Al Leiter

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Right At Home In Queen City

The New York Mets showed they had real fight in the series finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and they would show even more in Cincinnati:

1. With all the injuries to the pitching staff, Marcus Stroman had the biggest start of the year. Those eight innings were a godsend.

2. The reason the Mets are in first isn’t just because of performances like we saw from Stroman. It’s because of performances like we saw with Stephen Nogosek and Geoff Hartlieb. Even though they lost that game, it saved the pen.

3. Of course, Robert Stock, who is well past Plan Z, makes a spot start, and he leaves the game with an injury after an inning.

4. For over a month now, Dominic Smith has returned to form. He’s hitting for power, and he’s getting big hits.

5. James McCann has had his adjustment period, and he’s been better than the catcher they thought they were signing. Since May 29, he’s hitting .300/.361/.485.

6. People bemoan managers not making gut calls anymore, but Luis Rojas‘ bizarre decision to pinch hit McCann for Tomas Nido paid off to the tune of a go-ahead two run homer.

7. Actually, that wasn’t Rojas, it was Dave Jauss filling in for the suspended Rojas. Jauss certainly seemed to enjoy his time at the helm, and fans seemed to love his infectious personality.

8. We’re seeing it from Edwin Diaz again. There’s just too much Armando Benitez in him. Yes, that’s both a compliment and reason to worry.

9. Luis Guillorme might’ve had one tough inning defensively, but he’s been great all season. It’s long past time messing around and just let him play everyday.

10. Michael Conforto had a huge Two home run game in the comeback extra inning win. At the time, it seemed like he was taking off, but then he stopped hitting again.

11. That’s not too dissimilar from J.D. Davis who is one for his last 10 with five strikeouts.

12. This is just a reminder that unless the Mets move Jeff McNeil to third, they really need a third baseman at the trade deadline.

13. McNeil’s bat has awoken with him hitting .316/.395/.421 over the past few weeks.

14. The loss of Jose Peraza is going to hurt more than you expected at the beginning of the year. He’s been playing great defense, and he has a bevy of clutch hits.

15. People love to love situational hitting and small ball, but then they go berserk when the Mets are mashing homers.

16. Jesse Winker is a no-good evil Mets killer. Actually, he’s not evil. He has fun with the fans and the game. Still, the Mets should never even contemplate pitching to him in a big spot again.

17. In a big spot late in the game, you don’t know it Kevin Pillar is going to get a base hit, but he’s certainly going to tattoo the ball.

18. Gary Cohen deriding skyline chili was like Bud Harrelson punching Pete Rose combined with Al Leiter‘s one hitter. Put another way, Gare landed a punch, and there was no way Cincinnati could come back from it.

19. While we all call Taijuan Walker the best free agent signing, truth is, it might really be Aaron Loup.

20. The Mets certainly love playing in these band boxes in Cincinnati and Philadelphia because they continue to win games in these cities.

Game Recaps

Mets Refused To Lose

Mets Battled But Were Just Short

Marcus Stroman Came Up Huge

Keith Hernandez Reminder Mets Need Better Attention To Own Hall Of Fame

During this series between the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals, it was announced Keith Hernandez will FINALLY be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame. It didn’t exactly go great:

The Edward Jones advertisement being larger than Hernandez’s name is embarrassing. Then again, at least the Cardinals are attending to their Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have an official committee, and they have fan votes to determine who belongs in their Hall of Fame. More than that, they actually have a Hall of Fame.

When Citi Field first opened, there was some lip service to the Mets Hall of Fame. As time progressed, and the impact of Madoff continued, we saw the Team Store push into and completely overwhelm the Mets Hall of Fame.

Aside from that, there’s been a serious lack of attention to inducting new members. The last member inducted was Mike Piazza in 2013. That’s unacceptable.

Right now, 13 of the top 24 Mets by WAR have not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame. Put another way, most of the best players in team history have not been recognized.

That includes Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter. That’s shocking with Alonzo being the best second baseman in team history, and with Leiter being the only Mets pitcher to win a play-in game.

It’s more than that. Bobby Valentine led the Mets to consecutive postseasons. Johan Santana had many great moments including the first and only no-hitter in Mets history. There’s also Nelson Doubleday who purchased the Mets and brought in the right people leading to the best run in Mets history.

