Apr 07

This Day In Mets’ History: Gooden Makes Debut

On this date in 1984, it began for Dwight Gooden who gave up one run in five innings to beat Houston, 3-2, in his major league debut at 19.

Franchise lore has it Gooden was so amped up for his start he had to jump a fence to get into a locked Astrodome.

GOODEN: Made debut  this day in 1984. (Getty)

GOODEN: Made debut this day in 1984. (Getty)

Gooden was a four-time All-Star during his 16-year career, but not after his fifth season.

Gooden finished his first season 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA over 31 starts. He worked 218 innings and was the Rookie of the Year by virtue of leading the league in strikeouts (276), WHIP (1.073) and strikeouts per nine innings (11.4).

The following season was Gooden’s best as he won the Cy Young Award and finished fourth in the MVP voting by going 24-4 (his only 20-win season) with a league-leading 1.53 ERA. He also lead the league in innings (276.2) and strikeouts (268).

While Gooden had some good seasons, his problem with drugs denied him of the greatness many projected.

Gooden left the Mets after a 3-4 record in 1994, his third straight losing season. After sitting out the 1995 season with a drug suspension, Gooden went on to play for the Yankees (he pitched a no-hitter for them in 1996), Cleveland, Houston, Tampa Bay and a second stint in the Bronx in 2000, which was his final season.

Gooden was 157-85 with a 3.10 ERA in 11 seasons with the Mets.

While Gooden will always be regarded as an iconic Met, the organization has never been inclined to retire his number.

ON DECK:  Piazza jersey fiasco.

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Apr 05

Mets Wrap: Syndergaard Stifles Royals

GAME #2:  Mets 2, at Kansas City 0.  Record: 1-1.

SUMMARY: Noah Syndergaard dominated with nine strikeouts in six innings and was backed by Neil Walker‘s two-run homer in the fourth. … The bullpen was flawless as it retired nine straight Royals to end the game. Jeurys Familia, who blew three save opportunities in the World Series, registered the save.

KEY MOMENT: Alcides Escobar tripled to lead off the game, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three hitters. Syndergaard also stranded runners in scoring position to end the fifth and sixth innings.

THOR DROPS HAMMER: Syndergaard was on his game as he struck out nine and gave up three hits with one walk in six scoreless innings. What he did in the first inning illustrated why he has Cy Young potential.

WALKER STRIKES EARLY: Walker had two hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth. Walker also drove in a run Sunday night.

WRIGHT IS RIGHT: Reports of his demise could be premature. David Wright walked twice, singled to right and stole two bases. He was also flawless in the field.

THUMBS UP: The bullpen was solid again. In his Mets’ debut, Jim Henderson struck out two in the seventh. … Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

THUMBS DOWN: Michael Conforto, who reached base four times Sunday night, was hitless in four at-bats. … Three strikeouts by Curtis Granderson. … The Mets stranded three runners in the seventh and two in the eighth.

QUOTEBOOK: “He took a deep breath and realized he had to take it pitch-by-pitch.” – Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Syndergaard’s mindset after Escobar’s leadoff triple in the first.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12: strikeouts by Mets’ pitchers.

NEXT FOR METS: The Mets are off Wednesday and will face the Phillies in their home opener Friday.

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Apr 05

Why Syndergaard Retaliation Was Off From The Start

Updated after Syndergaard’s performance Wednesday afternoon.

Not for a second did I buy into the idea the Royals planned retaliation against the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard for his buzz job past Alcides Escobar in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Escobar has a reputation of going after the first pitch, and Syndergaard didn’t want him digging in and getting too comfortable.

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

SYNDERGAARD: Old School pitcher. (Getty)

The Royals did a lot of screaming from the dugout, and after the game Syndergaard said if they had a problem with him they knew where to find him, which is 60 feet, 6 inches, from the plate.

That was another brushback pitch.

Syndergaard brushed back the Royals entirely in Tuesday’s 2-0 stuffing as he struck out nine in six innings.

The game’s turning point came in the first inning when Escobar tripled to lead off, but Syndergaard responded by striking out the next three. It seemed whenever Syndergaard was in any trouble, he responded with heat. He struck out Kendrys Morales to end the sixth with a runner in scoring position.

Syndergaard was locked in all day, much the way he was focused when he faced Escobar in the World Series.

