Oct 27

Today in Mets History: Pop the corks.

I was driving this morning when I heard Bob Murphy’s call: “He struck him out. He struck him out. The Mets win the World Series.”

It was a chilly Monday night. The Giants were at home to the Redskins, but the real show in town was Game 7 of the 1986 World Series. Game 7′s are usually always a gem, and this was no different, as for the second straight game the Mets rallied to beat the Red Sox.

Everybody remembers Game 6 for the Bill Buckner play, and the conventional wisdom was the Boston would be devastated and fold like a cheap tent. Not so.

A rainout Sunday gave the Red Sox another day to get over the lost and give Bruce Hurst another day of rest. What people forget was the Red Sox taking an early 3-0 lead on Rich Gedman’s homer.

But, the Mets scored three in the sixth and seventh, and two more in the eighth to put away Boston, 8-5.

It was after this game when The New York Times’ George Vecsey became the first to mention a Babe Ruth curse. He didn’t phrase it, “the curse of the Bambino,” but he was the first to associate a curse with the Red Sox.

This was a Mets’ team full of brass and it was supposed to win a string of World Series, but it never happened. Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry had drug problems, Mike Scioscia’s homer off Gooden in the 1988 NLCS derailed the Mets that season, Len Dykstra was traded and the team started to unravel.

What was going to be a dynasty never happened and the Mets wouldn’t reach the World Series until 2000 when they were beaten in five games by the Yankees.

Even so, Murphy’s call was the soundtrack for Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett for the game’s final out. Orosco throwing his glove in the air and falling to his knees as he was mobbed by his teammates has been one of baseball’s most enduring images since.

There was no middle-of-the-road with the 86 Mets. You either loved them or hated them. That was the year I moved to New York from Ohio and started following the Mets. They were a cocky bunch which I didn’t like at first, but they grew on me. I loved how Keith Hernandez and Lenny Dykstra played, and grew to admire Gooden’s dominance. Strawberry, I remember, was a player you couldn’t take your eyes off when he came to the plate. After hitting the scoreboard clock in St. Louis, with every at-bat you wondered how far he’d hit the ball.

Some would say this was the Mets’ last great moment, but I dispute that with their pennant run in 2000 and Mike Piazza’s homer after 9-11. The Piazza homer, Endy Chavez’s catch and Carlos Beltran taking a called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS all provided enduring images.

But, 1986 was the zenith for the Mets, and it is true that they haven’t been the same way since. Makes you wonder if the Buckner play started another curse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apr 26

April 26.10: Not your old Mike Pelfrey.

As the pitches mounted, and they did rather quickly last night, it was tempting to think, “well, he’s back to being the old Mike Pelfrey.”

The pitches added up to base runners – ten in all – but, other than the angst, not much else. Something strange happened: Pelfrey got a pop up to end one inning; double plays to end two more; and a couple of strikeouts also bailed him.

While one never wants your pitcher to get in trouble, the telling sign is the ability to escape and that’s what Pelfrey did last night. He didn’t just minimize damage, he avoided it all together. That’s something he didn’t do last season, or in spring training of this year for that matter.

Pelfrey is getting outs on his splitter, a secondary pitch he has been working on. There will be times this year when the pitch might flatten, but for now it is working and it is exciting to see his development.

Pelfrey has been on hot streaks before, but this one has a different feel. This one comes with the sense of maturity and progression to the next step. This one has the sense of his development into a pitcher, leaving the thrower behind.

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The Mets did a solid yesterday when they invited fans to move into whatever seats they wished. OK, you got to stay in them for a few innings, but still the gesture was nice. Also, the Mets announced anybody with yesterday’s game can exchange them for complimentary tickets to a game during the San Diego and Detroit series in June.

For more information, call 718.507.TIXX

Lousy weather all day today in Queens, but tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers is still on.

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Before we get all get carried away with Ike Davis, just think back to last night and how Tommy Hanson’s fall-off-the-table made him look foolish. Other pitchers will take notice and until Davis proves he can consistently hit the breaking ball, that’s all he’ll face.

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Jan 23

Jan. 23.10: Liking Garko over Tatis at first.

GARKO: Would help at first.

GARKO: Would help at first.

While the Mets are waiting to improve their pitching, it wouldn’t hurt to take a diversion and continue to add to their bench. There’s still a matter of the Daniel Murphy platoon at first base.

With Carlos Delgado not showing in winter ball he’s capable of the defensive end of it, why not go with Ryan Garko at first over Fernando Tatis?

Garko hit a combined .268 with 13 homers and 51 RBI last season for Cleveland and San Francisco. Tatis, who has been serviceable the last two seasons with the Mets, doesn’t have that power. Instead, he’ll be remembered for grounding into 13 double plays last year.

Garko won’t come at a high price, has some pop and plays first base by trade. I’d go with him over Tatis.