I know I would look forward to it as the season goes on and I’m sure if done right it will be a fun memory to have of the 2011 season.

In comments, let me know if you agree or disagree and for fun list some of the Mets you would love to see playing an old-timers day in the future.

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Speed, Pitching and Defense, But What About Fundamentals? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/speed-pitching-and-defense-but-what-about-fundamentals.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/09/speed-pitching-and-defense-but-what-about-fundamentals.html/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2009 18:34:09 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=12572 The New York Mets have released a statement that they will not be altering the dimensions of Citi Field for the 2010 season based on the recommendations of Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel.

Ed Eagle of Mets.com writes,

The Mets’ franchise legacy has been built upon strong pitching, and they’ll need to continue to focus on that aspect of their team-building to be successful in their new home in the future.

Citing a team source, the New York Daily News reported Thursday that the Mets plan to keep Citi Field at its current pitcher-friendly dimensions for the 2010 season upon the recommendations of general manager Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel.

I’m actually a little surprised by the news and I thought for sure the Mets would shorten the height of portions of the wall. Either way, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal, and personally I like the dimensions and the uniqueness of Citi Field.

One of the things that caught my attention was the following quote by Jerry Manuel which was included in the article.

“We’re going to try to build a team with speed and defense and pitching,” Manuel told the newspaper. “I think that fits that style.”

I have a few issues with that quote…

First, he says that we are going to try and build a team. So does that mean we are officially in rebuild mode?

If that’s the case, than what direction are the Mets going in heading into this off season?

Manuel says, and I agree with him, that the Mets will focus on speed, defense and pitching.

I think we can all agree that with a healthy Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and David Wright, the Mets will continue to be one of fastest teams in the league. The emergence of Angel Pagan will play into it as well.

Defensively, the Mets have some work to do.They are fifth in the league with 82 errors and their star third baseman leads the team with 13. Before Jose Reyes went on the DL, he was on the verge of a woeful defensive season, and in 35 games played, he already had five errors to go with a career worst .966 fielding percentage. Obviously, Dan Murphy has improved some since taking over at first base, but he still ranks in the bottom when compared to all first basemen and he doesn’t make up for it with his bat. Leftfield has been a carousel of bad defenders which started with the inept Dan Murphy. Angel Pagan might be a glimmer of hope, but I want to see more of him before drawing any definitive conclusions.

Now we come to pitching. I would love to know exactly how the Mets will play this hand. Here you have a pitching staff that is fortunate enough to pitch in one of baseball’s largest parks, and yet they lead the league in walks. Somebody please explain that to me because it doesn’t compute if you were to apply the laws of logic. In a post by Ed Leyro on this site, there is a good debate on the virtues of Dan Warthen. If job performance is still judged by results, and last time I checked most teams west of the East River still operate that way, than the question is why is Dan Warthen still here? Not one pitcher has stepped up on his watch and in fact you could safely assert that every Mets pitcher has declined under his tutelage. As one reader writes, that includes K-Rod, Santana, Pelfrey, Perez and Putz.

Will the Mets go out and revamp the rotation as they did the bullpen last off season? In 2008, Minaya failed to address the concerns in the bullpen and said “they simply had a bad year”. He was wrong and was forced to revamp the entire bullpen after the season.

Will he do the same in 2010? Will he simply say that Pelfrey and company simply had a bad year and do nothing? Is next season riding on the questionable returns of Oliver Perez, John Maine, Johan Santana and Jon Niese who are all coming back from surgery?

The Mets have a ton of work to do if they want the ideal pitching staff to compliment the dimensions of Citi Field. However, I am convinced this off season will feature a bunch of hot air from Mets management that the Mets already have that ideal pitching staff, and that they will comeback healthier and better in 2010. If they do revamp the rotation, we might have to wait yet another year as we did in 2008 with the bullpen. The Mets are notorious for not learning from past mistakes.

Finally, why is it that the Mets higher-ups never mention the word “fundamentals”?

If you’re going to build a team that you hope will come out on the winning end of a 2-1 ballgame, shouldn’t fundamentals be the number one priority?

Think about how many fewer errors, and fewer baserunning mistakes, and fewer walks the Mets would have had this season if they simply used their heads out there on the field. I bet you could easily add 8-10 mores victories to the win column if only they had a coaching staff that focused on elevating this team’s baseball IQ.

Unless you have a fundamentally sound team, it doesn’t really matter how good your speed and pitching is. Your mental mistakes will always find you in this game. If the Mets are banking on going toe to toe in mostly one-run and two-run games,  they can start by overhauling their approach to the game, because in the end Yogi Berra was right,

“Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.”

By the way, it was great to see Yogi take part in the festivities last month when we honored the 1969 Mets.

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It Was A Memorable 1969 Tribute http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/it-was-a-memorable-1969-tribute.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/it-was-a-memorable-1969-tribute.html/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2009 17:12:12 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11465

I have to hand it to the New York Mets for doing an excellent job of putting that 1969 Mets tribute together. It was so touching to see all those great Mets of the past, together again for one last time. Unfortunately, many of those who played for the Amazin’s in that magical season have passed on, but I’m sure they were smiling down on their former teammates and even helped to hold back the rain so that the festivities can go on.

I was so happy to finally see Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan wearing his number 30 Mets jersey for the first time in 38 years. After seven no-hitters, he returned to honor the team that gave him his only World Series ring. Maybe his presence may have snapped the curse that has kept us from tossing our own no-hitter. Lets keep our fingers crossed!

