Jun 30

Hot Mets still need David Wright.

I am not saying this hasn’t been fun to watch, but Justin Verlander will start this afternoon for the Detroit Tigers against the Mets.

WRIGHT: Still need his stroke.

The Mets have won four straight games – scoring a franchise record 52 runs in the process – and six of their last seven to climb to two games over .500.

All teams go through stretches like this where they seemingly score at will. They’ve been scarce for the Mets, who should be enjoying it while they can.

However, this is not to say the Mets have turned some kind of offensive turner and evolve into another Lumber Company or Big Red Machine. Amazingly, some suggest David Wright’s return might gum up the works.

Hardly.

Wright started swinging the bat yesterday in a pool and could hit off a tee today. If all goes well he could play rehab games in a week and possibly return after the All-Star break.

Yes, the Mets are hot now and playing with a degree of chemistry, but they are only two games over .500 and five games behind in the wild card. After Detroit, they have the Yankees for three games and a long West Coast trip to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There’s a lot of season left, but an even smaller window where the Mets must prove they are players and worthy of not having the plug pulled from their season. A lot rides over the next 31 days, and it would be foolish to suggest the Mets would be better off without Wright in that span.

Jun 30

Today in Mets’ History: No-hit by Sandy Koufax.

On this date in Mets History, the Mets fell to one of the great ones in 1962 when Sandy Koufax threw the first of his four career no-hitters, winning 5-0, at Dodger Stadium.

KOUFAX: Said to have had the ``left arm of God.''

To illustrate the strange nature of the sport, the previous day the Mets drew 16 walks to win 10-4.

Koufax issued five walks and struck out 13 Mets, including Rod Kanehl, Cliff Cook, Elio Chacon, Chris Cannizzaro and Ray Daviault twice each.

BOX SCORE

In 20 career starts against the Mets, Koufax was 17-2 with a 1.44 ERA, including 14 complete games.

KOUFAX CAREER

Koufax had a dominating six-year run from 1961-66, when he was named the National League MVP in 1963, and won the Cy Young Award in 1963, 65 and 66. His career was cut short at the age of 30 with arthritis.

At 36 years and 20 days, he was the youngest entry into Baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Koufax played basketball at the University of Cincinnati, and played for the baseball team in 1954. He was scouted by the Dodgers, but the report was lost.

Koufax later tried out for the Giants and Pirates – neither of which offered a contract – and the Dodgers again. This time, he was signed for $6,000 with a $14,000 signing bonus.

A close friend of owner Fred Wilpon, Koufax is a frequent visitor to the Mets’ spring training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and tutors the pitchers most every spring.

After a long drought, Koufax is back in the Dodgers’ family. The Dodgers hired him to be a minor league pitching coach in 1979, but he resigned in 2000, the departure blamed on an uneasy relationship with then Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda.

Koufax severed ties with the Dodgers in 2003 when a New York Post article wrote of his sexual orientation and implied he was gay. Both the Post and Dodgers were owned by Rupert Murdoch at the time. Koufax resumed his relationship with the Dodgers when Frank McCourt purchased the team in 2004.

Jun 28

Are the Mets’ handling Niese’s heart condition properly?

Just when the Mets start feeling good about themselves again, something happens that makes you scratch your head and wonder: “Can’t these guys use common sense for once when it comes to injuries?’’

NIESE: Where's the common sense?

A franchise notorious for mishandling injuries, they are raising concerns for how they are dealing with Jon Niese’s rapid heart beat.

Niese had a rapid heart beat pitching Saturday in Texas, and amazingly was allowed to stay in to face one more batter.

Niese was examined by a Rangers doctor, who didn’t find anything imminently concerning, but the Mets are waiting today for him to get an intensive medical exam with the team in Detroit.

Not only was Niese permitted to fly to Detroit from Dallas, but also to drive two hours to his off-season home in Ohio.

We could go on for hours about how the Mets have mishandled injuries, but in dealing with a heart issue, doesn’t it make sense to address it immediately?

Obviously, the Mets don’t consider the exam by the Rangers’ team physician all-inclusive, otherwise they wouldn’t be having him tested again. The odds are likely in Niese’s favor, but why take the chance?

There’s nothing to be gained by waiting and everything to lose. The new regime was supposed to handle things differently when it came to injuries, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Questions were asked after David Wright was allowed to play a month with back soreness that turned out to be a stress fracture. And, Ike Davis was supposed to be back in two weeks after an ankle sprain, but he could be out the rest of the season.

Waiting makes no sense. None.

Jun 28

Today in Mets’ History: Casey says good-bye.

Did you know Casey Stengel was the first player to hit a World Series home run at Yankee Stadium?

And, on this date in 1975, he made his final appearance at Shea Stadium at an Old Timers Game. He died several months later.

STENGEL: An original.

 

 

Charles Dillon Stengel, nicknamed Casey, which came from the initials of his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., was not only the first manager of the Mets, but a baseball original, an icon.

Stengel was an average, but not spectacular player for the Brooklyn Dodgers – starting his career in 1912, the year the Titanic sunk – Pirates, Phillies, Giants and Boston Braves.

Of his career as a player, Stengel said: “I had many years that I was not so successful as a ballplayer, as it is a game of skill.’’

Stengel carved his niche as a Hall of Famer managing the Dodgers, Boston Braves, Yankees, and, of course, the Mets, where he became a folk hero.

Stengel won ten pennants and seven World Series titles for the Yankees, including a record five straight from 1949-53. He was fired after the 1960 World Series, in which the Yankees lost to Pittsburgh in seven games. Stengel insisted it was age related after turning 70, and said, “I’ll never make that mistake again.’’

Stengel was talked of retirement to manage the expansion Mets in 1962, and when he was hired, said: “It’s a great honor to be joining the Knickerbockers.’’

The Mets finished last in his four years with them.

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Jun 27

Today in Mets’ History: Anthony Young loses again.

YOUNG: The losing never seemed to stop.

Futility is often a word linked to the Mets, and who dealt with it more than Anthony Young who lost 27 consecutive decisions, including No. 24 on this date in 1993, losing 5-3 to St. Louis.

From April 14, 1992 while with the Mets, until May 1, 1994, then with the Chicago Cubs, Young lost 27 straight decisions.

That stretch including 13 quality starts, defined as giving up three runs in at least six innings.

Young finished retired in 1996, last pitching for Houston, with a 15-48 record, but a decent 3.89 ERA.

Do you remember Young and that stretch? If so, please post your thoughts.

YOUNG’S CAREER