May 16

Today in Mets History: Straw hits the first of many.

When he first broke into the big leagues, they used to say of Darryl Strawberry he had the swing of Ted Williams. However, he never had the plate discipline of Williams, and as great as his numbers were, there was always the belief he could do more.

Strawberry’s career high in homers was 39, accomplished twice. Perhaps the most memorable homer in his career was the 440-foot drive off the scoreboard clock in St. Louis in 1985.

STRAWBERRY: What a sweet swing.

 

That proved to be overstated, but Strawberry was one of those rare players who grabbed and held your attention whenever he came to the plate. How far would this one go? Would he be punched out?

On this date in 1983, Strawberry hit the first of 335 homers in a career marred by drug use and suspension. Strawberry averaged 34 homers and 102 per 162-game stretch.

In a career oddity, Strawberry played for all the teams with New York roots: the Mets, Dodgers, Giants and Yankees.

Strawberry played out the last years of his career with drug problems and will be remembered as a wasted talent. Had he stayed clean, there’s no telling what his numbers might have been.

CAREER NUMBERS

BOX SCORE

 

May 14

Today in Mets History: The Ryan Express nails 14 Reds.

RYAN: Seven no-hitters.

The Mets knew early there was something special about Nolan Ryan, he with the electric arm that threw thunderbolts that sizzled.

On this date in 1968, Ryan established a then club record by striking out 14 Cincinnati Reds. “I threw nothing but fastballs the last two innings,’’ said Ryan, then 21.

Ryan pitched in parts of five seasons with the Mets and compiled a non-descript 29-38 record with a respectable 3.43 ERA.

Ryan’s stay in New York was interrupted with stints in the National Guard, wildness, and blisters that required soaking his fingers in cups of pickle brine.

Above all Ryan never felt comfortable in New York, and the Mets, weighing all this and in need of a third baseman, dealt him to the Angels prior to the 1972 season.

The Mets were to receive All-Star shortstop Jim Fregosi, who was at the end of his career and would be shifting to third base. The trade sounded good in theory at the time, but a 27-year Hall of Fame career said the Mets clearly lost this deal.

However, the Angels let him get away, too, to Houston and then the Texas Rangers. When it was all over, Ryan had thrown seven no-hitters.

CAREER STATS

 

May 12

Those pesky trade rumors and Mets’ notes.

You’ll be hearing a lot of trade rumors from now until the July 31 deadline. Some will be true, some not, but most entertaining.

RODRIGUEZ: Scouting reports not good.

This isn’t all that hard to figure out. If a player gets hurt or goes into a deep slump, figure his team might make inquiries. In fact, most teams are making calls all the time.

Every team’s front office goes over players on other teams with its scouts on a continuous basis. This is also when players are routinely put through waivers and then pulled back as to ascertain interest. This is when players clear waivers, explaining how those post-July 31 deals are made.

Believe me, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez and just about everybody on the Mets’ roster are put out there to give Sandy Alderson an idea of who is interested and the player’s worth.

Alderson doesn’t have to play phone tag with all the other GM’s to gauge interest in his players.

Speaking of Rodriguez, reportedly a scout told ESPN his velocity is down and the bite is off his breaking ball. No way the Mets let him finish 55 games so that option kicks in. And, no way a team wants to trade for that contract.

Expect Rodriguez to finish this season with the Mets, take his buyout and attempt to hook on elsewhere in the offseason.

Meanwhile, Fernando Martinez will meet up with the team in Denver this afternoon in preparation for being recalled if Ike Davis is placed on the disabled list.

Davis returned to New York yesterday to have his left calf and ankle examined following a collision with David Wright the previous night. Davis reported his calf is fine but the ankle is sore.

That being said, considering the Mets’ history with injuries, who doesn’t expect Davis to be placed on the DL?

In the interim, Daniel Murphy will play first with Justin Turner playing second.

Word is the weather is horrible in Denver and there’s no guarantee they’ll play this afternoon.  Jonathan Niese will get the start if they do.

 

May 12

Mets History Today: Sweeping the Braves behind Hobie and Gil

It was one of the few times when the Mets had their way with the Braves. On this date in 1962 in the Polo Grounds, the Mets got ninth-inning homers from Hobie Landrith and Gil Hodges for their first-ever doubleheader sweep of the Braves.

Landrith’s homer won the first game, 3-2, and Hodges’ homer won the nightcap, 8-7.

LANDRITH: A shining moment.

Landrith hit a two-run pinch homer on the first pitch, but it was almost voided with runner Rod Kanehl nearly missed touching third base.

Landrith was a journeyman reserve catcher who played for Cincinnati, the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Mets, Orioles and Senators. However, he’ll always be a trivia question answer to Mets fans for being the first pick of the team in the 1961 expansion draft.

It was after Landrith’s selection that then manager Casey Stengel said, “You gotta have a catcher or you’re going to have a lot of passed balls.’’

Landrith earned $75,000 that year. He returned his initial contract to team president George Weiss, saying it was a $3,000 paycut. Weiss sent that same contract back to Landrith three times before the catcher releneted.

Landrith was the Mets’ Opening Day catcher in 1962, but went 0-for-4, made an error and had the Cardinals steal three bases on him. He was replaced after that game by Joe Ginsberg.

Hodges, of course, was a New York legend, first as a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and then as manager of the 1969 Mets.

Hodges had his No. 14 retired by the Mets, and to this day it is a mystery to me why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame.

GAME ONE BOX

GAME TWO BOX

 

May 10

Interesting talk, but Bay is staying.

I had to chuckle this afternoon when I tuned into the talk show and heard the announcer say it was time to trade Jason Bay, that a change of scenery would do him good.

BAY: At intro press conference. In happier times.

How could it not?

 

Citi Field might be too expansive for Bay, and sure there’s the New York pressure, and playing somewhere else just might turn around his career. But, it is wishful thinking.

Bay isn’t going anywhere, at least not for a few years, anyway.

Only somebody with deep pocket would be willing to take the balance of Bay’s $66 million contract off the Mets’ hands, but nobody wants to do the Wilpons any favors.

The Red Sox backed off their initial offer to back because of concerns over his knees and shoulder, and whether they would hold up over the course of the contract.

So far, those haven’t been an issue like Bay’s concussion and oblique, but they are still out there. What is on everybody’s radar is Bay’s monstrous contract, a full no-trade clause, and lack of production, notably a dramatic drop in power.

Sure, Bay might benefit from going elsewhere, and no doubt the Mets would like to get out from under his contract, but he’s not going anywhere.

Just wishful thinking.