Aug 22

How Mets Stack Up With All-Time Pennant Race Comebacks

History tells us it can be done, that as difficult as it seems, the Mets can climb out of what appears to an abyss of a hole and reach the playoffs. A lot must happen, but the Mets took a positive step over the weekend in fighting back to split their four games with the Giants.

The Giants are ahead for a potential wild card, as are the Dodgers, Marlins, Pirates and Cardinals. They begin a three-game series Tuesday in St. Louis, so after losing two of three to the Cardinals at Citi Field in late July they need to do at least the same to stay in contention.

SEAVER: Key In 1969 Pennant Race. (AP)

SEAVER: Key In 1969 Pennant Race. (AP)

The Mets trail Washington by 11.5 games, so that won’t happen even if they sweep the remaining six games with the Nationals. They are 4.5 games behind St. Louis for the second wild card, and three behind Miami (six games left) and 1.5 behind Pittsburgh (no games left).

Climbing back into the race will be harder without Steven Matz, who went on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder. In addition, Neil Walker will be placed on paternity leave and miss the St. Louis series. Replacing them on the 25-man roster are infielder T.J. Rivera and pitcher Robert Gsellman.

It will be difficult considering this team isn’t hitting, although getting back Yoenis Cespedes – who hit three homers over the weekend – should help.

Seven weeks remain, so picking up a game a week should be the objective. It can be done.

The following are ten of the greatest comebacks, including the greatest deficit these teams overcame and where they were in the standings on Aug. 22.

It should be noted none of these comebacks occurred in the wild-card era, and the team that came back to win only won the World Series five times.

Here’s who made history:

1969 New York Mets

Synopsis: On Aug. 13, the soon-to-be Amazin’ Mets trailed Chicago by 10 games in the NL East, and although it had been a fun season until then, nobody had any expectations of would happen. The Mets, anchored by superior pitching, went on a 38-11 run and won the NL East by eight games. Aug. 22 standings: Six games behind Chicago. How they finished: Went 100-62; swept Atlanta in the NLCS, and beat Baltimore, four-games-to-one in the World Series.

1978 New York Yankees

Synopsis: The Yankees were going nowhere, trailing Boston by 14 games as of July 20. The Yankees won 52 of their 73 games to force a one-game playoff at Fenway Park known as the Bucky Dent Game. Aug. 22 standings: They sliced the deficit to 7.5 games. How they finished: Went 100-63, beat Kansas City in the ALCS, and the Dodgers in the World Series.

1995 Seattle Mariners

Synopsis: People tend to forget this race. With Ken Griffey out for much of the second half, Edgar Martinez carried the Mariners. One August 2, Seattle was two games under .500 and trailed the Angels by 13 games. The Mariners caught fire and finished 35-10 while the Angels simultaneously collapsed and went 22-33. Aug. 22 standings: Trailed by 11.5 games. How they finished: The Mariners finished 79-66 (they didn’t play the normal 162 games because the season was shortened because of the 1994 strike). The Mariners won a one-game playoff with the Angels, beat the Yankees in the ALDS, but lost to Cleveland in six games in the ALCS.

1935 Chicago Cubs

Synopsis: Long before they were cursed, the Cubs were a National League power. On July 5, they trailed the Giants by 10.5 games, but won 62 of their last 84 – including a stretch of 21 straight in September – to win the race going away. Aug. 22 standings: Three games behind the Giants. How they finished: Went 100-54, but lost the World Series to Detroit.

1993 Atlanta Braves

Synopsis: The Braves trailed San Francisco by 10 games on July 23, but turned it around going 49-16 in their final 65 games to win the NL West by one game. Aug. 22 standings: Trailed Giants by 7.5 games. How they finished: A NL best 104-58, but lost the NLCS in six games to Philadelphia.

1964 St. Louis Cardinals

Synopsis: This race is remembered for the dramatic collapse of the Phillies, who held an 11-game lead on the Cardinals as late as Aug. 24. St. Louis, lead by Bob Gibson and Ken Boyer, went 28-11 down the stretch. Aug. 22 standings: The Cardinals were in fourth place, 10 games behind the Phillies, and also behind the Reds and Giants. How they finished: Went 93-69 and beat the Yankees in the World Series.

1914 Boston Braves

Synopsis: On July 6 the Braves were in last place, but would go 68-19 to pass the field and won the National League by 10 games. Aug. 22 standings: Their comeback was almost done by then, trailing the Giants by a mere half-game. How they finished: Went 94-59, then beat the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series.

1930 St. Louis Cardinals

Synopsis: The Cardinals are on the comeback list three times, this being the first time. They were 12 games out on Aug. 8 and only one game over .500. The Cardinals went 39-10 down the stretch to beat out the Cubs by two games. Aug. 22 standings: Trailed by eight games. How they finished: Went 92-62 only to lose the World Series in six games to the Philadelphia Athletics.

1942 St. Louis Cardinals

Synopsis: The Cardinals trailed by 10 games as late as Aug. 4, but went 44-9 down the stretch to overtake Brooklyn. Aug. 22 standings: Trailed Brooklyn by 7.5 games. How they finished: Went 106-48, then beat the Yankees in a five-game World Series.

