Jun 06

Piersall Touches Them All… Backwards

Jim Piersall is one of dozens of major leaguers who played with the Mets at the tail end of his career. And, what a memorable career it was. He wasn’t always spectacular, but he was entertaining, such as on this date in 1963 while with the Mets he celebrated his 100th career homer by rounding the bases backwards.

PIERSALL: Magical Mystery Tour

While there are some pretty creative prop bets created for the MLB, even sportsbooks in modern times could not have predicted what happened next. Two days later he was released by manager Casey Stengel, who said of him: “He’s great, but you have to play him in a cage.’’

He wasn’t a Hall of Fame player, but definitely a Hall of Fame personality and character, who suffered from bipolar disorder was committed to a mental hospital in 1952. His experience led to his autobiography, “Fear Strikes Out,’’ which became a movie.

In his book, Piersall wrote: “Probably the best thing that ever happened to me was going nuts. Whoever heard of Jimmy Piersall until that happened?”

Piersall’s mother, Mary, suffered from mental illness and was committed to a sanitarium, and it wasn’t too deep in his career that her son began showing bizarre, uncontrollable behavior.

Piersall would take a bow after catches in the outfield. He brawled with Billy Martin – then again, who didn’t? – then fought with his teammate Mickey McDermott. He snorted like a pig at Satchel Paige.

Piersall’s best years were with the Red Sox, when he made two All-Star teams, including in 1956 when he hit .293 with 14 homers and 87 RBI. He hit 19 homers the following year, but after his average dropped to .237 in 1958 he was traded to Cleveland.

While with the Indians, he threw a ball at the Comiskey Park scoreboard in Chicago, and after being dusted by Yankees pitcher Jim Coates, threw his bat at him.

Piersall was eventually traded to Washington, and the Senators dealt him to the Mets for Gil Hodges.

Stengel, who managed Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, said of Piersall: “I thought Joe DiMaggio was the greatest defensive outfielder I ever saw, but I have to rate Piersall better.’’

Following his release from the Mets, Piersall signed with the Angels. After three seasons with the Angels, he was released in 1967 and eventually retired.

After he retired, Piersall bounced around baseball in several capacities, including being hired by Martin in Texas as an outfield instructor, and later as a broadcaster with the White Sox teamed with Harry Caray.

PIERSALL’s CAREER

May 30

Chris Young and Sandy’s Big Gamble

chris young

Sandy Alderson’s $7.25 million gamble that Chris Young would suddenly revitalize his career by offering him an everyday role has come up snake-eyes for the New York Mets GM.

As Young shown throughout his career, he was not able to suddenly start hitting righthanded pitching the way Sandy thought he would simply by letting him face more of them. You see the trick to this game is to try and minimize the bad at-bats, the bad matchups, the bad results.

You can’t put out a fire by dousing it with gasoline, and that’s essentially what has happened here with Chris Young.

Alderson believed that CY’s .219 batting average over the last two years was an aberration and the result of inconsistent playing time. Wrong.

However, all the extra playing time has now resulted in career worst numbers for Young who went 0-for-3 on Wednesday and is now batting .195 with three homers and 11 RBI for the season. Hardly the middle of the order slugger Sandy thought he was getting when he decided to invest 9 percent of his payroll budget on him.

Young’s playing days are now winding down and the rebuilding Mets have turned to 40-year old Bobby Abreu as their short term solution, opting for the grizzled veteran instead of younger options like Eric Campbell or Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who homered two more times last night for Triple-A Las Vegas.

The impetus for the Mets underperforming offense which led to the firing of hitting coach Dave Hudgens, is as much on the shoulders of Chris Young more than any other player on the roster.

Seeing Young fail again and again in endless RBI situations may have been the tipping point for what transpired after the weekend series with the Diamondbacks. 

What happens now?

It’s tough to say now that Collins has grown enamored with Abreu, who was only supposed to be the bat off the bench and not someone getting a healthy diet of everyday playing time.

But you have to believe that at some point Nieuwenhuis, who is 14 years younger than Abreu and has hit eight homers this season, more than any other player on the Mets roster, will get another chance to show if he belongs.

There’s no guarantee that Kirk will be the answer. But in a true rebuild and on most any major league roster with an eye toward the future, the choice between Chris Young, Bobby Abreu and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, wouldn’t be as difficult a decision as it seems to be for the Mets.

May 18

A Message For Our Readers

April 18

I just wanted to update and let you know that John is still hospitalized after suffering a significant setback which will need another surgery to resolve it.

He told me to pass along the fact that he misses all his readers and especially writing about the Mets.

March 31

I wanted to pass along that about a week ago, John had a very serious fall that resulted in a few severe injuries including a compound fracture of his arm.

He’s been hospitalized for the last ten days and had surgery to place titanium plates and screws to repair his breaks.

However there have been some complications and he will remain hospitalized for at least another week.

I wanted to make his readers aware.

Please keep him in your prayers as he tries to overcome his injuries and get back to writing.

May 16

DeGrom Snaps Mets Pitcher’s Hitless Streak

jacob degrom

It has happened, folks…

At 7:59 PM on Thursday night, during the Subway Series finale at Citi Field, righthander Jacob deGrom stroked a single off Chase Whitley of the Yankees to snap the 0-for-64 hitless streak by Mets pitchers.

The former college shortstop lined one in front of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury to put runners on first and third.

The Mets fateful greeted him with a standing ovation as he stood at first base, probably unaware of what had just transpired.

As for his pitching performance in his debut, in a word, spectacular!

Good for him!

Apr 29

Dillon Gee and His Amazing Streak

DILLON GEE, RHP

There might not be any starting pitcher in the game who is more underrated than the Mets’ Dillon Gee. The righthander delivered his best effort of the season on Sunday, tossing eight shutout innings against the Miami Marlins to help the Mets take the series two games to one.

Gee, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday, struck out five and confounded the Marlins with his signature changeup and a slider that’s become a great out pitch for him. Whenever he’s on the mound, he gives the team a chance to win and the baseball odds at Allpro confirm it.

“It was one of those good days,” Gee said. “I just try to go out there each time it’s my turn and do the best I can and get as deep as I can, and give us a chance to win. As long as we win at the end of the day, I’m a happy guy.”

Despite having thrown 110 pitches, Gee wanted to pitch the ninth, but was told no by manager Terry Collins.

Opponents are now hitting .193 against Gee this season. He has an 0.86 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in his last three starts, in which he’s allowed only two extra-base hits.

“He got us to where we wanted to get to,” Collins said, “That was pretty much the end.”

Gee’s remarkable stretch that began last season when he struck out 12 Yankees on May 30, has him among the game’s elite. The Mets righty has a 2.75 ERA over his last 28 starts, topped only by Clayton KershawZack GreinkeYu DarvishJulio TeheranMax Scherzer and Adam Wainwright. among pitchers with 20 or more starts in that span.

For the season, Gee’s ERA stands at a pristine 2.88 with a 1.043 WHIP. Better yet, over his last three starts he’s 2-1 with a 0.86 ERA.

It might be time to start talking about an extension with Gee, who has become the most reliable starter in the Mets rotation and one of the top arms in the NL.