Davey Johnson

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.

Ranking Mets Managers

Typically speaking, deciding who is “THE BEST” at something is a futile endeavor. After all, trying to apply objective measures to reach a subjective opinion is a concept somewhat at odds with itself.

In terms of baseball, it’s nearly impossible with the change of eras. Should Babe Ruth be considered the best ever when he played before integration? Should Barry Bonds be disqualified due to PEDs? Should we split the difference and say it’s Willie Mays?

Again, there’s just too many factors at play to determine who is THE BEST. To that end, we should look at this more as who’s in the discussion rather than who is atop the list.

In terms of the Mets, we know Tom Seaver is the best player to ever play for the team. That’s one of the rare instances where it’s clear-cut. It’s far from clear-cut on the manager side.

For 25 years, it was clearly Gil Hodges. He led the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series partially due to innovation. Hodges utilized platoons, and he might’ve been the first manager to utilize a five man rotation.

As we all know Hodges never got the chance to cement himself as the best manager ever as he suddenly died of a heart attack on the eve of the 1972 season. You can’t help but wonder what he could’ve done with the Mets getting Rusty Staub.

In 1984, the Mets hired Davey Johnson, who arguably went on to become the best manager in team history. In addition to winning the 1986 World Series, his teams never finished lower than second in the division.

Johnson was also the only Mets manager to win multiple division titles. In his tenure, his teams averaged 96 wins. It’s part of the reason why he has the most wins and highest winning percentage. Those were the Mets glory years, and he was at the helm.

Arguably, Hodges and Johnson are the Mets two best managers. However, there could be a case for Bobby Valentine.

Valentine is third in terms of wins and winning percentage. He came one year short of Johnson’s team record by having five consecutive winning seasons. However, notably, Valentine’s teams were not as loaded as Johnson’s.

Despite that, Valentine was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons. He’s the only Mets manager to lead his team to a postseason series victory in consecutive seasons. In fact, he’s the only one to do it in any two seasons.

Overall, that’s the top three, and people should feel comfortable ranking them as they see fit. There’s a justifiable reason to put them in any order from 1-3. That said, Hodges and Johnson have the edge having won a Word Series.

After that trio, it’s fair to say Willie Randolph was a clear fourth. In addition to his leading the Mets to the 2006 NLCS, he never had a losing record while amassing the second best winning percentage in team history. His hand in developing David Wright and Jose Reyes to not only reach their potential, but also handling the city should never be discounted.

Honestly, if that isn’t your 1-4, you’re simply doing it wrong.

Terry Collins has a losing record and the most losses in team history. He blew a World Series. He also unapologetically destroyed reliever careers (see Tim Byrdak, Jim Henderson) while admitting he didn’t want to develop young players like Michael Conforto.

Yogi Berra was the manager who led the Mets to their second pennant, but he also finished with a sub .500 career despite having a World Series contending type of roster for part of his tenure.

After that, well, just consider there are only six Mets managers with a winning record. Two of them, Bud Harrelson and Mickey Callaway, were not generally well regarded for their managerial abilities. After that, there’s a lot of bad, including Hall of Famers Casey Stengel and Joe Torre.

Through Mets history, it’s clear who the four best managers are even if the order isn’t nearly as clear. Past them, it’s an uninspiring debate among pretty poor choices.

In the end, your list is personal to you, and no one can quite tell you you’re right or wrong. That is unless you do something monumentally stupid like having Hodges outside the top three or putting Stengel on your list.

Short of that, everyone’s opinions are valid, and it’s a fun debate. And remember, that’s all this is – a fun debate. It’s nothing more than that because you can’t definitely prove one is better than the other.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 50 Sid Fernandez

Sid Fernandez, or as Mets fans came to know and love him, El Sid, had become a beloved left-handed pitcher who had a sneaky fastball which just seemed to rise after he released it. With that sneaky delivery, on any particular day, you could see a gem from him with fans hanging S from the rafters, and when those days came, it was pure magic.

For Fernandez, he had come to the Mets in 1984, and with so many promising young arms, he really had to prove himself. Prove himself he would, and better yet, he would have one of the most important outings in team history.

