Apr 22

Mets List: Mets-Braves Magic Moments

Unlike the Yankees, who always had the Red Sox as a historical sparring partner, the Mets haven’t had what you’d consider a for-the-ages rival. In their infant years, they had the Dodgers and Giants for obvious reasons, then in 1969, they developed a brief rivalry with the Chicago Cubs. Later, it was the Pirates, then the Cardinals, and eventually the Braves.

I have always wanted to run a weekly Mets List feature and plan to do so on Friday.



With the Mets in Atlanta today for the start of a three-game series, I have come up with five of the most memorable Mets-Braves moments. If you have others, please share.

Post Sept. 11 homer: On Sept. 21, in the first professional sporting event in New York following the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the Braves were in town. Emotions ran high, but boiled over when Mike Piazza hit a go-ahead homer off Steve Karsay.

The Mets trailed by a run entering the eighth when Piazza delivered.

The 1969 NLCS: The Mets’ reward for overtaking the Cubs was to face the powerful Braves in the first year of divisional play.

The Braves were loaded with the likes of Hank Aaron, Rico Carty and Orlando Cepeda, but the Mets swept the series, winning 9-5 and 11-6 (at Atlanta) and 7-4 (at Shea Stadium).

Tom Seaver, Ron Taylor and Nolan Ryan were the winning pitchers. From there, the Mets continued to stun the sports universe by beating Baltimore in the World Series.

The Grand Slam single: The Mets trailed in the 1999 NLCS 3-to-1 in games and 3-2 entering the bottom of the 15th inning. The Mets tied it, 3-3, when Todd Pratt drew a bases-loaded walk.

Robin Ventura followed with what appeared to be a grand slam, but was only credited with a single when the Mets stormed the field to congratulate Ventura. In the process, Mets’ runners passed each other on the bases necessitating the call. VIDEO

The Mets would lose Game 6, 10-9, when Kenny Rogers issued a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth.

The Subway Series against the Yankees would have to wait another year.

Late night fireworks: On July 4 and 5, 1985, the Mets had one of those games. The Mets tied it, 8-8, in the top of the ninth on Lenny Dykstra’s RBI single off closer Bruce Sutter.

The teams slogged around for several innings before Howard Johnson’s two-run homer off Terry Forster in the 13th inning. However, Atlanta tied it, 10-10, on Terry Harper’s two-run homer off Tom Gorman. The Mets regained the lead in the 18th on Dykstra’s sacrifice fly off reliever Rick Camp, but the Braves tied it again on Camp’s homer off Gorman.

The Mets seemingly blew open the game with five runs off Camp in the 19th, but pesky Atlanta pulled within 16-13 off Ron Darling.

The game ended shortly before 4 a.m., but the Braves went ahead with their fireworks night. That prompted many calls to police claiming their neighborhood was under attack.

Double-header treat: In a night that might have symbolized the passing of the torch was near, Mets started prize pitching prospects Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler combined for a double-header sweep on June 18 in Atlanta.

Harvey, who would pitch in the All-Star Game that year but eventually wind up on the disabled list and need surgery, won the first game, 4-3. Wheeler, who grew up near Atlanta, won the second game. 6-1.

Rarely had the Mets won in Atlanta, but sweeping a double-header was unfathomable.

ON DECK: Matt Harvey Tinkers With Mechanics

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Mar 22

Wondering If Wright Will Be Ready

David Wright says he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but who can’t see somebody else being the Mets’ third baseman that day that night in Kansas City?

That’s the consensus I get from most Mets’ fans, who on a recent poll I conducted on Twitter responded with Wright’s health (57 percent), followed by the pressure on free-agent Yoenis Cespedes (22 percent), the defense up the middle, which includes playing Cespedes out of position (14 percent) and the bullpen (7 percent) being the most pressing Mets’ issues.

WRIGHT: Will he be ready? (Getty)

WRIGHT: Will he be ready? (Getty)

Wright, who won’t play Tuesday against the Yankees, has three hits in nine at-bats in three exhibition games. With only a week remaining, he won’t play in the dozen or so exhibition games originally projected he’d play.

Wright says he’s on pace for Opening Day, but admits there are days when the spinal stenosis doesn’t respond to his exercise program. There are times when he simply hurts. There are days when he wakes up feeling 60.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s out of my control,’’ Wright told reporters. “I learned a long time ago: You can control the things that you can control. And this is something that I can’t.

“I can give myself every opportunity to put myself in a position to play, and give my back every chance possible. But there are going to be some days where it’s just not possible.’’

Between now and Opening Day, Wright can accumulate another 40 or so at-bats, but most of them could come against minor-league pitchers. And, it wouldn’t entail getting much rest between games, which is a test he doesn’t need to take now. Is that really going to get him ready?

