Jul 20

Today in Mets’ History: Straw torches Braves; Reyes supposedly off the market.

Darryl Strawberry had a lot of monster games with the Mets, including on this date in 1985 when he homered twice – including a slam – to drive in a career-high seven runs in a 16-4 rout of the Atlanta Braves.

Strawberry compiled some impressive numbers during his career against the Braves, batting .264, but with 28 homers and 79 RBI.

STRAWBERRY CAREER

The Mets never would have considered dealing Strawberry in his prime, but are faced with the prospect of trading another franchise player in Jose Reyes. Several media outlets, including ESPN today, said Reyes won’t be traded, but the team is hot to trade Carlos Beltran.

However, regardless of what ESPN says, don’t buy it hook-line-and-sinker until the deadlines passes and Reyes is signed to an extension. ESPN is notorious for throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sticks,

Boston’s ESPN outlet said the Mets are enamored with outfielders Josh Reddick and Ryan Kalish, SS Jose Iglesias, pitchers Anthony Ranaudo and Felix Doubront, and third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

If the Mets could get two of those players for Beltran, they’ll be lucky. It would take more than that for Reyes.

 


 

Jul 14

Today in Mets’ History: Bobby V. wins 1,000th game as manager.

I never covered him full time, but always recognized Bobby Valentine held a special place with Mets’ fans.

VALENTINE: A fixture in Mets lore.

Maybe it had nothing to do with the fake moustache, but perhaps that act is what endeared him to the Shea partisans. It was spontaneous, funny and above all, human. We all know ejected managers hide in the runway or somehow send messages to the dugout. Valentine was just brash in his approach.

Valentine guided the Mets to the playoffs and World Series in 2000, but his teams ran out of steam and his feud with then general manager Steve Phillips became draining.

On this date in 1971, Valentine registered his 1,000th career victory when Glendon Rusch and Armando Benitez combined to throw a one-hit shutout of the Red Sox, 2-0.

VALENTINE’s CAREER

Valentine managed Texas and the Mets, as well as two stints in Japan. He currently works for ESPN, but is constantly being mentioned when managerial openings occur.

 

Jul 11

Today in Mets’ History: Seaver gets save in 1967 game.

Tom Seaver starred on this date in 1967 at the All-Star Game in Anaheim when All-Star Games actually meant something and were more than an encore for ESPN’s Home Run Derby.

SEAVER: Gets save in 67 game.

 

As a rookie, Seaver threw a hitless 15th inning to earn the save in the National League’s 2-1 victory. Seaver’s Hall of Fame career included 12 All-Star selections.

An oddity about this game was in that all the runs came on solo homers from third basemen: Philadelphia’s Richie Allen, Baltimore’s Brooks Robinson and Cincinnati’s Tony Perez.

This was a time when the starting pitchers worked at their three innings and there were pitchers available for extra innings. Unlike the disaster game in Milwaukee several years back when Commissioner Bud Selig called it a tie because the teams ran out of pitchers.

In this game, Seaver’s one inning was the shortest stint of the night as all the other pitchers worked at least two innings, with five pitching at least three innings, and Catfish Hunter throwing five as he took the loss. Don Drysdale was the winning pitcher.

BOX SCORE

 

UP NEXT: How spring training issues have been addressed in the first half.


 

May 02

Mets win, NY wins, US wins.

I woke up around 6 , turned on the TV and he was still dead.

The flag endures.

Osama bin Laden is dead, and it will be one of those moments that  you’ll always remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news. For those who learned on ESPN last night, it was reminiscent of hearing John Lennon was murdered while watching Monday Football.

I was home channel surfing when I heard. I called a few friends and became mesmerized by the images on the screen. Just like when watching the Japan earthquake, Katrina, Columbine, and, of course, September 11. There is no script to history. It just relentless attacks us and grabs us by the scruff of the neck and shakes. It shook me to about 4 in the morning.

Flipping back to the Mets game, where it was tied in the ninth, 1-1 — 9-1-1. You don’t find irony or symbolism like that too often. It was  inspiring to hear the crowd spontaneously chanting, U-S-A, U-S-A. Sometimes the chant sounds forced and cliche. Not last night.

“I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right,” said David Wright when asked about the chanting.

Yes, the Mets won, but the crowd reaction is what we’ll remember and take with us, much as we do the images of that day.

I was covering the Yankees at the time and took the weekend off to move to New York from Maryland. I was on the Jersey Turnpike just north of the Philadelphia exit when the planes hit the towers. Because all the bridges were closed what was normally a five-hour trip became 11. My movers were volunteer firefighters. My furniture didn’t arrive for several more days.

That week was spent covering workouts at Yankee Stadium and watching the Shea Stadium parking lot used for a staging ground for the EMS workers. It was inspiring to see Bobby Valentine and his Mets, in uniform, help the workers load trucks.

And, when the games finally resumed, we witnessed one of the most memorable home runs in New York history, Mike Piazza’s drive that beat the Braves. The Mets and Braves were mortal enemies at the time, and their display of unity that night was another memory. It was another example of how sports can be unifying.

So much has happened in the ten years since, and we’ve changed personally and as a nation in so many ways, and for a baseball writer it goes well beyond the joys of traveling, from the pat downs to the long lines to the general uneasiness of strangers.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, and the fallout hits here, too.

What small town doesn’t have a 9-1-1 Memorial? Who among us doesn’t know someone lost in the attacks and the subsequent military actions in the Middle East? The failing economy is a byproduct of that day, and with it the foreclosure signs, layoffs and stress of trying to make ends meet. Who among us doesn’t cringe when filling up our tanks and wonder when things will ever get back to normal.

Or, is this normal?

I hope you’ll share with us what you were doing that day.

Sep 12

New Chat Room; time for second guessing.

What was written then is coming to pass, the back end of Johan Santana’s contract appears to be choking the Mets. It was widely written, by me and others, that six years is too long a deal for a pitcher who had already accumulated a lot of innings.

Santana’s velocity has been in decline, and now he faces shoulder surgery that ESPN is reporting could keep him out for up to two years. This is a tough surgery with a long and arduous rehab program. It won’t be easy for Santana and there are no guarantees on the back end.

That said, the Mets will likely come to regret the $77 million balance on the contract, but they knew going in that was a strong possibility for the final two years, OK, now it could be three.

The Mets overpaid because both the Red Sox and Yankees backed out, but the circumstances of the times must be realized. The Mets, having lost in 2006 and collapsed in 2007, were in dire need of starting pitching.

The Mets needed an ace and Santana came back to them, and Santana has pitched like the ace he was portrayed to be.

Where the Mets failed or miscalculated is not in signing Santana, but not giving him the adequate run support. Had Santana pitched for the Yankees instead of the Mets, with their superior run support and Mariano Rivera, he might have won a Cy Young or won 20 games.

Santana has more than carried his share of the load since coming here. Injuries are always a risk, but he has more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

To access the New Chat Room, click on to the Chat Room icon to the left. Enjoy Jon Niese as you channel surf to the NFL games.