Fernandez didn’t make the Opening Day rotation out of the 1984 or 1985 seasons. However, when he got called up each season, he stuck, and he would prove he belonged. In 1984, he had a respectable 102 ERA+. In 1985, he would lead the league with a 9.5 K/9. Finally, in 1986, Fernandez would make the Opening Day rotation.

In that 1986 season, Fernandez was terrific matching Dwight Gooden with a team high 200 strikeouts. He would also be named an All-Star for the first time in his career. His best start of that season, and possibly his career was his July 11, 1986 start against the Braves. In that two-hit shut out, he would strike out nine batters.

While he had won a career high 16 games,  10+ strikeout games, shutouts, and was an All-Star, they all pale in comparison to what Fernandez did in the postseason.

After being a hard luck loser against the scuff-marking Mike Scott in Game 4 of the NLCS, Fernandez was moved to the bullpen in the World Series as Davey Johnson opted to go with just three starters. This led to Fernandez making three relief appearances in the World Series, which included a 2.1 inning stint in Game 7.

After the Mets epic comeback in Game 6, there was a rainout which allowed the Red Sox to turn to Bruce Hurst, who would’ve been the World Series MVP, instead of Oil Can Boyd. Making matters worse for the Mets, Ron Darling didn’t have it lasting just 3.2 innings with the Mets falling behind 3-0.

Fernandez entered with a runner on second and two outs. After walking Wade Boggs, he got Marty Barrett to fly out to end the inning. Fernandez completely subdued the Red Sox offense. In the bottom of the sixth, Lee Mazzilli pinch hit for him and would start the game tying rally. Ultimately, Fernandez earned a no decision, but more importantly, he would earn a World Series ring.

Fernandez would find himself an All-Star again in 1987. In making consecutive All-Star teams, he joined Gooden as the only multiple-time All Stars from that World Series rotation. Moreover, in terms of Mets history, Fernandez, Jerry Koosman, and Jon Matlack are the only left-handed Mets starters to make consecutive All-Star appearances. In his last All-Star appearance, Fernandez would earn the save.

Fernandez was again an important part of the Mets NL East winning club in 1988. During that season, Fernandez led the league in H/9 for the second time in his career. As a matter of fact, Fernandez has the third best career H/9 mark in Major League history trailing just Nolan Ryan, Clayton Kershaw, and Sandy Koufax. Sadly, he didn’t pitch well in his one start on over-extended rest, and the Mets lost that series in seven losing the NLCS for the first time in team history.

The 1989 season saw Fernandez have his second best season in a Mets uniform by ERA+ (115). That was despite his starting the season in the bullpen with the team due to the emergence of David Cone. Despite that, he was the best pitcher in the rotation leading the team in ERA+, strikeouts, wins, and winning percentage. He’d also have one of the best starts of his career ruined. His 16 strikeout effort went up in flames as Lonnie Smith hit a walk-off homer. Speaking of homers, never a slouch at the plate, Fernandez would hit his first and only career homer.

From there, the Mets great run was nearing its end, and Fernandez was starting to have some injuries pile up. He would deal with a broken wrist and some knee issues. While the Worst Team Money Could Buy was an epic disappointment, Fernandez was one of the few who did his job well. In that 1992 season, he was the best pitcher on the team with a 129 ERA+ going 14-11 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.067 WHIP, and an 8.1 K/9.

His Mets career was over after the 1993 season, a season where he suffered another knee injury. In total, he was the sixth ever Mets pitcher by WAR with the fifth most wins in team history falling two short of 100. He is also ranked third in WHIP and second in H/9 (again trailing Ryan).

He rates well in terms of strikeouts with the eighth best K/9 and the fourth most strikeouts. Really, Fernandez is all over the Mets all-time leaderboards including having the ninth best WPA. Through it all, Fernandez is certainly one of the best starters in team history, one of the most important, and very clearly, the best Mets player to ever wear the number 50.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 47 Jesse Orosco

Imagine trading a pitcher like Jerry Koosman, a man who was so important to your franchise winning its first ever World Series, and in return, you get Jesse Orosco, a man who would similarly be of vital importance to your team winning its second ever World Series. Somehow, the Mets accomplished this feat.