Point is, the Mets Hall of Fame is severely lacking. Case-in-point. David Wright has not yet been inducted. We can argue over retiring his number, but his not being in the Mets Hall of Fame is absurd.

The Mets need to have Wright and others in the team Hall of Fame. For that matter, there needs to be a real Mets Hall of Fame.

This is a franchise with real history and great moments. It’s well past time it’s celebrated and properly honored. The Mets need a real and proper Hall of Fame. Hopefully, it will happen soon.

Brandon Nimmo Looks And Sounds Serious About Winning

When you think of Brandon Nimmo, you think of a player who is always smiling, hustling, and just seems to have an “aww shucks” mentality. That’s not to say he doesn’t come to beat you.

Nimmo is one of the toughest outs there is in the game, and he makes the pitcher work like few others. He’s also had a penchant for the big hit or key defensive play. That said, he just doesn’t have that “look” of a steely resolve of a player who just comes to beat you.

That was actually a hallmark of that 1999 Mets team. Whatever it is, we saw that with Edgardo Alfonzo, Rickey Henderson, Al Leiter, John Olerud, Mike Piazza, Rick Reed, Robin Ventura, and really, the entire team. It was just a mentality and attitude they had.

Looking at the current Mets team, Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard seems to be the only Mets players who truly have that mentality. Judging from his interview during Spring Training, Nimmo may be finding it as well.

This shows this Mets team knows it’s good. It’s really good. They know they have a target on their backs, and like that 1999 team, they’re coming after the Atlanta Braves and all of baseball.

Before a pitch is thrown, this Mets team is already developing a swagger and a quiet confidence. They’re coming prepared, and they’re not letting anyone get in their way.

Seeing Nimmo there is yet another reason to believe in this team. During the course of the season, we’ll find 162 more.

Leiters: Like Father, Like Son

In his first conference game of the season, Jack Leiter furthered his case to be the first pick in the draft throwing a 16 strikeout no-hitter.

It’s at least somewhat reminiscent of Al Leiter throwing the first no-hitter in Florida Marlins history.

How many father/son duos can say they both have no-hitters? How many of them can say they were Major League pitchers (Jack will certainly be one in the not too distant future).

Seeing Jack pitch, as a Mets fan, you can’t help but feel good for Leiter, who was a very good Met who belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame.

It also serves as a reminder how Leiter took a step back from broadcasting to be able to spend time with his son and see him pitch. It allowed him to not only help his son reach this level, but also for him to just be a dad who gets to enjoy these moments.

Someday, you hope to see Jack Leiter continuing to follow in his father’s footsteps and pitch for the Mets. Mostly, you wish for him to have the great career he seems poised to have.

Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia Poised To Make Mets History

Tom Seaver did something unique in New York Mets history. When he took the field for player introductions before Game 1 of the 1986 World Series, he became the first pitcher to stand on the field for three separate Mets postseason games.

Of course, Seaver was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, and he never did pitch in that series. To date, no Mets pitcher has pitched in three separate postseasons for the Mets . . . yet.

Back in 2015, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia were big pieces of a Mets pitching staff which not only led the team to the postseason but also a pennant. They’d join Addison Reed as the only members of that 2015 staff to pitch in the ensuing postseason when the Mets lost the Wild Card Game.

That trio joined a number of the 1999-2000 Mets pitchers to pitch in consecutive postseason. That list included Armando Benitez, Dennis Cook, John Franco, Al Leiter, Rick Reed, and Turk Wendell.

They are just part of a group of Mets pitchers to pitch in multiple postseasons. The other pitchers in that group are Rick Aguilera, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Roger McDowell, Tug McGraw, and Seaver.

That’s a total of 17 pitchers who have appeared in two postseasons for the Mets. However, none have appeared in three.

If Syndergaard can return from Tommy John, and Familia can stay healthy and productive, they’re going to get that chance because this is an excellent Mets team. This is a team which should get there, and maybe this time Syndergaard and Familia can celebrate a World Series.

After that, with both being pending free agents, the question will be whether they’ll get the opportunity to get to pitch in a fourth postseason. Time will tell.

Mets Old Timer’s Day Lineups And Ideas

It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.

