Dec 01

On this Date ….

Looking Back ....

Looking Back ....

…. In 1998, the Mets dealt catcher Todd Hundley and minor league pitcher Arnold Gooch to the Dodgers for catcher Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. The Mets then swap Johnson to the Orioles for reliever Armando Benitez.

Benitez had a checkered career with the Mets, saving 158 games in parts of five seasons. Of course, what most remember about him was the games he didn’t save, particularly against the Braves. Benitez’s history was to unravel if something went wrong. A bloop or bad call could turn into a blown save, and it would start a string of three or four bad outings.

The Mets eventually traded him to the Yankees. Benitez would sign with the Giants and his last game was in 2008.

I covered Benitez with the Orioles and Yankees. I’ll always remember him spitting the bit in the 1997 ALCS, playing a significant part in at least three of the Orioles’ losses. The one moment that crystalizes in my memory is, when after giving up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back. Then he stood off the mound and gestured the Yankees to come get him.

They did.

ON DECK: What to do about Carlos Delgado later this morning.

Oct 12

Something with your morning coffee ….

This Day in Baseball History

This Day in Baseball History

For those thinking the Mets had plummeted back to Earth after their Game 1 loss to Baltimore in the 1969 World Series, those thoughts were dashed on this day in Game 2.

Jerry Koosman and Ron Taylor combined on a two-hitter‚ and Al Weis drove in the game-winner with a ninth-inning single off Dave McNally to give the Mets a 2-1 victory over the Orioles and even the World Series at a game apiece.

The Mets would run the table on the Orioles, winning three straight at Shea Stadium to win the Series. Koosman was also the winning pitcher in Game 5.

Does anybody remember that game or have anything they’d like to share about the 1969 Mets?

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They Said It

They Said It

After entering the postseason on an 0-for-27 playoff slide with runners in scoring position dating back to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez is on the October tear he always was supposed to be on with game-tying homers in both Game 2 and 3 in the ALDS with Minnesota.

Said Rodriguez: “I knew that I couldn’t change all the 0-for-4s, 0-for-5s and all the guys I left on base. I’m content right now, both on and off the field.”

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BY THE NUMBERS

Rodriguez’s numbers in three-game sweep of the Twins in the ALDS: Five-for-11, two homers and six RBI.

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ON TAP FOR TODAY

Game 4 of the Rockies-Phillies NLDS is for tonight at 6 p.m.

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.”

Oct 16

Wright willing to help

Wright: Only an idiot would think of trading him.

Wright: Only an idiot would think of trading him.

David Wright said he wouldn’t lobby the Mets’ front office as to what free agents they pursue, but is willing to help out should he be asked.

“I stay out of the whole front-office decision making, who they go after, who they are trading for,” Wright said. “But if they ever came to me and asked me to speak to a free agent and show him around New York, I live there now, so I would be more than happy to do that.”

There are those who have foolishly suggested the Mets trade Wright, but he’s not going anywhere. He remains the face of the franchise.

I covered the Orioles for a long time and told him he reminds me of Cal Ripken in how the club promotes him. He said he was flattered, and like Ripken, wants to play his entire career with the Mets.

Quite simply, you don’t trade players like Wright.