From 1979 – 1982, Orosco was figuring out his role and then establishing himself as a reliever. In 1983, he would really burst onto the scene with one of the truly great seasons a reliever has ever had. Arguably, it is the greatest season a Mets reliever has ever had.

In a feat relievers do not regularly achieve now, Orosco threw 110.0 innings. In Mets history, among pitchers who have thrown 100 innings in a season, Orosco’s 1.47 ERA is the best ever. He was so good that season, he was an All-Star, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. That’s the highest in Cy Young voting any Mets reliever has ever finished.

He’d also set team reliever records with 13 wins. Overall, he was 13-7 with 17 saves, a 1.47 ERA, and a 1.036 WHIP. With that, a Mets team who was about to turn the corner knew they had a terrific closer who could pitch at any point in the game.

For 1984, he would be that for a Mets team who went from under .500 to 90 wins and in contention. It would mark the second straight time Orosco would be named an All-Star. In 1985, he would be joined by Roger McDowell in the bullpen, and they would share closing duties. As it turns out, they could do more than that.

There were many great stories from that 1986 season. One of the craziest came on July 22, 1986. In the 10th inning of an extra inning game, catcher Ed Hearns was the last player on the bench. That became an issue when Eric Davis slid hard into third leading to Ray Knight coming up punching. The benches cleared leading to the ejection of Knight and Kevin Mitchell. This meant a pitcher was going to have to play the field.

Through the ingenuity of Davey Johnson, Orosco and McDowell split pitching duties. McDowell pitched to right-handed batters with Orosco in right field, and Orosco pitched to left-handed batters with McDowell in left field. In the 13th, Tony Perez would lined one the other way with Orosco fielding it cleanly.

In the 14th, Orosco reached via walk, and he would be one of the three runs which scored on Howard Johnson‘s go-ahead three run homer in an epic Mets victory. The length and drama of that game would be nothing compared to the postseason.

In the NLCS, Orosco would set Major League history. In that tight, epic series, Bob Ojeda was the only Mets starter to earn a victory. The other three wins were by Orosco. With that, Orosco would be the first and to date only reliever to ever earn three wins in a postseason series.

The biggest and most well known win was his last one. Initially, Orosco had blown the save in that game after allowing a homer to Billy Hatcher in the 14th. Orosco shook that off to pitch a scoreless 15th. When the Mets took the lead in the 16th on a three run rally which included an Orosco sacrifice bunt, it was on Orosco to send the Mets to the World Series.

The Astros would not go quietly scoring two runs. They had runners on first and second with two outs. As the story goes, Keith Hernandez came to the mound to threaten Orosco and Gary Carter if there was a fastball thrown to Kevin Bass. Carter always said he wanted Orosco to shake him off and only throw his slider. There wasn’t as Bass struck out to end the series.

The NLCS that seemingly no one could forget would become an afterthought after what was a storied World Series. The tired Orosco who was pushed to the limits in the NLCS would pitch four times in the World Series where he would again take part in crazy games.

In Game 6, he entered the eighth inning to bail McDowell out of a bases loaded two out jam. He’d be lifted for Lee Mazzilli in a rally where the Mets tied the game to set the stage for the two out heroics in the 10th. Orosco would play a much larger role in Game 7.

After the Red Sox pulled within 6-5 in the eighth, Orosco relieved McDowell. With his best reliever on the mound, and the Mets having a lead, there was no way Johnson was going to lift Orosco if his turn to bat came. As luck would have it, the Mets rallied in that eighth to add insurance runs, and Orosco came to the plate in a sacrifice situation.

That’s when Orosco pulled the old butcher boy and hit an RBI single up the middle to extend the Mets lead to 8-5. Believe it or not, that was the last hit and the last RBI of that series. Orosco made sure of that as he struck out Marty Barrett to end the series throwing his glove up into the heavens:

We are all still waiting for that glove to land. According to legend, it may land when Darryl Strawberry finally rounds the bases after that long home run.

