Sep 23

This Day in Baseball History ….

Looking back

Looking back

Do you remember Armando Benitez?

Of course you do. How could anybody forget the pitcher with the million dollar arm and ten cent heart and brain? A nickel for both.

On this day in 2001, Benitez, pitching for the Mets, gave up three runs to the Braves in the ninth inning, with two coming of Brian Jordan homer. Jordan would later homer in the 11th inning as Atlanta won, 5-4.

I had pleasure of covering Benitez twice, first with the Orioles and then with the Yankees.

BENITEZ: Heat, but no fire.

BENITEZ: Heat, but no fire.

Was talking to one of the Oriole catchers one day about Benitez, and he told me he didn’t think he’d ever become a great closer because, “he doesn’t really want the ball.” When things were well, Benitez was dominant, but he would unravel at the slightest thing, whether it be bloop hit, an error or not getting an ump’s call.

Sure enough, once Benitez would blow a save, two or three more would follow.

My favorite Benitez story isn’t from 1998 when he plunked Tino Martinez after giving up a homer to incite a brawl, but several years earlier and it wasn’t even game related.

The Orioles were in Milwaukee at the end of the season and this was the rookie hazing day when the veterans would take their clothes and make them wear things from consignment and thrift shops. Could be women’s clothes. Could be anything.

It is supposed to be a bonding gesture, kind of like in a fraternity.

Benitez was having none if it and held up the Orioles team bus for 45 minutes. It got to where Rafael Palmeiro had to get off the bus and persuade him to get with the program. Benitez wouldn’t and ended up wearing his uniform pants with his dress shirt.

The next day, we were talking about it with manager Ray Miller, who gave us this song-and-dance about Benitez being so sensitive because he was a Latin player. Miller then asked me what I would have done. I told him, “Benitez has a credit card and I would have left without him and told him to make his own way to the next city.”

Jul 02

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #78; not excited.

OK … the Mets won yesterday at Milwaukee. So what? I’m not going to get excited about one win after a month of playing terribly.

Tim Redding (1-3, 6.35 ERA) has given up five homers in the last 17 2/3 innings pitched.

Luis Castillo, 2B
Alex Cora, SS
Dave Wright, 3B
Gary Sheffield, RF
Fernando Tatis, LF
Ryan Church, CF
Nick Evans, 1B
Omir Santos, C
Tim Redding, RP

Jun 29

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #75; it’s not getting any easier.



After being swept by the Yankees the Mets are in Milwaukee tonight to begin a series against the Brewers. It won’t get any easier.

And, it is going to stay rough for a long time because Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado aren’t back any time soon, and Carlos Beltran could be out a little longer. They simply don’t have any chips to deal.

It’s up to the people here now, and they aren’t getting it done.

Apr 24

Let’s not get carried away ….

The assumption is Johan Santana will pitch well and the Mets should beat the Washington Nationals tonight. That’s always the assumption when the best pitcher in the major leagues faces its worst team.

The Mets come limping back into town losers of four straight games, the last three in St. Louis. The common denominator in the four games was the inability to hit with runners in scoring position and bad starting pitching. The only decent start came last Sunday against Milwaukee by Nelson Figueroa and he’s no longer in the organization.

As a stopper, Santana is expected to pitch well, but let’s not assume all is well with your heroes even should he throw a shutout.

Even should they sweep the Nationals, it won’t mean all is well. They need to go through the rotation two, three times getting solid starts to allay those concerns.

What we have with the 6-9 Mets is a developing trend. It obviously can’t continue at this rate, but even so, that’s still too small a sample to assume they should write off the season.

Apr 18

METS CHAT ROOM: Game #11; Santana goes.



We begin with the news Mike Pelfrey will miss his start tomorrow and Luis Castillo will bat second. That’s because Daniel Murphy will sit in favor of Gary Sheffield in left. Murphy was going to get a rest anyway, so this isn’t about rewarding Castillo for last night.

Johan Santana on the mound for the boys. It’s nice to have your ace going. I was thinking about that last night after Ryan Braun homered to give Milwaukee a brief lead. They lose this, and with Figueroa likely going Sunday, then Santana would be their only chance to win.