Howard Johnson

deGrom With Run Support Is Unbeatable

The anticipated pitchers’ duel that was Jacob deGrom and Luis Castillo didn’t disappoint with there being a combined six hits against the two pitchers.

For deGrom, he further cemented his Cy Young case. Over 7.0 innings, he limited the Reds to just four singles. He walked none while striking out nine. The best way to sum it up was he was deGrom on that mound.

As good as deGrom was, Castillo was nearly his equal. He was getting the Mets to pound the ball into the ground. As a result, over his first 5.1 innings, he allowed just one hit. On a night where he needed to be perfect to beat deGrom, he was nearly perfect.

Nearly.

As noted by Keith Hernandez during the broadcast, Castillo made just two mistakes on the night. The first came with one out in the sixth:

That Jeff McNeil homer gave the Mets a 1-0 lead. It was his 16th homer in the second half as he’s focused more on power than contact much like he did in Binghamton last year.

At the time, most thought that was all the run support deGrom would get. After all, the Mets offense has been dormant for well over a year when deGrom pitches. On top of that, Castillo was great.

As great as he was, he’d make his second mistake in the seventh. Like McNeil, Amed Rosario would make him pay.

That two run homer gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. That’s two more runs than deGrom needed.

What was interesting was after the seventh, it appeared Mickey Callaway was set to pull deGrom even though he only threw 96 pitches. While we don’t know if deGrom said something or Brodie texted something, with what’s on the line, it was a surprise move.

Fortunately, the Reds went to their bullpen in the eighth, and Pete Alonso would take advantage hitting his 50th homer of the season.

50!

The list of players who have hit 50 in their rookie year stands at Alonso and Aaron Judge. With two more games in this ballpark and the Mets playing the Marlins next, you almost have to believe Alonso’s going to break Judge’s rookie record of 52.

On another note, the 50 homers passes Mark McGwire for the rookie first base record. It was also Alonso’s 81st extra bass hit surpassing the single season record held by Carlos Beltran (2006) and Howard Johnson.

With respect to the game and the Mets Wild Card hopes, the homer gave the Mets a 5-0 lead. That made it a whole lot easier to go to the bullpen allowing deGrom to save his bullets for his final two (or maybe three) starts.

In the eighth, Brad Brach allowed a two out single before getting lifted for Luis Avilan with Joey Votto due up. After Avilan walked Votto, things were on the verge of getting dicey with Eugenio Suarez due up. Given his home run propensity and Diaz having hit 48 homers this year, Edwin Diaz was a very curious choice even if a homer only makes it 5-3.

Diaz responded to the challenge by striking out Suarez.

With the Mets into their bullpen, even with a 5-0 lead, insurance runs couldn’t hurt. They got that when Brandon Nimmo scores from first on a McNeil double increasing the Mets lead to 6-0.

McNeil went to third on the throw. After an intentional walk to Alonso and a defensive indifference, Juan Lagares singled home McNeil to make it 7-0. Michael Conforto, who had been taking better at-bats in the game walking twice, snapped an 0-for-21 stretch with an RBI single to make it 8-0.

After Jeurys Familia allowed a monster shot to Aristides Aquino, the Mets won 8-1. That’s three wins in a row with a favorable schedule. The only issue is if this run can continue, and if so, will it be enough.

Game Notes: Cubs lost to the Cardinals in the afternoon, and the Mets now trail them by 1.0 games, but they’re still three games in the loss column behind the Brewers.

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Lose Cool And Opportunity

Well, it’s not the Mets unless they do something completely bizarre while also completely blowing an opportunity. Still, this seemed like a new one for the Mets:

1. First things first, we should be talking about Pete Alonso. He already broke Darryl Strawberry‘s rookie home run record, and he now has his sights set on the single season record shared by Carlos Beltran and Todd Hundley. He also has his sights on the single season extra base hit mark (80) shared by Beltran and Howard Johnson.

2. What Alonso is doing this year is truly special, and more than anything he needs to be commended. He also needs to be commended for responding for a subpar May with a big June. More than the homers or anything else, that’s special.

3. Of course, we are not talking about Alonso because Mickey Callaway blew up at a Tim Healey of Newsday, and Jason Vargas challenged him to a fight while needing to be held back by Carlos Gomez and an injured Noah Syndergaard.

