May 11

Willie Mays became a Met on this date.

He was supposed to be a Giant forever, but on this day in 1972, San Francisco traded Willie Mays to the Mets for future trivia question answer, pitcher Charlie Williams, and $50,000.

MAYS: Playing stickball is how some will always remember him.

The trade was full circle for Mays, who returned to the city where he began his Hall of Fame 21 years before.

Mays showed few glimpses of greatness with the Mets. They were scarce and he looked old in the 1973 World Series. Still, he was still Willie Mays and he carried an aura about him. He was an electric player, in the field, on the bases and at-bat. And, even in those last games there was always the hope he’d provide one more memory.

Mays did not have the longevity in New York as Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider or Joe DiMaggio, but will always be linked to the city, and as they talk of his catch off Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series in the Polo Grounds against Cleveland, they also speak of him playing stickball with kids in the streets.

Mays finished with 660 home runs, but missed nearly two years at the beginning of his career to serve in the military. Had he played those seasons, there’s no telling how close he would have come to Babe Ruth. The numbers were staggering regardless as he played in that wind tunnel known as Candlestick Park. (For the record, Mays hit .298 with 39 homers and 106 RBI lifetime against the Mets).

Much to my regret, I never saw Mays play in person. I saw Mantle, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson and Roberto Clemente from his era, but never Mays. Television never did him justice. I do know, however, had I had that opportunity, I wouldn’t have taken my eyes off him the entire game.

He was that special a player. I hope you’ll share your special memories of Mays with me.


Apr 05

Mets face Phils as rivalry renews

METS CHAT: Game #4 at Phillies

Any Mets’ fan will tell you their team’s biggest rival is Philadelphia and not the Yankees. Afterall, it is the Phillies the Mets compete against for the NL East and not the Yankees, who occupy two of their weekends.

When the Mets coughed up the lead in 2007 and 2008, it was the Phillies who were the beneficiaries, including winning the World Series the latter season. But, truth be told, the rivalry has played out more in the papers and fans than on the field, where the Phillies have been the real team to beat.

It will be interesting to see how the Mets stack up to the Phillies this season. They are the odds-on favorite to win the division while the Mets have been picked for the basement in several circles.

If you’re watching tonight, click onto the Mets Chat icon and we can chat about the game.

Apr 05

Chris Young kicks off series in Philly tonight

Much of the pre-series buzz is about sending a message to the Philadelphia Phillies. Nice hype, but I’m not buying. Even should the Mets sweep the Phillies this week, what message could they possibly send to a team that has reached the playoffs the last three years, including the World Series twice?

YOUNG: Comeback story starts tonight.

By most accounts, the Phillies – even with Chase Utley and Brad Lidge shelved – remain the class of the NL East and are well aware of the annoyance they call the Mets. It’s usually electric when the teams play, but the Phillies are the superior team and they know it.

What’s important to the Mets is they don’t believe it, even though that has been the prevailing feeling in the clubhouse when they compare themselves to Philly. With a good series, the only message the Mets would be sending is to themselves, and the best way to start is to not get ahead of themselves by making more of this series than it really is.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s Game Four,” David Wright said. “It’s obviously a very, very good team. I think it’s a challenge. I don’t think either team is out to necessarily prove anything this early in the season. But it would be nice to go in there and win a series.”

A competitive series would also help in setting the stage for the home opener this Friday. If the Mets get waxed it won’t make for a festive mood this weekend.

Chris Young gets the ball tonight for the Mets. Young threw well during spring training,but coming off a shoulder injury and signed for a bargain basement price, the Mets don’t know what to expect from him.

Young, who hasn’t started 30 games in a season since, 2007, threw 25.1 pain-free innings while compiling a 1.78 ERA in spring training.

“I feel good,” Young told reporters in Florida, where the Mets opened their season by winning two of three from the Marlins. “I’ve made some good strides. I think my arm strength’s increased, breaking ball’s gotten sharper, command’s better. It was a good spring training.”