It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:

MGR Davey Johnson/Bobby Valentine

P Dwight Gooden/John Franco

C Todd Hundley/Mike Piazza

1B Keith Hernandez/John Olerud

2B Tim Teufel/Edgardo Alfonzo

3B Howard Johnson/David Wright

SS Rey Ordonez/Jose Reyes (I don’t want him there, but he’ll be invited)

LF Cliff Floyd/Endy Chavez

CF Mookie Wilson/Carlos Beltran

RF Darryl Strawberry/Curtis Granderson

Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.

Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.

For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.

If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.

The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.

Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.

Mets Wear Caps, We All Win

Ever since Al Leiter wore all of the caps in a complete game victory of the anniversary of 9/11, Mets players haven’t been permitted to wear the First Responders caps again. That was until last night.

Before the game, Pete Alonso, who had first responders cleats made for his teammates last year, announced on WFAN, the team would once again be permitted to wear the caps. Alonso said Jeff Wilpon was instrumental in getting MLB to permit the Mets to wear them, and to that, it seems the Wilpons did something truly great on their way out.

With that, we all had a significant and important victory. These caps are important to Mets fans and New York. It’s a part of the healing process and remembrance of 9/11.

With Jacob deGrom on the mound, it seemed like the Mets were well poised to get a win on the field. Even with Michael Conforto misplaying a Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. flyball into an RBI double in the first, deGrom was great again.

The issue with a deGrom start is run support. With the way things go when he starts, that one run is liable to be enough to lose. It’s certainly seemed that way in the second when Lourdes Gurriel robbed Andres Gimenez of an RBI.

The Mets wouldn’t be denied in the fourth when Conforto would make up for his earlier misplay with a go-ahead three run homer.

Things would go from bad to worse to abysmal for the Blue Jays. Later that inning, Anthony Kay relieved Chase Anderson, and he should’ve gotten out of the inning. Instead, the Blue Jays lost a Jeff McNeil ball in the lights, and the Mets would have a 4-1 lead.

Things turned from bad to ugly for Kay and Blue Jays in the fourth. Kay would load the bases, but he’d get exactly what he needed – a double play ball off the bat of J.D. Davis.

Blue Jays shortstop Santiago Espinal short hopped the sinking liner. Instead of trying for a double play, he went to cut the run off at home. Apparently, Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen was completely unprepared for the perfect throw as he whiffed on it allowing a run to score. That set the stage for a Dominic Smith grand slam, and it didn’t stop there.

The Mets scored 10 in that inning, and they’d go on to score 18 in the game. In addition to the Conforto and Smith homers, in the game, they’d also get a homer from Wilson Ramos. Ramos would also have an RBI double as would Gimenez. This really was an unprecedented level of support for deGrom.

Due to an interesting quirk with the save rule, Erasmo Ramirez would pick up the save by pitching three scoreless innings and preserving the Mets 17 run lead.

The Mets appear to be playing good baseball again. They certainly will need to keep this up if they’re going to have any shot at the postseason.

Game Notes: The Yankees were also permitted to wear the First Responder caps. Alonso cycled through the caps first wearing a Sanitation cap.

You Can Wear 21 But Can’t Wear The First Responder Caps

This week, MLB made the fitting tribute of allowing Puerto Rican players and Neil Walker to wear 21 in tribute of Roberto Clemente. It’s a departure from the norm, but it’s a necessary one because there are people and events so important, we need to honor them.

It’s why Major League Baseball players wear 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. It’s why the Houston Astros wore caps last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It’s why MLB has special caps for Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, and other days of the year.

Actually no, those are a cash grab. That’s what brings us to the Mets not wearing the first responder caps.

Not since Al Leiter wore a cap for each of the first responders on the one year anniversary of 9/11 have players been permitted to wear the caps. Truth be told, the Mets weren’t allowed to wear them in 2001, but Todd Zeile led his teammates in defying that order.

We know the great lengths MLB has gone to stop it. That includes sending operatives in to collect the caps pregame. Even when David Wright purportedly tried to hide a cap to wear it on the field, they found it and confiscated it.

The reason this is happening is MLB hasn’t found a way to market the caps for profit. Make no mistake, MLB loves making profits off tragedy and crisis. After all, they’re selling you officially licensed face masks during this pandemic.

That’s well within their rights. No one is going to tell them to not make money. After all, they’re a business.