Tom Seaver was his usual elegant and eloquent self, and he graced us with some of the night’s most memorable quotes. Seaver went 25-7 with a 2.21 ERA in 1969 to win the first of his three Cy Young awards. He spoke for the team after everyone was announced, telling the crowd that the improbable World Series championship was a thread that ties the team members, their children, grandchildren and the fans of that team together forever.

“People called us the Miracle Mets, but nothing was impossible when you played for Gil Hodges. You believed in us and we believed we could do it. Thank you, New York.”

I hope most of you were able to watch.

Finally, here is a list compiled by NorthJersey.com of all the 1969 Mets and where they are now.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW

What the surviving members of the 1969 world champion Mets are doing now and the list of deceased members:

Coach – Yogi Berra, Owner, Yogi Berra Museum. Lives is Montclair

2B – Ken Boswell, Rancher, Austin, Texas

3B – Ed Charles, Retired, Queens, N.Y.

P – Jack DiLauro, Consultant, Hudson Capital LLC, Malvern, Ohio

C – Duffy Dyer, Minor league instructor, Padres, Phoenix

SS – Bobby Pfeil, Apartment renovations, Stockton, Calif.

3B – Wayne Garrett, Florida Irrigation, Sarasota, Fla.

P – Gary Gentry, Director of retirement home, Phoenix

OF – Rod Gasper, Owner of money management firm, Mission Viejo, Calif.

C – Jerry Grote, Owner, Texas Java coffee house, Belton, Texas

SS – Bud Harrelson, Co-owner, Long Island Ducks, Hauppauge, N.Y.

LF – Cleon Jones, Retired, Mobile, Ala.

P – Jerry Koosman, Retired, Osceola, Wis.

1B – Ed Kranepool, IRN Credit Card Processing, Jericho, N.Y.

C – J.C. Martin, Retired, Advance, N.C.

P- Jim McAndrew, Retired, Fountain Hills, Ariz.

Coach Joe Pignatano, Retired, Brooklyn, N.Y.

P – Nolan Ryan, President, Texas Rangers, Dallas

P – Tom Seaver, Vineyard owner, Calistoga, Calif.

1B/OF – Art Shamsky, Author, New York City

RF – Ron Swoboda, Radio, TV announcer, New Orleans

P – Ron Taylor, Team physician, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto

2B – Al Weis, Retire,d Elmhurst, Ill.

Coach – Eddie Yost, Retired, Wesley, Mass.

Members who are deceased

Mgr. Gil Hodges, died April 2, 1972

Coach – Rube Walker, died Dec. 12, 1992

P – Cal Koonce, died Oct. 28, 1993

CF – Tommie Agee, died Jan. 22, 2001

1B – Donn Clendenon, died Sept. 17, 2005

P – Tug McGraw, died Jan. 5, 2004

P – Don Cardwell, died Jan. 14, 2008

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Oh What A Night It Was! http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/oh-what-a-night-it-was.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2009/08/oh-what-a-night-it-was.html/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 15:21:17 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=11591 On Saturday night the Mets paid tribute to the 1969 Miracle Mets. While the 2009 Mets season will be a season we would like to forget, the Mets management did get one thing right, that was the fantastic, emotional and classy tribute given to these heroes of forty years ago.

I was out at CitiField Saturday night. I seated in the very last row of seats in the stadium, but the large scoreboard afforded everyone a great a view of the celebration. Here a re just a few of my thoughts.

Firstly, props to Howie Rose the on field emcee. I write a lot about the SNY guys, but Rose is about as great a broadcaster as there is. Is work on WFAN is solid. He knows the Mets inside and out. His love and respect for the Mets shows in his work. Howie always hands in a professional job, and Saturday night was no different. Keep in mind Rose grew up a Met fan, these were his boyhood heroes, and now he had the chance to emcee this event. He was great.

The Mets went to great lengths to bring back as many 1969 family members as possible. The image of Mrs. Payson on the scoreboard brought tears to my eyes, and the introduction of her daughter brought boos from the audience. Joy Murphy, the great Bob Murphy’s wife was there. Is was apparent by the applause she received that although Murph is gone he’s not forgotten. Gil Hodges who managed the 1969 was represented by his wife Joan and son Gil. Also drawing a large round of applause was Mr. Kiner and his wife.

While I’m too young to remember the 1969 Mets, I do remember watching some of these guys play with the Mets in 1970′s. Its always fun guessing who the next player to be introduced would be, and to my surprise I knew a great deal of them. Yogi Berra was a coach of the 1969 Mets and received a very warm welcome from the fans. Ron Swoboda also received a very warm welcome, but the largest welcome were reserved for three pitchers. Lefthander Jerry Koosman was greeted with cheers of KOOS, KOOS, KOOS. It was awesome for Nolan Ryan, The Ryan Express to come back home. The Hall of Famer received a large round of applause, and lets hope Ryan doesn’t stay for so long in the future. Of course the largest cheers were reserved for The Franchise. After his introduction, Tom Seaver addressed the Met fans. It was so typical of Seaver. Ever so humble and boyish. Expressing his admiration for Gil Hodges, and his appreciation of the Met fans.

The first pitch was thrown by Seaver, Ryan, and Koosman, to catchers Duffy Dyer, Jerry Grote and Yogi Berra. What an awesome moment. As hokey as it was the celebration ended with a recording of the 1969 Mets singing “You Gotta Have Heart” on the Ed Sullivan show.

Even though the Mets lost the game to Phillies, it was a great night at CitiField ( I still call it Shea). The highlight of the 2009 season for me.

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