In that postseason, Orosco was 3-0 with two saves, and a 1.98 ERA. He was the man on the mound when the Mets won the pennant, and he was the man on the mound when the Mets won the World Series. It is somewhat fitting as he was the man who was obtained for Koosman.

Orosco’s Mets career would end after the 1987 season as he was sent to the Dodgers in a three team trade which netted the Mets Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst. For a brief moment, he was with the Mets again after the end of the 1999 season, but he was traded for Joe McEwing (who also wore 47) before the 2000 season began.

That gives an indication how long Orosco pitched. As it stood, he made more appearances than any other pitcher in Major League history. In terms of Mets history, he ranks sixth, one behind the man who was sent to Minnesota to obtain him. Orosco is also fourth in saves being the first Mets pitcher to ever eclipse 100 saves. He also has the third best ERA+ and ERA in team history. Overall, he is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 47.

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

Miracle Bracket: (3) Cleon Jones vs. (6) Jerry Grote

(3) Cleon Jones – He caught a fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson, fell to a knee, and the 1969 Mets were World Series champions. In that series, it was his foot which was hit which led to Gil Hodges bringing the shoe polished ball from the dugout. Was the best position player on that 1969 team, and his 7.0 WAR that season lasted as the team single-season record for nearly 30 years. During 1973 run to the division title, starting the key relay in the famous “Ball on the Wall” Play. Hit .284/.356/.444 in postseason play.

(6) Jerry Grote – Great defensive catcher and receiver who helped pitching staff lead Mets to 1969 World Series and 1973 pennant. Second all-time in Mets history in defensive WAR. Johnny Bench famously said if he and Grote were teammates, Bench would have played third base. Two time All-Star.

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2000 Game Recap: Pratt Caps Off Grand Comeback

If you thought this game went long, you were right. In fact, this back-and-forth 4:09 game between the Mets and Dodgers was the longest nine inning game in Mets history. That also makes it the longest Mets nine inning victory in team history.

Melvin Mora was rushed back off the DL after Rey Ordonez‘s injury, and he found himself atop the lineup and playing center. If there was any rust, Mora did not show it hitting a lead-off single, and stealing second. On his stolen base attempt, former Met Todd Hundley threw it away allowing Mora to go to third. That allowed him to score easily on Edgardo Alfonzo‘s RBI single.

The Mets did not enjoy the lead for very long. In the third, the Dodgers broke through against Bobby Jones. The trouble started with a Todd Hollandsworth lead-off walk. Hollandsworth stole second, but Jones almost got out of the inning after getting the next two Dodgers out.

Jones could not get Shawn Green out who hit an RBI single and advanced to second on a Mora error. Green would then score on an Eric Karros two run homer. That homer gave the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Dodgers starter Eric Gagne would only last four plus. After he allowed an Alfonzo double and Mike Piazza RBI single, he was lifted for Matt Herges. While Herges was relief in the fifth getting the Dodgers out of the jam, he was not that in the sixth.

After quick strikeouts of Kurt Abbott and Jones, Herges consecutive singles to Mora and Derek Bell. On the Bell infield single, Dave Hansen threw it away allowing Mora and Bell to go to second and third. That allowed both runners to score on the ensuing Alfonzo RBI single which gave the Mets a 4-3 lead.

At that point, Jones had pitched reasonably well. Over five innings, he had allowed just three runs on six hits and two walks. At 87 pitches, you understood why he was sent out there for the bottom of the sixth. Still, after former Met Hundley led off the inning with a double, he got the quick hook with Dennis Cook coming into the game to face the left-handed Hansen.

Davey Johnson countered to putting Kevin Elster into the game as a pinch hitter. As an aside, that’s a sentence which could have been written a decade ago back when Hundley, Johnson, and Elster were all Mets.

Elster singled putting runners at the corners. Geronimo Berroa then pinch hit for Herges, and he drove home Chad Kreuter, who pinch ran for an injured Hundley. Cook finally got a lefty in Hollandsworth, and he struck him out.

With the known right-handed batters coming up, Bobby Valentine brought in Pat Mahomes, who has been really overworked of late. Mahomes allowed an RBI single to Mark Grudzielanek before retiring Gary Sheffield to end the inning. With that, the Mets 4-3 lead had become a 5-4 deficit.

