Sep 28

This Day in Baseball History ….

Ted Williams says good-bye.

Ted Williams says good-bye.

In 1960, in his final major league plate appearance, Ted Williams homers off Baltimore’s Jack Fisher at Fenway Park, with a 450-foot drive over the Red Sox bullpen.

 

It was Williams’ 521st homer, placing him third on the all-time list at the time.

Williams does not take a curtain call, but after taking his position in left field, he is replaced by Carroll Hardy and given a standing ovation as he returns to the dugout.

Williams averaged .344 with 37 homers and 130 RBI a season during his career. Had he not spend five years serving in the military during World War II and the Korean War, it is staggering to think what his career numbers would have been.

Sep 26

This Day in Baseball History ….

Pennant Fever

Pennant Fever

The 1967 American League pennant race was arguably the most gripping in history with Boston, Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit all in contention in the final week. For much of the season, the Angels were in it, and were the first to fade away. Next to go were the White Sox, who had a domineering staff but couldn’t score and runs.

On this day, Carl Yastrzemski hits his 43rd homer, but the Red Sox lose to Cleveland. Harmon Killebrew homers twice as Minnesota beats the Angels. Detroit’s Mickey Lolich threw a 1-0 shutout at the Yankees.

The Impossible Dream

The Impossible Dream


At the end of the day, Minnesota (91-68) led idle Chicago (89-68) and Boston (90-69) by a game and the Tigers (89-69) by 1.5 games.

The Red Sox beat the Twins on the season’s final day, but had to wait around for Detroit to lose to the Angels to clinch.

I followed that race with a transistor radio late at night and pulled for the Red Sox as I grew to like them because Tony Conigliaro was one of my favorite players growing up.

Sep 09

Maine has test tomorrow.

Of all the injured Mets who had a chance of returning this season, seeing John Maine again was easily the most important.

Billy Wagner returned, showed he was healthy and sent the Red Sox. We are finally seeing Carlos Beltran, although he might still be gimpy. Mets doctors say Johan Santana and Oliver Perez should make successful recoveries from surgery and be ready for spring training.

MAINE: As fragile as his bobblehead doll.

MAINE: As fragile as his bobblehead doll.


Then again, that’s what they said about Maine.

Maine, on the disabled list since June 7 with a pinched nerve in his throwing shoulder, will throw a simulated game tomorrow, and barring any complications, start the second game of Sunday’s double-header at Philadelphia.

“It feels good,’’ Maine told reporters yesterday. “Strength-wise, it’s not quite 100 percent. But as far as the pain, it’s just not there. I think with a good off-season, I’ll be able to put it behind me. It should go away and should be fine.’’

The operative word being off-season. If Maine somehow didn’t pitch again this year, the Mets would have nothing to evaluate and might opt to non-tender him a contract. The risk being somebody else would take a chance on him and he’d bounce back.

Personally, I think they’ll tender the contract anyway because the money is rather small and would be for one year, and because the Mets don’t have that many minor league options, and they are unlikely to splurge on the free-agent and trade markets. The inclination wildly spend is not there. Look on whom they passed last winter (Derek Lowe and Randy Wolf).

However, should Maine make it out of Sunday’s 60-pitch audition without difficulty, he should get three more starts before the end of the season. Four starts is roughly a short spring training, but it this case it might be enough for the Mets to start formulating some plans.

Maine has as much to gain as the Mets by pitching in September, because if he proves he’s healthy, and the Mets inexplicably don’t tender a contract, he would enter the free-agent market.

If the Mets are able to pencil in Maine for one rotation spot, it would eliminate one of the many headaches the Mets will have to contend with this winter.

Although there has been some discussion about putting Maine in the bullpen, I don’t see the Mets using this window for that kind of experiment.

Aug 25

Wagner deal complete ….

Billy Wagner gave in on one of his two demands and accepted a deal this afternoon to the Boston Red Sox for two lower-tier minor league players to be named later. In addition, the Mets save $3.2 million, which includes a $1 million buyout for next season.

WAGNER: In tears after learning he'd need surgery.

WAGNER: In tears after learning he'd need surgery.

Wagner was claimed off waivers last week by the Red Sox, but wanted assurances Boston would not pick up his $8 million option for 2010 – so he could test the free agent market to be a closer elsewhere – or offer him salary arbitration. With arbitration, the signing team would be required to offer a compensation draft pick and Wagner thought that would hurt his chances in the market.

Wagner has 385 career saves and it is his goal to reach 400.

The Red Sox didn’t plan on picking up the option, but with reports Jonathan Papelbon might be available in a trade after this season, they wanted to hedge their bets. Papelbon has been vocal in saying he doesn’t believe the Red Sox needed Wagner, but he has idiot tendencies.

The Red Sox do need a set-up guy for the remainder of this season, and if they didn’t claim him, the Yankees most definitely would have.

While the Mets aren’t getting blue chippers, something is better than nothing for a player they had no interest in bringing back. Wagner, who has spent the last 11 months recovering from Tommy John surgery, has pitched two quality innings since his return with four strikeouts and a fastball topping out at 96 mph.

In explaining the trade, GM Omar Minaya said: “Billy, basically, had an opportunity to pitch in the pennant race and we were able to get two prospects for him, and we felt it was the right thing to do.”

Wagner performed for the Mets; he was a positive signing for Minaya. However, he was a squeaky wheel which didn’t always endear him to his teammates. Notably, he called out the veteran position players – of which Carlos Delgado was one – for not talking to the media.

They were offended, but Wagner was right. Wagner was also correct in his pointed criticism of Oliver Perez not concentrating and living up to his potential.

Personally, I always liked Wagner. He was stand-up whenever he blew a save and never failed to answer the tough questions.

Aug 21

Wagner claimed

Major League sources have confirmed lefty reliever Billy Wagner has been claimed on waivers and the Mets have three days to make a deal. If a trade is executed, the claiming team would assume the remaining $2.7 million on this year’s contract and an $8 million club option for 2010 (with a $1 million buyout).

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?

WAGNER: Could he be Boston bound?


The Boston Globe is reporting the Red Sox are the team that put in a claim. If true, Wagner, who has spent most of his third season of a four-year, $43-million contract recovering from Tommy John surgery, would serve as a set-up reliever to Jonathan Papelbon.

Wagner’s contract includes a full no-trade clause which he said he would waive to go to a contender. Should the Mets pull him off waivers as they did Gary Sheffield, they will be unable to trade him for the rest of the season.

Wagner struck out two in a perfect inning in his first appearance of the season Thursday.

“I thought he was very good, outstanding life, even in that short appearance,” Jerry Manuel said of Wagner’s fastball, which topped out at 96 mph.

Wagner is a six-time All-Star with 385 saves and a 2.40 ERA on his resume.

There are plenty of team in need of relief help, including Tampa Bay, Florida, Anaheim, Detroit and the Chicago Cubs.