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.
HUNT: His card has to be worth more than two bucks.
The Mets will soon host the All-Star Game at Citi Field. However, on this date in 1964, Shea Stadium was home to its only All-Star Game, won 7-4 by the National League.
Second baseman Ron Hunt was the first Met to start an All-Star Game and went 1-for-3 with a single off the Angels’ Dean Chance.
Hunt played with the Mets from 1963-66, then went on to play with the Dodgers (1967), Giants (1968-70), Expos (1971-74) and Cardinals (also in 1974).
Hunt’s baseball legacy was summed up by this quote from him: “Some people give their bodies to science; I give mine to baseball.’’
He had a knack for being hit by pitches, and was plunked 243 times in his career (he had 1,429 career base hits). Incredibly, he was hit 50 times in 1971 while with the Giants. He led the league in that category for seven straight seasons.
There’s no interleague drama between the Mets and Angels, as is the case with most interleague match-ups.
SCIOSCIA: Hit infamous HR vs. Mets.
To me, the most interesting hook to this series is the return of Mike Scioscia against the Mets, the team during the 1980s that was supposed to be a dynasty, but won only one World Series.
There might have been another if not for Scioscia, then the catcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was Scioscia who turned around the 1988 NLCS, and subsequently might have derailed those Mets, who had won 10 of 11 games against the Dodgers during the regular season.
The Mets were up 2-1 and cruising behind Dwight Gooden in Game 4, taking a 4-2 lead into the ninth. John Shelby led off the inning with a walk, then Scioscia crushed a Gooden deliver to deep right to force the game into extra innings.
The Dodgers eventually won it in the 12th on Kirk Gibson’s homer off Roger McDowell. Without Scioscia, Gibson doesn’t hit that homer, and likely not the one against Dennis Eckersley in the World Series.
It’s always interesting to look back at some of the old Mets. Some great players made a cameo in New York at the end of their careers.
SNIDER; One last moment in the Polo Grounds.
For example, Duke Snider, who hit a three-run homer on this date in 1962 off Diomedes Olivio in the ninth inning to give the Mets a 3-2 victory over St. Louis in the Polo Grounds. It wasn’t quite the Dodgers and Giants in the 1950’s, but for one day there was a Golden Age flashback in New York.
Interesting story about when Snider first joined the Mets. Charlie Neal had No. 4, but wouldn’t give it up to Snider. Snider eventually got the number when Neal was traded.
Snider was popular with Mets’ fans who still held an emotional connection to the Dodgers – no doubt, Fred Wilpon fell into this category. Of course, what makes the Mets unique is their roots are found in two other teams, which has caused the franchise to constantly seek its own identity.
That hasn’t always been easy, and the team took considerable heat in the opening of Citi Field, which featured the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and had little acknowledgement of the Mets’ own history.
The following season, in what really was an ironic and sad turn, Snider was traded to the Giants and retired after that year.
SNIDER’S CAREER NUMBERS
The Mets’ starting pitching was projected to be a concern this season and that has been the case, ranking 14th of 16 with a 4.74 ERA and 11-17 record.
Much of the problem has been with what was supposed to be two of the more consistent pitchers, R.A. Dickey and Mike Pelfrey.
Chris Capuano, a low-risk gamble signing like Chris Young, is 2-4, but has worked into the seventh inning in three of his last four starts.
With a victory this afternoon, the Mets would be 19-21, before returning home for two-game series against Florida and Washington at Citi Field, before interleague play begins Friday at Yankee Stadium.
If you’d like to weigh in during today’s game, click onto the Mets Chat icon to your left. Looking forward to hearing from you.