Nov 12

Mets Rookie Of The Year Winners: Seaver, Matlack, Strawberry And Gooden

SEAVER: When it all started (TOPPS)

In explaining part of the Mets’ problems over the years, consider they haven’t produced a Rookie of the Year in nearly three decades, which is a substantial drought.

(Sorry, but I can’t resist: Jason Bay won it while with Pittsburgh in 2004.)

The Mets have produced four Rookies of the Year: Dwight Gooden (1984), Darryl Strawberry (1983), Jon Matlack (1972) and Tom Seaver (1967).

All four played in a World Series for the Mets.

Seaver, of course, is the Crown Jewel of Mets rookies. After winning in 1967, Seaver went on to be a 12-time All-Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner.

Seaver is the lone Mets’ Hall of Famer and the only player to have his number retired by the team. In the karma that can only be the Mets, Seaver’s no-hitter and 300th career victory were achieved with other teams, Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox.

Seaver remains an ambassador to the Mets and the most beloved player.

Seaver averaged 16 victories a season from 1967-1986. He ended his career with the Red Sox, but fate wasn’t too cruel to have him pitch against the Mets in the 1986 World Series.

Seaver won at least 20 games five times, three times led the National League in ERA, and finished his career at 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA.

Matlack was an underrated lefty, perhaps best known as the answer to the trivia question: Which pitcher gave up Roberto Clemente’s 3000th and final hit?

Matlack is one of those players who didn’t live up to the expectations, finishing his career at 125-126, but with a 3.18 ERA that indicates a general lack of support. He never became “the next Jerry Koosman.’’

Strawberry and Gooden personified the Mets in the 1980’s, a widely talented team that, like the two players, underperformed. Strawberry and Gooden were to dominate for years, win multiple World Series and individual awards and ride off into the Hall of Fame together.

Gooden finished at 194-11 and a 3.51 ERA, but after the 1986 World Series title, he spun out of control and tested positive for cocaine. He later developed shoulder problems, which some attribute to a heavy workload early in his career.

Labeled, “the next Ted Williams,’’ early in his career, Strawberry was one of the few players you had to stop and watch when he came to the plate. An eight-time All-Star, Strawberry was a lifetime .259 hitter with 335 homers and 1,000 RBI.

In addition to playing with the Mets and Yankees, Strawberry also played with the Dodgers and Giants, the other two teams with New York roots.

Sep 29

Beautiful history … and Reyes.

It was stunning to see the Red Sox and Braves collapse over the past month, then finally crumble last night. We witnessed two of the great finishes in history, and the nature of it reminded us again of baseball’s magical power and hold on us.

It told us again a game and season are never over until the mathematics dictate it to be true. The winters will be long in Boston – which they are used to by now – and in Atlanta. Both teams seemed givens a month ago, only to turn around and give it away.

Maybe, there will be a new curse in Boston.

A pennant race is the best baseball has to offer, and heading into September there seemed no suspense, not much to make us curious. But, as it has for generations, the sport inexplicably grabbed us by the scruff of the neck and shook us awake.

It made us scramble in the morning to find the scores, to force us to take a peak at the television in bars and restaurants, to ask a stranger if he knew what happened. I was in a restaurant last night that was pro-Boston. It was raucous early in the evening, but a deathly Buckner-like quiet at closing time.

As ugly as it was in Boston and Atlanta, it was beautiful to see in St. Petersburg and St. Louis, and magical throughout the rest of the country. It was truly something historic and made us realize nothing should be taken for granted.

As I thought about the grand scale, I recalled  of how earlier in the day Jose Reyes took his place in baseball history for granted. He got his hit, a bunt hit, then decided to pack it in. He figured the odds were in his favor, Ryan Braun wouldn’t catch him and he’d have is own secure spot in history.

He figured right, but didn’t count on how he’d be remembered. For those of us who follow the Mets, he is the franchise’s first batting champion. But, he backed in. One of the great stories in baseball lore is how Ted Williams refused to sit on his average and insisted on playing both games of a doubleheader in 1941, went six-for-eight and finished at .406.

Williams’ .406 is one of baseball’s magical numbers and we’ll forever remember him. But, there’s nothing magical, or special, about Reyes or his .335. He’s somebody history will forget, and fittingly, take for granted.

The Mets finally have a batting champion, but he’s no champ.

Sep 28

Thanks Joe; Sorry Jose.

First, I’d like to thank Joe D. for his earlier posting this afternoon. Joe and I will be working more and more in the future, adding to each other’s blogs. I’m very happy to be affiliated with him and hope he feels the same.

REYES: Shortchanged everybody today.

We’re working on a lot of things and hope you enjoy them over the coming weeks as the offseason progresses.

The offseason’s biggest issue will be the decision to re-sign Jose Reyes.

The Mets won their season finale, but even should he hold on to win the batting title tonight over Ryan Braun, as far as I’m concerned he’s a loser in my book. To pull himself after one at-bat, and a bunt single no less, was bush.

Ted Williams did it the right way when he became the last player to hit over .400. Reyes was merely protecting a .335 average. Big deal. He should have done it the right way and played the whole game, if for no other reason, then reward the fans who have been cheering him all these years.

Sorry, I can’t feel good for Reyes and how he handled things. And, he certainly didn’t do anything to garner respect around the league and among his fans. His teammates didn’t say anything, then again, did you expect them, too?

Real weak, Jose. Real weak, Jose. I thought you were classier than that.

 

Jun 21

Today in Mets’ History: Jim Bunning was perfect.

This date wasn’t one of the Mets’ most shining moments in their history, but it was memorable nonetheless when Philadelphia’s Jim Bunning tossed a perfect game at Shea Stadium on Father’s Day, 1964, winning 6-0.

BUNNING: Perfecto vs. Mets in 1964

Tracy Stallard, the pitcher who served up Roger Maris’ 61st homer three years earlier, was the losing pitcher for the Mets.

Pinch-hitter John Stephenson struck out to end the game. It was Bunning’s 10th strikeout.

BOX SCORE

Lost on that day was in the second game of the doubleheader, Rick Wise beat the Mets on a three-hitter, 8-2.

Bunning, a Hall of Famer and nine-time All-Star, also pitched for Detroit, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles.

Bunning also threw a no-hitter for Detroit, July 20, 1958, over Boston. When he retired after the 1971 season following a second stint with the Phillies, he had 2,855 strikeouts, second on the career list at the time behind Walter Johnson.

Bunning is also the answer to a trivia question, as he was the only pitcher to strike out Ted Williams three times in a single game.

After has retirement, Bunning served as a state senator for Kentucky.

If anybody has any memories of that day, please share them.

 


 

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