That’s where the score was in the ninth when the Dodgers brought in Jeff Shaw to close out the game. Mike Piazza would get the inning started with a lead-off single on the first pitch Shaw threw. With the slow-footed Piazza representing the tying run, Valentine sent in Jay Payton to pinch run.

After Robin Ventura walked on four pitches, Payton would score the tying run on a Todd Zeile RBI single. That also had the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Dodgers not wanting to lose the game brought in Terry Adams to relieve Shaw.

With the go-ahead run on second with no outs, Valentine made the curious decision of having Joe McEwing pinch hit for Benny Agbayani to bunt the runners over. Instead, McEwing would strike out. After Kurt Abbott walked, Jon Nunnally struck out.

That put the game on Mora’s shoulders. He had a tough seven pitch at-bat where he drew a walk forcing home the go-ahead run. That brought up John Franco‘s spot in the batting order. With Piazza already out of the game with Payton pinch running for him, Valentine sent up Todd Pratt. Pratt would deliver a grand slam to put the Mets up 10-5.

Armando Benitez entered the game in the ninth, and he quickly shut the door. With a victory in this long, long game, the Mets have put themselves in a position to have a winning road trip with one game remaining. That’s not too bad considering how poorly things went in San Diego to start this insane three city two time zone road trip.

Game Notes: Ordonez is expected to miss at least six weeks. Mora and Abbott are expected to split the shortstop duties in his absence. Today, Mora was in center, and Abbott was at short.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 36 Jerry Koosman

If there was going to be a 2020 season, we would have seen Jerry Koosman become the first ever Mets player who did not need to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame to have his number retired. That makes him arguably a Mets Mt. Rushmore player. Certainly, it properly denotes how important he was to the franchise.

Koosman gave a glimpse into the type of big pitcher he would become in his rookie year. Despite having a better year. he narrowly finished behind Johnny Bench in Rookie of the Year voting, and he would be named an All-Star. In that All-Star Game, he’d strike out Carl Yastrzemski to earn a save in the 1968 All-Star Game. That was nothing compared to what Koosman had in store the following year.

After having a great rookie year, Koosman established himself not just as the Mets number two starter behind Tom Seaver, but he would also establish himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. Koosman always rose to the challenge and to the big moment.

In that 1969 season, people talk about different moments. For example, there was the black cat game. What was not talked about as often is Koosman’s complete game victory beginning that series which led to the sweep and the Mets pulling within a half game. All told, he was an All-Star again, and he had another great year leading the Mets to their first ever postseason.

Before that postseason, Koosman was already doing great things. His 1968 ERA of 2.08 was the best ever in team history, a record which stands to this day among left-handed pitchers. His 19 wins that year was then the most ever by a Mets starter. It’s still the 10th most in team history. His 17 complete games is still the most by anyone not named Seaver. His seven shut outs were only eclipsed by Dwight Gooden‘s famed 1985 season.

If you look towards the WPA stat, Koosman’s 1969 season was then the second best in team history just trailing Seaver and his 1969 season. His 1969 season also ranks up among the Mets best ever seasons for a starting pitcher. That was before you take into account his work in the World Series.

Heading into that 1969 World Series, no one expected the Mets to win. No one. When Seaver dropped Game 1, there was concern the Mets could get swept. After all, with the talk about the Mets vaunted rotation, the 109 win Baltimore Orioles had Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Mike Cuellar.Things forever changed in Game 2.

Koosman out-pitched McNally. He picked up the win after allowing just one run on two hits. With that start, Koosman showed the Mets pitching made that team just as good as the Orioles perhaps better. He started the momentum which led to the Mets going back to Shea Stadium tied. He would get the ball again in Game 5.

