Jun 26

Today in Mets’ History: Looking at Rusty Staub.

Rusty Staub was one of the good guys in Mets’ history, not to mention one of their better players. Who can forget him playing the 1973 World Series with basically one arm?

STAUB: Pinch-hitter delux

Staub developed into one of the game’s great pinch-hitters. On this date in 1983, Staub tied Dave Philley’s then major league record  with his eighth consecutive pinch-hit in the first game of a doubleheader against Philadelphia.

Staub played 23 seasons in the major leagues, including nine with the Mets. He broke in with Houston in 1963 – the Astros’ second year of existence – then played with Montreal (1969-71); the Mets (1972-75); Detroit (1976-79), where he had three of his best seasons; another brief stint with the Expos at the end of the 1979 season; Texas in 1980; and finally five more years with the Mets.

Staub finished with 2,716 hits and 292 homers.

After his career, Staub worked on Mets’ telecasts, then own and operated two restaurants in Manhattan. He is a chef and wine connoisseur.

The Expos retired Staub’s No. 10 in 1993.

STAUB CAREER

Jun 25

I’m glad Davey is back

Of all the managers I’ve covered, Davey Johnson might be the most intriguing. He heard, and marched to one drum, that being his own. He might be the only person to be named manager of the year and fired on the same day.

JOHNSON: He's back.

Many of the memories I carry from covering Major League Baseball for over 20 years happened off the field and not during a game, such as the afternoon in Baltimore when I was sitting next to Johnson during his pre-game press briefing.

Johnson was winding things down, when unprompted, threw out this nugget. Maybe it was to mess with our upcoming off day.

“You know,’’ he began in that slow drawl of his, “I’ve been thinking of moving Cal Ripken to third base.’’

Nugget? For an Orioles’ writer then, it was a bombshell. And, to make it more interesting is he floated the idea without talking to Ripken. He knew we’d all flock to Ripken like ants at a picnic, and this might have been his way of testing the waters.

Another time, Bobby Bonilla – the ultimate team player – didn’t want to play as the DH, this coming several weeks after saying he’d do anything to help the Orioles.

When he name wasn’t in the lineup, Johnson told us Bonilla had a sore ankle and underwent treatment. When asked about his ankle, Bonilla let loose the following obscenity: “Why don’t you ask the (bleeping) manager how it is?’’

Johnson was shaming Bonilla to DH.

Any team Johnson manages is his team, and he takes crap from nobody. Not an iconic figure like

Ripken, not a faux star such as Bonilla, and not a prima donna rookie.

Johnson had his way of dealing with players, and one was to utilize the press, and we were all willing to scoop up what he said.

The Orioles were in Milwaukee one year and going through a miserable stretch, and on this day they blew a game to the Brewers in the late innings. The clubhouse at old County Stadium didn’t have a manager’s office. Instead, there was a desk adjacent to the trainer’s room and players passed by us throughout the interview.

Speaking loud enough where everybody could hear, Johnson took apart his team, basically holding a team meeting in front of the press. No cursing, no yelling, no name calling. But, it was clear he was angry and not in a tolerant mood.

Johnson, of course, as he did with the Mets, got his point across.

Later in that series, Johnson made a decision I didn’t understand.

“Davey,’’ I asked. “I’m not being a wise guy. But, I don’t know as much baseball as you and don’t understand that decision. Could you explain?’’

As Johnson stared at me for a couple of seconds, I felt his glare go through me, but I never released eye contact. He realized I wasn’t kidding, that I didn’t understand, so he laid it all out for me.

So sarcasm, just teaching. Johnson loves to talk about the intricacies of the game. He’s a great teacher, and he’s going to a team in the Washington Nationals that could learn from him.

When it comes to strategy and analyzing a game, few can do it like Johnson and the Nationals are lucky to have him in their dugout. He will make that team smarter and concentrate on the fundamentals.

The Nationals still don’t have the overall talent to compete this year or next, but they will be better.

I’m glad Davey is back in the game and can’t wait until the Nationals are in town.

 

Jun 25

Today in Mets’ History: Sid stars for ’86 powerhouse.

While the 1969 Mets gathered steam and rolled late in the second half, the 1986 team steamrolled the National League from start to finish as that team dominated as manager Davey Johnson projected.

FERNANDEZ: Had great stuff.

On this date in 1986, Sid Fernandez and Roger McDowell combined to stuff the Montreal Expos, 5-2, at Shea Stadium.

While Doc Gooden was the headliner, the 86 staff was solid with Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, Fernandez and Rick Aguilera.

All but Aguilera made at least 30 starts with over 200 innings pitched. There were no 20-game winners on that staff, but six pitchers all won in double digits, including McDowell, who was 14-9 in relief with 22 saves and 128 innings pitched.

Fernandez was 16-6 that season, and all indications were he was going to be a special pitcher. In many ways, Fernandez personified the Mets from that era in that he had loads of talent, but never developed into a big winner.

Fernandez never won more than the 16 games that season and finished his career in 1997 at 114-96 in 15 years with the Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Phillies and Astros.

FERNANDEZ CAREER

BOX SCORE

 

 

 

Jun 25

Texas Toast: Mets Fall To Rangers 8-1

Mike Pelfrey was hit hard early, but stabilized and Manny Acosta made sure the game was out of reach in the Mets 8-1 loss to the Rangers.

Game Notes

Mike Pelfrey went six innings, allowing four runs on eight hits, walking two and striking out three. Big Pelf gave up three of those runs in the first inning, and after that seemed to get his bearings and keep the Rangers to one run over the next five innings. As noticed, Pelfrey has allowed more HR this season then he has all last season, as evidenced by his love affair with his four-seam fastball. While this isn’t a horrible Pelfrey outing, giving up three in the first inning is a bit demoralizing.

Manny Acosta came out, decided that he likes allowing XBH to righties, specifically doubles and then home-runs to light-hitting utility men. Acosta went one and two-third innings, allowing four runs on five hits walking two and striking out one giving up two home runs. Acosta, for the most part has been atrocious this year. He has allowed more runs than innings pitched, and more hits while only striking out four. A trip to Buffalo seems in the cards, maybe upon the return of Taylor Buccholz. D.J. Carrasco got the last out of the eighth.

The offense was stifled by Matt Harrison, consistently struggling to make solid contact. Their only run was scored when Ronny Paulino doubled, advanced to third on a Daniel Murphy IF single and then scored on a Ruben Tejada single to center.

Jose Reyes – 0 for 3 with a walk. Grounded into a DP on a laser beam that Adrian Beltre ate up. Jose is beginning to hit the ball into the air a lot more, and that is when trouble ensues.

Scott Hairston – 0 for 3 – two fly outs (barely leaving the infield) and a tailor-made GIDP. With the Mets carrying six OF’s (Pridie, Pagan, Bay, Beltran, Harris, Hairston) how much longer until Hairston gets the axe?

Turning Point

Manny Acosta doing his best impersonation of a bad pitcher. Or, himself. Either/Or.

Game Ball

Jason Bay – 3 for 4 with a strikeout. They may be singles, but contact is contact. At some point, these singles may become doubles. Baby steps.

On Deck

The Mets will head into tomorrow to face Rangers righty Alexi Ogando and will send out Jon Niese. Game time is 4:10 PM. In other notes, I wonder how the Mets will respond to the intense Texas hit in the middle of the day.