Apr 08

Today In Mets History: Seaver Wins Behind Kingman, Torre

On this date in 1975, backed by Dave Kingman’s first homer as a Met and Joe Torre’s RBI single, Tom Seaver out-dueled Steve Carlton to defeat Philadelphia, 2-1, on Opening Day at Shea Stadium.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

SEAVER: Beats Carlton in classic.

Felix Milan lead off the ninth with a single to right, moved to second on a walk to John Milner and scored on Torre’s single to left.

You know about Seaver, the greatest player in franchise history and a Hall of Famer with 311 career victories, with 198 coming as a Met. He also pitched for Cincinnati (acquired in a 1977 trade from the Mets), the White Sox and Boston.

Hard to believe Tom Terrific is 70 years old.

Torre played three seasons for the Mets (1975-77) and become their manager in 1977. He played 18 years in the majors and finished with 2,324 hits and a .297 average.

Torre managed five seasons with the Mets (winning 286 games), three with Atlanta, six with the Cardinals, three with Los Angeles, and 12 with the Yankees, where his teams won 1,173 games, six pennants and four World Series titles. Those numbers with Yankees sent him into the Hall of Fame.

As for Kingman, the overall No. 1 pick with the Giants, played six years for the Mets, with whom he hit 154 of his 442 career homers. He also played for San Francisco, Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, California Angels and Yankees before retiring after the 1986 season.

While Seaver and Torre are in Cooperstown, it would have been interesting to see if Kingman would have made it had he hit 500 home runs.

BOX SCORE

ON DECK: Previewing Jacob deGrom‘s first start.

Feb 28

Today In Mets History: Dave Kingman Signed

On this day in Mets’ history in 1975, the contract of outfielder and first baseman Dave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants. The 6-foot-6 Kingman, nicknamed Kong for his prodigious strength and power, was to give the Mets the fearsome hitter they had never had this early in their existence.

“He was going to make us a winner,’’ said Joe, a life-long Mets’ fan. “He had such awesome power. We had never had a guy like that before.’’

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

During his 17-year career, Kingman played six seasons with the Mets, more than any other team. He gave the Mets the power they wanted with 154 home runs. However, the all-or-nothing Kingman also hit .219 with a .287 on-base percentage, and with only 389 RBI and just 211 walks in comparison to 672 strikeouts. He had more strikeouts than hits (509) with the Mets.

In addition to the San Francisco and the Mets, Kingman played for Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, the Angels and Yankees. Kingman had two stints with the Mets (1975-77 and 1981-83).

Kingman also struck out a lot in his interactions with fans and the media. Of all the things Kingman is known for, perhaps most disturbing was sending a live rat to Susan Fornoff, a female reporter covering the Athletics.

Kingman hit 30 or more homers seven times, including 48 in 1979 with the Cubs and 37 in 1982 with the Mets, when he lead the National League in homers.

Kingman also struck out 1,816 times – an average of 152 times a season – and in 14 years struck out at least 100 times, and eight times fanned at least 125 times. Only once, in 1985, did he draw as many as 60 walks.

History is filled with numerous all-or-nothing sluggers like Kingman, such as Adam Dunn, Greg Vaughn, Frank Howard, Rob Deer, Mark Reynolds and a case can also be made to lump former Met George Foster into that group.

Kingman’s 154 homers ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list, behind Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Mike Piazza and Howard Johnson.

Kingman finished with 442 career homers and speaking at the closing of Shea Stadium, said if he played longer: “I’m sure I could have hit 500 (home runs). That’s all right. I’m very happy with (my career). I enjoyed my time in the big leagues.’’

Prior to the steroid era, 500 homers used to be an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame, along with 300 pitching victories and 3,000 hits. Had Kingman played two more years and reached that milestone he would have been an interesting test case.

As a Hall of Fame voter, I wouldn’t give him my vote because his numbers other than homers were terribly weak and non-deserving.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s news and notes.

Jan 24

Missing Ernie Banks

This one hurts. Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,’’ passed away last night at 83.

Unquestionably, one of the highlights about covering baseball was meeting the game’s greats from when I first started following the sport. Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Al Kaline, Tom Seaver and, of course, Banks.

Mets’ fans, of course, should remember Banks from the 1969 season when he was one of the few likable members of the Cubs. Some might actually have felt sympathy for Banks as he missed the playoffs for yet, another year.

Banks was the longtime face and persona of the Cubs. He was a Wrigley Field fixture who was a pleasant and kind visitor to opposing dugouts. Players loved to shake his hand and listen to his stories.

And, Banks loved to hold court, whether for a group or an individual. If you had a question, or just wanted to say hello, he would greet you and make one feel welcomed.

We’re in an age where too many of today’s athletes prefer to distance themselves from the public that adores them. That was never Banks. People liked him because he genuinely liked people.

The baseball world is a little poorer today without him.

Nov 08

Maddon To Mets Had No Chance

MADDON: Wouldn't have become a Met.

MADDON: Wouldn’t have become a Met.

There are a lot of crazy things floating around this time of year. I heard this today and it made me laugh because there’s no chance it could have happened.

One report said the Mets could have gotten Joe Maddon as their manager after his decision to bolt the Tampa Bay Rays.

Maddon is a tremendous managerial talent, one of the best, and he would look great in the Mets dugout, but several variables combined to make that impossible.

First, they already have a manager in Terry Collins. Now, managers and coaches have been fired before while under contract, but the Mets hate the idea of paying a manager’s salary to two people at the same time.

More importantly, even had Maddon been available to them, as they wouldn’t have acted as quickly, or decisively, as the Cubs. Reportedly, Maddon was given a five-year, $25 million package, which would have been well out of their price range.

Maddon left the Rays because of their austerity program, evidenced by the departures of James Shields – who’ll likely leave Kansas City – and David Price. The Cubs’ payroll last year was $92 million, which isn’t in the stratosphere, but far more than the Rays’ $76 million.

The Cubs have shown a willingness to pursue free agents, something neither the Rays nor Mets are inclined to do.

The Mets have made steady progress over the past few years, and Collins deserves some credit. The expectations are high with the return of Matt Harvey, bounce-back seasons from David Wright and Curtis Granderson, and the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom.

Given that, do they really want to start over with a new regime?

Maddon as a Met is a fun idea, but there are a lot of fun ideas this time of year. But, this one had no chance.

Mar 17

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Mets 3

MEJIA: Where to put him?

The Mets were defeated by the Chicago Cubs by the score of 6-3 on Sunday on Las Vegas to earn a split of their two game series.

Highlights:

Jenrry Mejia struggled in his second Grapefruit League start and allowed three runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings of work. The young right-hander allowed four hits, including a home run, and walked two while striking out one.

Rafael Montero relieved Mejia and tossed 2.2 innings, also allowing two earned runs on four hits including a home run. He walked one and struck out one.

Carlos Torres had another great outing, allowing a solo homerun in three innings of work and striking out five.

Vying for a utility outfield spot, Andrew Brown hit a two-run homer, while Zach Lutz had two hits including a solo home run.

Travis d’Arnaud was hitless again in three plate appearances and his batting average now stands at .143 in 28 at-bats.

Up Next:

The Mets take on the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 PM in Jupiter, with John Lannan opposing Henderson Alvarez. The game will be broadcast on WOR 710 AM.