In March, a Newsday report stated the Royals were planning payback, which was off on two counts: 1) Escobar wasn’t hit, so there was nothing to retaliate against, and 2) if the Royals did have it in for Syndergaard, they certainly wouldn’t be dumb enough to announce it ahead of time.

Syndergaard recently said as much: “I don’t think they’re too fond of me, but as far as retaliation goes, I really don’t know what they’re going to retaliate against. All I did was establish the inner part of the plate. So I don’t know what this whole retaliation talk is all about. But it’s going to be an interesting time. … I simply threw a pitch on the inside corner. Elevated. A purpose pitch. I don’t really see how any retaliation could be made.”

It was during spring training. It was a slow news day. And, it was an interesting, juicy thought. But it simply didn’t make sense.

I’ll tell you why there is a buzz about this story. What Syndergaard did, trying to establish the inside part of the plate, is an old school concept, something people these days can’t grasp. Catchers get run over and hard slides take out infielders, so rules have to be changed.

Bryce Harper, a marvelous talent, but also clueless at times, said baseball needs life and has no problems with players expressing themselves with bat flips and celebrations. Another generation would respond to a bat flip with a knockdown pitch, something the current generation doesn’t understand.

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Apr 05

April 5, Mets’ Lineup At Kansas City

We have Noah Syndergaard going against former Met Chris Young this afternoon in Kansas City.

Here is lineup for the Mets:

METS

Curtis Granderson, RF: Had great at-bat in the opener.

David Wright , 3B: Went an 0-for-4 in opener. I’m not giving up on him.

Yoenis Cespedes, CF: Let’s see if the “human” can do something positive today.

Lucas Duda, 1B: Had two-run single Sunday night.

Neil Walker, 2B: Drove in Mets’ third run Sunday.

Michael Conforto, DH: Reached base four times in opener.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Thought he’d hit lower.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: Surprised to see him this low in order.

Alejandro De Aza, LF: Like that Collins is using him early.

Syndergaard, RHP: I’d be shocked if there was any retaliation.

ON DECK: Not buying retaliation theme. 

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Apr 05

Where Did Opening Day Go?

We all know Major League Baseball scuttled tradition years ago, but did it have to do away with common sense, also?

At one time, baseball owned the first week of April with Opening Day, with the season traditionally starting in Washington and Cincinnati – the nation’s capital and the city of the sport’s oldest franchise. Those traditions made baseball unique. That disappeared awhile ago, but baseball still had the sense to open up after the NCAA Championship game.

However, the National Football League wrestled the concept of Opening Day away from baseball with the scheduling of the Super Bowl champion the Thursday before the first weekend. But, even before then Major League Baseball started doing screwy things that ruined how special Opening Day is … or was. Both the Mets and Yankees opened the regular season in Japan, then returned to the United States to play exhibition games. That’s beyond stupid.

Then it started opening games on Sunday night between the Final Four and the Championship game. But, with the nation’s attention focused on basketball, does this really make sense?

Ideally, Opening Day should be on the Tuesday after the hoops game, when, as Johnny Bench recently said, it could be a de facto national holiday with baseball owning the attention of the national sporting world.

However, in addition to the starting date, the scheduling of the teams has been far from ideal.

You all know how I feel about interleague play, but really on Opening Day? It is absurd, and for no other reason the high probability of poor weather postponing games.

If not the opener, then the rest of the series makes re-scheduling a rainout difficult because the team won’t come back. And, that argument applies to more than interleague games. Too many times teams make only one visit to a city because of the unbalanced schedule caused by interleague play.

Given that, does it make sense to have two cold-weather teams, such as Boston and Cleveland (which was postponed Monday) play each other? For that matter, why have two dome teams (Toronto played at Tampa Bay) or two warm-weather teams, such as the Dodgers and Padres, playing each other out of the gate?

I realize warm-weather and dome teams don’t want to schedule high-draw teams such as the Yankees, Mets, Cubs and Red Sox early in the season because they want to save those games for later in the summer.

However, it doesn’t have to be every year.

What makes the most sense is to schedule within the division because if those games are rained out they are easier to re-schedule because a team will make two more trips to that town.

Look, I understand it will never be the way it used to be, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be better.

Of the 15 opening series, there were only five divisional match-ups, and two of them included Dodgers-Padres and Blue Jays-Rays.

This is just not smart. It seems that not being smart is one tradition Major League Baseball will not abandon.

ON DECK: No way Royals will retaliate against Syndergaard.

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