Apr 07

Today In Mets’ History: Gooden Makes Debut

On this date in 1984, 19-year-old Dwight Gooden made his major league debut and earned a 3-2 victory over Houston. Gooden gave up a run on three hits and two walks with five strikeouts. It was his first of 17 victories that year in giving Mets’ fans a glimpse of things to come.

In 31 starts that year, he went 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA and threw 218 innings with a league-leading 276 strikeouts and 1.073 WHIP.

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

GOODEN: Career started on this day. (AP)

Gooden exploded into greatness the following season when he went 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA in amassing 276.2 innings over 35 starts, of which 16 were complete games that included eight shutouts.

For the second straight season he lead the league in strikeouts with 268 strikeouts. He would never win 20 games again or lead the league in strikeouts.

Gooden went 17-6 in 1986, the year the Mets beat Boston in the World Series, but there were also signs of upcoming trouble. He didn’t make it past the fifth inning in either of his two starts against the Red Sox in the World Series, and then was a no-show for the victory parade.

Gooden was later arrested in December of that year in Tampa, Fla., for fighting with police. Soon after, reports surfaced of substance abuse and he tested positive for cocaine during spring training. Gooden entered a rehab center, April 1, and did not make his first start until June 5, and won 15 games that season.

Gooden had several more good seasons for the Mets, but never regained his dominance.

After two positive tests for cocaine, Gooden was suspended for the 1995 season.

Gooden’s 11-year Mets’ career ended with him going 157-85. He signed with the Yankees and threw a no-hitter in 1996. He also played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Houston and retired after the 2000 season.

Feb 20

Mets Should Cherish Own History And Forget Yankees

I keep reading how this is the time for the New York Mets to “take control of the city and make this their town.’’

That’s an impossible venture based on history as the Yankees have a huge head start. I’ve been told this was once a National League town, but how can this be if the Yankees usually won?

METS: Their own history is pretty good. (MLB)

METS: Their own history is pretty good. (MLB)

Math says the Yankees have 27 World Series titles while the New York Mets, Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers won a combined eight. I was never good at math in school, but understand those numbers.

Only the 1921, 1922 Giants and 1955 Dodgers beat the Yankees head-to-head in a World Series.

The Mets will never take permanent control of the city. Just as the Jets won’t take it from the Giants; the Nets from the Knicks; and Islanders from the Rangers.

Those teams will always be the younger brother.

But, that doesn’t mean for one glorious summer, or two, or three, the Mets can’t be New York’s darlings. It happened in 1969 and 1986. But, temper that because from then to the present the Yankees won seven titles.

The Yankees’ mission statement always has been to win the World Series. That hasn’t changed since George Steinbrenner’s passing and won’t as long as long as the team remains in that family. The Mets want to win, but that’s not their mission statement. And, for readers of this blog who have long complained about their spending, you understand that concept. Worry about the perception of who owns the city once the Mets change their philosophy.

I’m not interested in the Mets catching the Yankees. That’s beating their head against a brick wall. What I am interested in is seeing the Mets catch the Washington Nationals, St. Louis and whoever comes out of the West.

You can also throw in the Braves and Marlins in that group. Those are their real rivals. The Mets and Mets’ fans should keep their eyes on the real prize, which is winning their corner of the world.

I didn’t grow up here, but can’t count the number of times I’ve walked through the concourses at Shea Stadium and Citi Field after a Mets’ victory and heard fans chant, “Yankees suck.’’ And this wasn’t after an interleague game with them. Why couldn’t they enjoy what they had just seen? Somebody please explain that to me.

Boston fans did the same for years. Even at a Patriots’ Super Bowl rally Bostonians chanted “Yankees suck.’’ I also heard it when the Red Sox finally won as I walked from Busch Stadium back to my St. Louis hotel.

The Mets – and I include Mets’ fans in this – should ignore what the Yankees are doing and take care of their own business. If they do that, they’ll own the damned back pages of the tabloids. It’s the hot team, the one that makes the most noise, that grab the back pages.

Growing up in Cleveland, Indians’ fans had that same fascination with the Yankees. I always thought it was acknowledging an inferiority complex. Don’t worry about keeping up with the Yankees’ Joneses and take care of your own house and you’ll get the attention.

The Mets will never convert a true Yankees’ fan just as the opposite is true. But, for one summer they can get those straddling the fence to find their way to Queens instead of the Bronx.

The Mets have their own history and it is worth cherishing. Never forget that.


Feb 18

Today In Mets History: Mets, Jets Sign Contract

Gone are the days when baseball and football teams shared the same venue. Once the Athletics get their own stadium, or the Raiders bolt Oakland again, an era in American sports will be over.

For a long time the Mets and Jets shared Shea Stadium, and who can forget 1969-1970 when the Mets won the World Series and Jets won the Super Bowl. And, the Knicks won the NBA title in the spring of 1970.

On this date in 1977, the Jets signed on to stay at Shea Stadium. However, it wouldn’t be long before they would bolt for the Meadowlands.


Jan 23

Gee Emblematic Of Difference Between Mets And Giants

It is more than talented players that separate the San Francisco Giants from the Mets. There is also an organizational philosophy. The Giants’ is about winning; the Mets is about pinching pennies.

It was simply a single line item in the transactions, that the Giants opted to re-sign pitcher Ryan Vogelsong. Here is a team with three World Series titles in the past five years that is loaded with pitching. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson and Jake Peavey. That’s five starters. Vogelsong makes six, and don’t forget Yusmeiro Petit.

They all have substantial major league track records.

Meanwhile, the Mets are optimistic about their young rotation, and despite legitimate questions about every pitcher, they are determined to deal Dillon Gee, who’ll make just $5.3 million in 2015.

What the Giants realize, that although they have a glut of pitching, you can never have enough pitching. And, this is a perennial winner.

Meanwhile, the Mets, who haven’t had a winning season since 2008, are gambling they will have no pitching issues this summer and are willing to deal Gee to prove their point.

It’s not a gamble they should make.

Jan 19

Gap Between Mets, Nats Wider Than You Think

The Mets finished in a second-place tie last season in the NL East 17 games behind the pennant winning Washington Nationals.

GEE: Trying to move him. (Getty)The two current storylines of these teams suggest a wider gap – much wider.

The Nationals, who won 96 games last season with the NL’s deepest rotation, will add free-agent prize Max Scherzer. Meanwhile, the Mets are taking flak for charging their players to participate in an off-season conditioning program. The Mets are also still attempting to trade Dillon Gee, and word is they don’t have to get a major leaguer in return. Shows what they think of their most reliable starter the past few seasons.

The Nationals are trying to sell the prospect of the World Series to their fan base. The Mets are still trying to sell a .500 season.

To make room for Scherzer’s contract, the Nationals are willing to trade shortstop Ian Desmond, who will become a free-agent after this year. Yes, the Mets could use Desmond to address their shortstop question, but the Nationals’ asking price would be exorbitant for a one-year rental.

Trading for Desmond could be a giant step back if he leaves, and put on the financial shackles if they signed him to an extension.

While adding Scherzer doesn’t guarantee anything, it definitely puts them in good position to be thinking deep into October.

Reportedly, San Francisco, San Diego and Colorado are interested in Gee.

The Mets would like to unload Gee before spring training, but I believe they would get a greater return if they waited until the trade deadline.