1951 New York Giants

Synopsis: What, you thought I forgot about this one? I saved the most historic for last. On Aug. 11, the Giants trailed the Dodgers by 13 games. However, the Giants went 38-7 down the stretch and tied the Dodgers to force a three-game playoff series. Aug. 22 standings: Trailed by eight games. How they finished: At 96-58. Giants won a three-game playoff with the Dodgers, with New York winning the deciding third game on Bobby Thomson’s historic homer off Ralph Branca. The Giants would lose the World Series in six games to the Yankees.

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Aug 19

Sickels Weighs In On D’Arnaud

mejia d'arnaud

John Sickels on Minor League Ball featured Travis d’Arnaud as his Prospect of the Day and pointed out how steadily his throwing has improved as evidenced by increasing caught-stealing percentages since turning pro. So for those of you worried about those three stolen bases against him this weekend, don’t go jumping to any conclusions, and it was not like the pitcher’s didn’t play a part in it.

Here is what he had to say regarding D’Arnaud’s bat and projectability:

Offensively, his best tool is power. He was rather impatient early in his career but has made progress with the strike zone. He looked dramatically improved in that department for Vegas this spring and summer, when he wasn’t hurt anyway. His power usually comes when he pulls the ball, although he is more willing to take something the opposite way than he was earlier in his career.

I don’t see him as a .300 hitter at the major league level, but he should be good for a solid .250-.270 range, with an adequate OBP and better-than-average power. He could exceed those projections in his peak seasons.

Back in February, I wrote a Prospect Smackdown article comparing d’Arnaud with Mike Zunino of the Seattle Mariners, who is d’Arnaud’s primary competition as the top catching prospect in baseball. I concluded that I preferred Zunino very slightly because he was two years younger. Zunino has had his own set of problems this year. Catchers get hurt a lot and they often don’t have linear development curves.

Although I don’t see him in the Buster Posey or Joe Mauer class of superstar catcher, d’Arnaud produces quality play on both sides of the ball. If he can avoid getting hurt too often, d’Arnaud will be a fixture in the Mets lineup for years to come.

By the way, despite an report yesterday that the Mets will be keeping d’Arnaud once John Buck returns on Tuesday, the team says they haven’t made an official determination about that yet and it’s still up for debate.

Oct 16

The Mets’ GM process drags on ….

Fredi Gonzalez is the new manager of the Atlanta Braves, which didn’t take long. Eric Wedge is the manager of the Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, the Mets are still waiting to name their new general manager. They have a few more candidates to speak with, notably Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers once their playoff run is done. After watching them lose last night, you wonder how long that will be.

There will also be a second round of interviews with the finalists, so, we’re talking at least another 10 days. If they are lucky, it will be before the World Series. But, it could drag into November if the Rangers regroup and reach the World Series.

The high-profile managerial candidates could be gone by then, but that’s the risk the Wilpons took in deciding this route. And, it is a good route. The GM should name his own manager. That’s the prudent, sound way to go.

After years of the quick fix, I’m glad to see the Mets go through a complete interview process and get this done the right way as the general manager is far more important in the construction of a team than the manager.

Get it right, or move five years back.

Jun 23

Would you deal Pagan?

I’m throwing this out there for you to mull over, much like Omar Minaya will be asked to do in the upcoming weeks.

PAGAN: Teams like him.

Other teams aren’t stupid, they see what is going on with the Mets rotation and in their outfield. They see, like most of us here, that the rotation, although going well now is not a sure thing. We don’t know how long Hisanori Takahashi and RA Dickey will continue this run. They also have no interest in sending a veteran pitcher to the Mets for the likes of John Maine and Oliver Perez.

The Seattle Mariners are on record for saying they want major league ready hitters; players they can immediately plug into their lineup.

The Mets have precious few of those to offer, but there is one whose trade value is high. Don’t think about Carlos Beltran. With his injury history and salary, he’s not going anywhere.

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Sep 29

Memorable Sports Quotes ….



There have been few players that could spin a quote like Rickey Henderson. A lot of times Henderson would be asked a question and ten minutes later he would complete his answer. However, there are other times when he would just nail it.

Like this one.

HENDERSON: One of a kind.

HENDERSON: One of a kind.

“I’m a legend. People aren’t going to forget about me. I mean, when people forget about me, baseball is over. I rewrote the book.’’ – Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson on his favorite topic, which, of course, is Rickey Henderson.

Despite being one of the greatest players of his era, Henderson made the rounds, playing for nine franchises, including four different stints with the Oakland Athletics, and two with San Diego.

Oakland Athletics (1979–1984)
New York Yankees (1985–1989)
Oakland Athletics (1989–1993)
Toronto Blue Jays (1993)
Oakland Athletics (1994–1995)
San Diego Padres (1996–1997)
Anaheim Angels (1997)
Oakland Athletics (1998)
New York Mets (1999–2000)
Seattle Mariners (2000)
San Diego Padres (2001)
Boston Red Sox (2002)
Los Angeles Dodgers (2003)