Koosman would help the Mets win that Game 5 in two ways. First and foremost, Koosman again pitched a big game. In his complete game victory, he allowed three earned on just five hits. There was also his role in the shoe polish incident. When the ball came off Cleon Jones foot and came rolling into the dugout, Gil Hodges had Koosman swipe the ball against his cleat. Jones was awarded first, and then Donn Clendenon homered to get the Mets back into the game. The Mets would take a 5-3 lead, and when Davey Johnson flew out, the Mets were World Series Champions:

Koosman was never as good again as he was in his first two years, but he was still a well above average pitcher. Part of the reason for his taking a step back was getting a liner to the mouth during batting practice knocking teeth out of his mouth and needing his mouth to be wired shut. He would also start to deal with a sore arm. Perhaps in another era, he would have had his arm treated, but back then, pitchers pitched through those issues.

Still, he would show his mettle as a big game pitcher. In 1973, after his struggles sent him to the bullpen for a stint, he would re-emerge to be a top of the rotation pitcher. Over the final two months of that season as the Mets charged to take over the NL East, Koosman was 6-4 with a 2.03 ERA. During that stretch, he set a then team record of 31.2 consecutive scoreless innings.

Koosman got the ball in a pivotal Game 3. In his complete game victory, he dominated the 99 win Cincinnati Reds allowing two earned on eight hits while striking out nine. He was also 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. In that game, the Reds tried to intimidate and bully the Mets with Pete Rose barrelling over Bud Harrelson at second. Instead, it was Koosman and the Mets sending the message with their 9-2 victory.  Once again, Koosman and the Mets shocked the world in winning the pennant.

Even though the Mets won Game 2, he was not his characteristic big game self. We did see that pitcher return in Game 5. Koosman picked up the win after holding the Athletics to no runs on just three hits over 6.1 innings. That sent the series back to Oakland with the Mets up 3-2. Unfortunately, there would be no second ring.

Even with no second ring, Koosman had one last big year left in him in a Mets uniform. In 1976, the last year the Mets would have a winning record before the team got rid of M. Donald Grant, Koosman was 20-10 with a 2.69 ERA. Somehow, this was the first time he received votes for the Cy Young. He finished second in the voting behind the winner Randy Jones.

That was it for the joy in Metsville. While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he would be the last Mets pitcher to lose 20 games. That was proof positive of the axiom you have to be a good pitcher to lose 20 games as Koosman had a 107 ERA+ and led the league in K/9.

While Koosman survived the Midnight Massacre, he was traded after the following season. That was partially the result of a trade demand. In that trade, Koosman would prove to be a bridge to the next Mets World Series as the Mets received Jesse Orosco from the Minnesota Twins as part of the trade.

As noted above, Koosman is going to have his number retired by the Mets. By WAR, he is the third best pitcher in Mets history and the fourth best overall. He has the third most wins, and he is ranked all over the Mets top 10 pitching categories. Overall, he is easily the best Met to wear the number 36.

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

 

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 21 Cleon Jones

When it comes to the storied past of the Mets turning the corner from losers to World Series contenders, Cleon Jones is as an important figure as nearly any other Mets player on that team. Really, Jones was in the middle of everything which happened on those teams.

For a while, it didn’t seem like that was going to be the case. Even with his finished fourth in the 1966 Rookie of the Year vote, he had not done much to distinguish himself. Then, in 1967, the Mets got a manager in Gil Hodges who believed in him, and at the end of the year, the Mets obtained his close childhood friend Tommie Agee. With them in the fold, Jones would turn the corner in a big way in 1968

In that 1968 season, Jones, now a left fielder, had the type of breakout year you desperately want to see from 25 year old players. He set career highs in nearly every offensive category. Mostly, he made the transition from promising young player to reliable everyday player. He would then have one of the great seasons in Mets history in 1969.

In 1969, Jones would post a 7.0 WAR. At that time, it was easily the Mets single-season record. It was a record which stood for 27 years. Fifty-one years has passed since that season, and with players like David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Gary Carter, that mark has dropped from one to seven. Even if numerically it ranks seventh, Jones’ 1969 season still remains the greatest single-season a Mets position player has ever had.

During that year, Jones would make the All-Star team, becoming the Mets first left fielder to accomplish the feat. He would hit .340/.422/.482 with 25 2B, four 3B, 12 homers, 75 RBI, and 16 stolen bases, and he led the team in nearly every offensive category. He would then power the Mets in the NLCS. In that three game sweep against the Braves, he ranked second on the team, trailing just his friend Agee, in OPS.