But, will it be a good year? That’s one of the Mets’ significant questions.

 

Oct 29

Mets to introduce Alderson today; he’ll answer questions about the manager.

The Mets will introduce Sandy Alderson today as their new general manager, and he’ll answer a multitude of questions about his managerial preference.

This much we know already about Alderson: He’ll implement an organizational philosophy and the new manager must adhere to that way of thinking. Alderson is not as interested in the manager’s philosophy as he is the manager fitting into his.

We’ve already heard a lot of names and likely to hear a few more in the coming days. The following are some of the more popular candidates:

Bob Melvin: Melvin has managed in the major leagues, he’s smart, knows how to deal with players and carry through an organizational philosophy. He doesn’t have a dominant, fiery personality, but that’s not essential with Alderson. Slowly, his candidacy is gaining steam and could be emerging as a frontrunner. He’s already in the organization as the Mets’ AL scout.

Wally Backman: Fans and media have been clamoring for Backman even before Jerry Manuel was sacked. He’s a favorite of the Wilpons and Alderson has him on his list. He’ll likely get an interview, but is sliding in the polls. Alderson isn’t interested in a personality as much as he is getting somebody to follow through with his philosophy. Working against Backman is a lack of experience. It’s doubtful Alderson will tie his success to a candidate with a minimum of experience.

Terry Collins: Collins was hired to improve the farm system, and Alderson might find it best to leave him in that capacity. Collins managed Houston and the Angels, and is an organization man. I think he’ll stay in his current role, but he could draw an interview.

Clint Hurdle: Hurdle’s name popped up recently with Texas’ appearance in the World Series. The Ranger’s hitting coach had some success managing the Colorado Rockies. He has a Mets’ background, but I don’t know if he has enough to get over the top.

Chip Hale: Hale did a good job in his first season as Mets’ third base coach. He’s smart, well organized and has a strong work ethic. He’ll interview and could stay in the organization in some capacity, perhaps as a bench coach. He’s too good for the Mets to let him slide through their fingers.

Lee Mazzilli: If the Mets truly want somebody with organizational ties, there’s always the fan-favorite Mazzilli. Mazzilli didn’t get a fair shake managing Baltimore and has been waiting for the right opportunity. I’m not sure this will be it. Being a favorite of Fred Wilpon might not be enough.

Ken Oberkfell: Oberkfell has managed the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate and has logged more time in minor league dugouts than Backman. He obviously knows the Mets’ minor league system. As a second base man for St. Louis he learned under Whitey Herzog, so he learned from one of the best. He was a cerebral player and should mesh with Alderson.

Oct 27

Mets to name Alderson

He was the favorite from the moment he announced his interest in the job, and a formality after being endorsed by commissioner Bud Selig. Although the Mets have not officially done so, the announcement of Sandy Alderson for the organization’s GM position is forthcoming – Friday during the World Series travel day.

ALDERSON: It's a new day.

Alderson beat out Josh Byrnes for the job, so it was a win-win for the Mets regardless. The Mets ran a thorough search, interviewing a long list of qualified candidates. It’s hard to think any of the choices would have been bad, but Alderson is off the charts.

Alderson has a sterling reputation in the sport having brought winning to Oakland and San Diego, and with his work in MLB and in Latin America. Alderson brings credibility to an organization that has long needed it; he brings decisiveness and toughness which has long been lacking.

Perhaps, above all, he brings with him the tools for change and the knowledge it won’t come overnight. Rebuilding the Mets will be a long process as several bulky contracts will weigh the team down for any immediate influx of talent in 2011.

Alderson is 62, but that’s a number. He’s a progressive thinker who has done it. His reputation is such that he’ll bring in quality people and implement a system that works.

I really like this move because it is no a quick fix. He isn’t the flavor-of-the-month the way Omar Minaya was when he took over.

The Mets are immediately better today because they sent the message they are serious and the rest of baseball believes them.