Sep 09

Today in Mets’ History: The Black Cat Game

Throughout the Summer of `69, Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo celebrated each victory by clicking his heels in the air.

He clicked them often as the Cubs built a seemingly insurmountable 10-game lead by Aug. 13. However, he wouldn’t be clicking them on this day, although superstition would be the headliner.

That lead was cut to a half-game on this date as Tom Seaver, backed by homers from Donn Clendenon and Art Shamsky, beat Ferguson Jenkins and the Cubs, 7-1, in what will forever be known as “The Black Cat Game.’’

The black cat symbolized the Cubs' fall.

While the Cubs were batting, a black cat walked behind the on-deck circle where Santo was standing.

“(The cat) kept walking around their on-deck circle,’’ said Ed Kranepool in a phone interview. “The crowd kept yelling and cheering, and the cat just stayed there.’’

No, the cat wasn’t planned.

“We had a lot of cats (at Shea) because we had a lot of rats there,’’ Kranepool said.

From Aug. 14, the Mets sizzled at 39-11 while the Cubs went 21-29 during that stretch, including  8-17 in September. The Mets were 23-7 in September.

The cat is a nice story and a great piece of Mets’ lore. From the Chicago perspective, perhaps Leo Durocher burned out his team – which only played day games at home – by running out the same lineup every day. Five Cubs played in at least 150 games and two more played over 130.

Still, 92 wins for the year isn’t bad.

However, the Mets’ pitching was brilliant with 13 shutouts in August and September.

“We were playing great baseball,’’ Kranepool said. “When we came home from the West Coast (where they went 6-4) we were playing our best baseball of the season.

“The lead went from ten to six, then it kept going down.’’

BOX SCORE

The victory was the Mets’ 82nd, which assured them of their first winning season.  It was also their fourth in the midst of a stretch where they won 10 straight and 13 of 14 games to go up by 3 ½ games.

 

Sep 08

Wouldn’t mind seeing Izzy back.

Jason Isringhausen told ESPN he’d like to pitch next year, and I’m all for giving him a one-year deal. Nothing longer. Isringhausen pitched well enough to warrant attention from teams looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, but I don’t see anybody, the Mets included, signing him strictly as a closer.

IZZY: A case for bringing him back.

However, he showed the capability of getting the job done when he had to. Isringhausen saved seven games after Francisco Rodriguez was traded, and overall showed his fastball still has some life with 44 strikeouts in 46 innings.

The Mets are hoping Bobby Parnell will win the job, but he’s far from a certainty. There’s nobody else that jumps out, either. I don’t believe Isringhausen has enough left in the tank to be a fulltime closer, but he’s a great influence to have in what figures to be a young, and likely, inexperienced bullpen, next season. Parnell could do a lot worse than having Isringhausen around as his mentor. So could most everybody else in what has arguably been one of the Mets’ signature weaknesses this season.

The Mets exceeded expectations this year and should take another step in 2012. Isringhausen could get some attention from contenders, but his biggest influence still could come in Flushing. I am all for giving young guys a shot, but I’m against cutting loose veterans who still have something to offer. It’s not as if the Mets’ bullpen is loaded with fireballing, young arms with pinpoint control.

The bullpen can be a chatty place, and relief pitching is one position on a team most ripe for a younger player soaking up information regarding pitch selection, location, how to work to various hitters, and to retain one’s composure.

The man must know something with 300 career saves. Conversely, Parnell doesn’t even have 180 career innings pitched.

 

 

 

 

Sep 08

Game One lineup vs. Braves: Sept. 8

Game One: Mets batting order vs. Atlanta

Ruben Tejada, SS

Justin Turner, 2B

Lucas Duda, RF

David Wright, 3B

Angel Pagan, CF

Jason Bay, LF

Nick Evans, 1B

Ronny Paulino, C

Chris Schwinden, RP

NOTES: Jason Isringhausen has a herniated disc and will miss several days. … Manny Acosta is expected to be used in a save opportunity in Game One. … Terry Collins continues to be cautious with Jose Reyes, giving him the first game off. The sun is out and it should help dry the field, perhaps lessening the chance of Reyes aggravating his hamstring. … Mike Minor and Julio Teheran will start the doubleheader for the Braves. You’ll recall their names were prominently mentioned as sought after chips when the Braves inquired into Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence.

 

Sep 08

Wet forecast for today’s doubleheader vs. Braves.

Rookie Chris Schwinden and Dillon Gee start for the Mets in their single-admission doubleheader today at Citi Field against Atlanta. In the words of every announcer I’ve ever heard when the crowd is expected to be sparse, “there are plenty of seats available, so stop in if you’re around.’’

But, who wants to go out today?

The doubleheader is for the pair of games washed away by Hurricane Irene, and the weather will also be wet and nasty today.

One of the bright spots of this season is that the Mets aren’t playing out the string. Eight games below .500 recently, they begin the day one under, beyond most expectations coming out of spring spring training.

Several things are will be worth watching this weekend, beginning with Jose Reyes’ pursuit of the Mets’ first batting title. Bobby Parnell is competing for the closer role, but will share opportunities with Manny Acosta and Jason Isringhausen. And, Nick Evans is seeking to make an impression for a bench spot next year.

 

Sep 08

Today in Mets’ History: Final Ed Kranepool home run.

The first Met I remember as a kid was Ed Kranepool. Maybe it was the way Bob Murphy pronounced his name, I don’t know. Who really knows why things stick in your head when you’re ten years old?

KRANEPOOL: Hit final homer on this date.

My family spent our summer vacations at my grandmother’s house in Pelham, and I watched a lot of Met games. This was before the 1969 season, and they usually lost, often in agonizing fashion.

Kranepool always stood out although he wasn’t a great player. At the time, he was pretty much the best the Mets had to offer.

By 1979, I was following the Mets in the box scores and occasionally the Game of the Week. Growing up near Cleveland, the Indians were on once or twice a week, and I always thought how great it would be to live in New York when the games were on every day.

On this date that season, Kranepool hit the 118th, and final, home run of his career in a 3-2, 15-inning win over Pittsburgh.

Kranepool made his debut as a 17-year old in the Mets’ inaugural 1962 season as a defensive replacement for Gil Hodges, Sept. 22, and the next day started his first game and collected his first hit.

He began the next season splitting time at first base and right field, and was getting more time the following year. In 1965, he gave up his No. 21 to Warren Spahn and began wearing No. 7, and was the Mets’ lone representative in the All-Star Game.

Kranepool was demoted to Tidewater in 1970 and contemplated retirement, but had his best season the following year. He lost his starting job in 1973 to John Milner, and was a platoon player the next two years, and finished his career as a role player/pinch hitter, retiring at 34 in 1979.

After retirement, Kranepool was part of a group that attempted to buy the Mets, but lost out to the Nelson Doubleday-Fred Wilpon group. He worked as a stockbroker after retirement and was inducted into the Mets’ Hall of Fame in 1990.

KRANEPOOL CAREER