While Jones had a great NLCS, he will forever be remembered for the World Series. It may not be as remembered now, but Jones really struggled in that series against the Orioles great pitching. It wasn’t until Game 5 that he really had an impact. In the famous shoe polish play, Jones was the batter hit by the pitch, and he was the one who began arguing he should go to first.

Jones being awarded first would allow him to score on the Donn Clendenon homer pulling the Mets to within 3-2. They’d tie the score later, and it was Jones with a lead-off double in the sixth which began the series winning rally. In fact, it’s a footnote lost in Mets history, but Jones is the first Mets player to score a World Series winning run. Even if he’s not recognized as such, we all know it was him who caught the final out:

In Mets history, we talk about Art Shamsky and Endy Chavez, but if you really think about it, that might really be the greatest catch in Mets history. Yes, it was a routine fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson, but it was the catch which secured the final out of what remains the greatest upset in World Series history.

Jones remained a good and productive  player for the Mets for a few years, but he would never again be able to repeat his 1969 success. That is even with him having a very good 1971 season where he had a 4.8 WAR. In that year, he set a career high with six triples. However, it would not be until the 1973 season we would see his next truly impactful play in Mets history. It was called the “Ball on the Wall” play.

On September 20, 1973, the Mets were attempting their improbable run to a division title, and they trailed the first place Pittsburgh Pirates by 1.5 games in the standings. Entering this five game series, the Mets had trailed the Pirates by 2.5 games. Even after dropping the first game, they could claim first place by sweeping the remaining games.

The Mets took the next two games, and they rallied to force extra innings in this game. In the top of the 13th, Pirates rookie Dave Augustine hit what looked like a go-ahead two run homer. However, much like Todd Zeile‘s ball in the 2000 World Series, it hit the top of the wall and came back into play.

Jones tracked the play perfectly, and he made a perfect relay throw to Wayne Garrett, who got it there in plenty of time to get Richie Zisk out at the plate. It was about as well executed a relay as you will ever see, and the Mets would win the game on a walk-off single by Ron Hodges. Much like other times in Mets history, Jones’ other contribution was overlooked with his hitting an RBI single which first got the Mets on the board.

The Mets finished off the Pirates in that game and that series. They took first place, and they never looked back. Of note, Jones hit six homers over the course of that final month of the season which saw the Mets go from 5.5 games back to their second ever division title. Again, Jones was good in the NLCS hitting .300/.364/.400 in the Mets five game upset of the Big Red Machine.

Jones saved his best for last. In the winner-take-all Game 5, he was 3-for-5 with a run, double, and two RBI. One interesting fact is after scoring the winning run of the 1969 World Series, Jones would drive in the winning run of the 1973 NLCS meaning he was involved in the winning runs in consecutive series.

Jones was very good in the World Series. In fact, he was second to just Rusty Staub in team OPS. Unfortunately, despite his efforts as well as those from his teammates, the Mets would lose that series in seven games.

Jones had a good 1974 season before things got so bad it was past the point of reconciliation. There was an incident during his rehab from knee surgery, and despite charges being dropped, M. Donald Grant levied the largest ever fine in Mets history against him. Things deteriorated, and after a 1975 altercation with Yogi Berra, he was released.

That wasn’t his first altercation with a manager as he was infamously lifted from a game in 1969 by Hodges, but things only improved from there. For some reason or another, probably Jones’ knee or Grant being Grant, that was it.

When Jones left, he was definitively the best left fielder in Mets history, a title he still holds to this day. He won a World Series and another pennant with the team, and he played a vital role in both. He is prominent in the Mets record books including his having the fourth most hits, 10th most doubles, and fourth most triples. He is in the Mets Hall of Fame, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 21.

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

2000 Game Recap: Franco Infield Single Walks Off 1-0 Victory

The Mets have been winning lately on the strength of their offense by battering opposing teams. During this seven game winning streak, they have been averaging eight runs per game, and they have put up 10+ runs in three separate games. Today, we found out they could win with their pitching and defense.