The ultimate test will come on defense, which features bending, stretching, diving and quick responses under game conditions. Those can’t be simulated.

Wright is known for being notoriously optimistic, and his desire to be ready Opening Day might be a stretch.

I’m thinking this might be one of those times.


Mar 09

Mets Lineup Against Yankees

David Wright out again for Mets. They say he probably won’t play more than a dozen exhibition games this spring, which is fine by me. Just so that he’s healthy. Here’s the Mets’ batting order for today’s game against the Yankees.

Curtis Granderson, RF:  He proved he can hit leadoff, but every time I see his name at the top of the order reminds me of the Mets’ inability to produce a No. 1 hitter in the traditional sense.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS: Trying to find the right spot for him. He’ll probably hit in three or for other spots in the order.

Yoenis Cespedes, CF: He’s loose now. Let’s see where he is after an 0-for-17 stretch in July.

Lucas Duda, 1B: If he hits 30 homers this year, I’d rather it be five a month rather than two in one month and 12 in another.

Neil Walker, 2B: As with Cabrera, he’ll be moved around a bit until they find a spot for him.

Travis d’Arnaud, C: I’m hoping he can hit at least 20 homers. And, improve his throwing.

Alejandro De Aza, LF: There’s been talk of a trade. They’ll move him if they can.

Kevin Plawecki, DH: It has been mentioned he might open the season in the minors, which might not be a bad thing because he’ll get consistent at-bats.

T.J. Rivera, 3B: Today’s Mets’ third baseman du jour.

Jacob deGrom, RP: I’m betting on at least 17 wins.




Feb 25

Harvey: “I Want To Be Part Of The Mets.”

Speaking to ESPN today, Matt Harvey said what Mets’ fans have wanted to hear for a long time. Several issues were glossed over in the interview, but the essential nugget was Harvey saying he wants to stay with the Mets. He didn’t say anything about home-team discounts or what it would take, but just saying that is cause for hope.

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

HARVEY: Walking away after World Series collapse. (AP)

Harvey addressed the innings controversy ignited by agent Scott Boras by very diplomatically, saying, “as a young player, you want to play this game for a long time. I want to be part of the Mets and help this organization get to where we want to be.”

As for Boras, last year Harvey defiantly supported him by saying he hired the fire-balling agent to maximize his career, so naturally, speculation was – which I admit was voiced here – he’d take the last dollar and bolt for his childhood team, the Yankees. Harvey said the main issue Boras focused on was, “is helping this team getting as far as we can and not only getting there for one year but getting there multiple times.”

For that to happen, serious precautions needed to be taken to protect his arm, which generated a conflict between Harvey and his agent, his doctor and Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins.

“As a young guy you want to have a long career,” Harvey said. “ A doctor is telling you one thing, but as a competitor you want to be out there.”

When Boras leaked the innings story, Harvey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery, was to be shut down at 180 innings. Instead, and not without some tension, he threw 216. Unfortunately for him and the Mets, he didn’t reach 217, which would have been the ninth inning of Game 5.

Of course, as we all remember, manager Collins went against his better judgment and acquiesced to Harvey’s demand to remain in the game. He expended a lot of energy arguing with Collins and sprinting to the mound to start the ninth. Perhaps that’s when he ran of juice.

After reflecting on that night, Harvey admitting “some heartbreak and some sadness” and said: “Nobody wants to lose. Nobody is trying to lose. It’s one of those things. Once you sit back and realize what we did and what we’re capable of for years to come, and with who we have, and getting [Yoenis] Cespedes back, and getting a healthy David Wright, followed by the starting staff we have. It was a great experience for us. Something we can learn from, but not dwell on, but really pick up from where we left off and finish what we started.”

It’s spring training, a time for new beginnings, and with that comes the hope Harvey really wants to stay here and possibly the Mets can keep the band together.

Would be nice.


Jan 14

Mets Matters: Hernandez Returns To SNY

Sometimes the status quo is a good thing, such as the news Keith Hernandez will return to the SNY broadcast booth with Gary Cohen and Ron Darling. There are a lot of outstanding broadcasting teams, and SNY’s is one of the best.

The trio are insightful, humorous and above all, are objective. They are different in that although they have deep ties to the Mets, they aren’t afraid to call them out when they deserve it.

You can’t ask for more.

ARBITRATION METS: The Mets traditionally sign their arbitration-eligible players to bypass the hearings, which will be in early February in Florida. The eligible Mets are: Neil Walker, Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Jenrry Famila, Ruben Tejada, Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin.

METS LOOK AT CRICKET PLAYER: Both the Mets and Yankees are looking at West Indies cricket player Kieran Powell, who is not lacking of confidence. He said: “My goal is to get signed. Any team that gives me an opportunity will be rewarded 100 times over.”

TICKETS GO ON SALE: Spring training tickets go on sale Saturday.