On that note, doing the right thing here and allowing players to wear caps honoring first responders doesn’t cost anything. If anything, it helps get attention for the sport. That’s not too dissimilar from MLB already does when they and the Mets will promote the Mike Piazza home run today.

As an aside, the Wilpons selling that jersey for a profit is another indication of why they needed to be gone. Fortunately, they will be soon.

Overall, MLB did right by Clemente and Robinson. They honored the moon landing. They need to now allow the first responder caps because Pete Alonso getting everyone cleats doesn’t cut it.

If anything, it highlights how everyone but MLB seems to get the importance of remembering 9/11 and the impact that event has had on New Yorkers to this day.

Mojo Rising Bracket: (2) Edgardo Alfonzo vs. (3) Al Leiter

(2) Edgardo Alfonzo – Best second baseman in Mets history in addition to being one of the best third baseman. Part of the best defensive infield in history. First Mets player to ever go 6-for-6. Homered in the first inning of the Mets first ever NLDS game, and he hit a grand slam off Bobby Chouinard in that game to give the Mets the victory. All-Star in 2000. Hit .444/.565/.611 in the 2000 NLCS. Last Mets player to ever record a World Series base hit in Shea Stadium. Led the 2019 Brooklyn Cyclones to their first ever outright New York-Penn League title.

(3) Al Leiter – Was a 1 or 1A during most of his Mets tenure, and he gave his all battling tough when the Mets needed him most. Had arguably the single greatest pitching performance in team history with his two hit shut out of the Reds in the Wild Card play-in game. Won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2000. Became the first ever pitcher to beat all 30 teams. Wore the caps for each and every first reponder agency during his complete game on the one-year anniversary of 9/11. Trails only Tom Seaver and Jacob deGrom in ERA+ among Mets pitchers with at least 1,000 innings arguably making him the best left-handed pitcher in team history.

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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 66 Josh Edgin

The 2010 draft was one of the best in Mets history. It was not only because it brought the team future superstars like Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but also because it developed useful Major League players. One of those players was 30th round draft pick Josh Edgin.

Edgin would first get called up to the majors in 2012, and he would be given the chance to develop as a LOOGY on a rebuilding Mets team. Something seemed to click for him in August when he began to put together a streak of 16 appearances without allowing an earned run. During that season, he seemed to establish himself as a part of the future of the Mets bullpen.

Unfortunately, Edgin would have to wait another year to do that as he would deal with the typical ups-and-downs of a young reliever in the bullpen, and he would deal with a stress fracture in his rib in 2013. Finally, in 2014, he got his chance, and he was one of the best relievers on that Mets team, and quite possibly, one of the best LOOGYs in all of baseball.

Over 47 appearances, Edgin was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA, 0.915 WHIP, a 9.2 K/9, and a 4.67 K/BB. He limited left-handed batters to a paltry .189/.217/.323 batting line. In the rare occasions he had to face a right-handed batter, he more than held his own limiting them to a .219 batting average.

Edgin would last the full season even with inflammation in his elbow, which was originally diagnosed as bone spurs. In the ensuing Spring Training, Edgin had to shut it down as he needed Tommy John surgery. As a result, he would miss out on the Mets pennant run. As is typically the case, Edgin had a long rehabilitation road, and he would not appear again in the Majors until August 2016.

Fourteen of Edgin’s 16 appearances were scoreless. Between that and his being out of options, Edgin was set to be a part of the 2017 Opening Day roster. In the time he was up with the team, Edgin put together good numbers including a 114 ERA+. On April 28, 2017, he probably had his Mets career highlight.

With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Edgin was summoned to pitch to Bryce Harper. Edgin induced Harper to hit into a game ending 1-2-3 double play to preserve the Mets 7-5 lead and earn his second Major League save.

Unfortunately, he would hit the disabled list again in July, and at that point, his Mets career was effectively over. He finished his Mets career with the 22nd most appearances among relievers, and his 2014 season was one of the best seasons a Mets LOOGY ever had. He was a success story for a 30th round draft pick, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 66.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres
57. Johan Santana
58. Jenrry Mejia
59. Fernando Salas
60. Scott Schoeneweis
61. Dana Eveland
62. Drew Smith
63. Tim Peterson

64. Elmer Dessens
65. Robert Gsellman