This was supposed to be Rick Reed‘s start, but he was held out after he took a ball off the palm of his non-pitching hand. In his place was Pat Mahomes, who for the second time this season has stepped up with a very good start. Much like his last emergency start against the Dodgers, he went into the sixth. The difference is in this 5.2 inning start, he allowed no runs.

Unfortunately for Mahomes, he was once again not rewarded with a win. This time, it was because the Mets offense which had recently exploded couldn’t get out of their own way.

In the first, the Mets loaded the bases against Darren Dreifort, but they wouldn’t push a run across as Mike Piazza hit into an inning ending double play. In the third, Piazza came up with runners on second and third with two out, but he would fly out to end the inning. Obviously, this is just presented as a representation of what happened. With how great Piazza has been this month, there is absolutely no need to finger point in his direction.

The problems were deeper than Piazza. There were some base running gaffes too. After Todd Zeile hit a one out double in the fourth, he made the mistake of trying to go to third on a grounder to short. The former Met Kevin Elster made the heads up play getting Zeile out at third effectively killing that rally.

For a moment, it seemed like the inability to come through in the clutch would hinder a well pitched game by first Mahomes. Dennis Cook may have gotten out of the sixth, but he immediately got into trouble issuing a lead-off walk to Eric Karros.

After a Todd Hundley single, Turk Wendell came into the game, and he masterfully navigated his way out of the jam. First, Adrian Beltre laid down a sacrifice moving the runners up to second and third. Wendell then struck out Elster to put the Mets one out away from getting out of it. After walking the pinch hitting Dave Hansen, he got Devon White to keep the game scoreless.

After that, neither the Mets nor the Dodgers threatened in the eighth. Wendell had pitched a clean eighth, and Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Mets a chance to get the walk-off win.

Things got started really well for the Mets when Robin Ventura hit a lead-off double against Terry Adams. With that being the winning run, Bobby Valentine pinch ran Melvin Mora to get the much faster runner out there. For a second, that appeared to be a disastrous move.

After Jon Nunnally walked, Jay Payton again hit a groundball to short. Like he had done earlier when he picked off Zeile, Elster threw over to Beltre. Maybe it was the speed of Mora, or maybe it was an umpiring crew who wanted to get home, but Mora was ruled safe loading the bases.

Davey Johnson was irate, and he got tossed from the game. For his part, Beltre was unsure as to whether he had his foot on the bag on the force play, but he was positive he got the tag down. The umpires felt differently.

Elster would not be denied going home on a Rey Ordonez grounder. That brought up Matt Franco. He hit a comebacker which had the potential to turn into an inning ending 1-2-3 double play. Instead, the ball tipped off of Adams’ glove giving the Mets a walk-off 1-0 victory.

The Mets were far from perfect in this game. Unlike the other games against lesser competition, they were stymied time and again, and the Dodgers made them pay for their mistakes. Still, the combination of the Mets terrific bullpen, and a team with near unmatched resolve pulled this game out to continue their winning streak to eight straight games.

Game Notes: This was a makeup game of the April 6th game which was snowed out. Benitez was credited for the win, his first of the season.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

(3) Cleon Jones vs. (14) Donn Clendenon

(3) Cleon Jones – He caught a fly ball off the bat of Davey Johnson, fell to a knee, and the 1969 Mets were World Series champions. In that series, it was his foot which was hit which led to Gil Hodges bringing the shoe polished ball from the dugout. Was the best position player on that 1969 team, and his 7.0 WAR that season lasted as the team single-season record for nearly 30 years. During 1973 run to the division title, starting the key relay in the famous “Ball on the Wall” Play. Hit .284/.356/.444 in postseason play.

(14) Donn Clendenon – Acquired from the Montreal Expos at the 1969 trade deadline in the Mets first ever trade deadline acquisition with the team as a buyer. Gave a speech to team after they lost Game 1 of the World Series helping the team rally to win four straight. First ever Mets player to be named World Series MVP. All three home runs in that series came with the Mets behind or the game tied. Had a somewhat forgotten strong 1970 campaign.

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