4. Callaway completely and utterly overreacted to Healey, and as the manager, he can’t do that. There’s no excuses even if the media is out there gunning for his job. As for Vargas, well, it is good to see this team is willing to fight for him, but needing to be held back is taking it way too far.

5. After the incident, the media members took their rounds discussing the altercation. The most eye opening statements came from Mike Puma of the New York Post who said Callaway is a puppet just following orders, inclusive of the bullpen. He also said he thinks Callaway was trying to get fired.

6. On that front, it’s bizarre how the media believes Callaway is a puppet making no decisions, and yet, they want him fired, and they’re not pursuing the answers to the questions they want answered. As a fan, we don’t know anything because it’s not at all being reported.

7. With respect to the blown game, Seth Lugo was pushed too far. He needed to be pulled after the 20 pitch seventh. He didn’t have it, and you got a clean inning out of him. Going beyond that was too greedy. Normally, this is where you criticize Callaway, but after Puma’s comments, who knows anymore?

8. On the bullpen, Brooks Pounders, Chris Flexen, Wilmer Font, and Stephen Nogosek combined to pitch eight scoreless innings in the series. That is a huge accomplishment, especially with the Cubs having the fourth best offense in the National League.

9. While you may want to attribute some of this to Phil Regan, as well as Edwin Diaz‘s clean inning, it would be surprising if this was all because of his working with the staff over a few days and not just things Dave Eiland had been working on with them.

10. With respect to Eiland and Chuck Hernandez, they join Travis d’Arnaud and Keon Broxton as scapegoats for an ill conceived roster. We will see how much further the scapegoating goes as the season progresses. What makes the scapegoating even worse was Brodie Van Wagenen’s refusal to accept any personal responsibility for the failures of the team. That’s callow especially when you’re firing two people.

11. One of the interesting tidbits which emerged after Eiland’s firing was how the pitching staff was frustrated with Wilson Ramos. The pitch framing stats shows part of the reason. You also see it when he seemingly doesn’t even bother on some passed balls and wild pitches. If he’s going to be this way behind the plate, he needs to hit much more than he is.

12. While respect to Zack Wheeler, this is the time of the year he typically turns things around. July is his second best month of his career, and his second half ERA is more than a full run lower than his first half ERA. With the way things are going, it seems like the has time to really raise his trade value.

13. Going back to Diaz, we already know how he’s used it dictated by the front office. Once again Callaway was left holding the bag while the reporters did not ask the specific question whether he was allowed to use Diaz for more than four outs. If you think Callaway is a puppet, the questions need to be asked accordingly.

14. Too much was made of Sunday’s lineup. Players need days off, and Cole Hamels was going. In addition to that, the Mets had Jacob deGrom. You can fly with the defense first lineup in these situations, especially if the team is just going to blow the lead in his starts anyway.

15. Jeff McNeil continues to show just how valuable he is. He played three positions well, hit a homer, and he deked Anthony Rizzo into a TOOBLAN to get Lugo out of a jam. This guy is a real baseball player who is not getting nearly enough attention.

16. The fact McNeil and Michael Conforto were not in the top 20 in outfield voting was a really bad job by Mets fans. On the topic of Conforto, he is as unappreciated a player as there is in baseball and really among this fanbase.

17. Todd Frazier went from a .164/.179/.291 batting line to a .267/.357/.453 batting line with a 1.3 WAR. That is a remarkable turnaround, and it is one of the few things which has kept this team (barely) afloat.

18. With respect to Frazier his throwing his bat in disgust on a homer shows how much the ball is juiced as well as what happens when the ball is blowing out in Wrigley.

19. It’s funny how completely in disarray the Mets have been before and after Sandy Alderson. Say what you want about Sandy, but he was able to control message, deflect attention, and he was able to make the Mets seem like a well run organization. Now that he’s gone, the team looks like a Mickey Mouse operation all over again.

20. The real problem with this team is Jeff Wilpon. Instead of calls for Callaway’s head, we need to have more and more articles and media attention criticizing him. If the attention is on Callaway for following orders, all you’re doing is throwing jabs at Jeff’s designated punching bag.

Congratulations Pete Alonso

One of the burdens for a first time dad is figuring out just how you can make your child a Mets fan. The Yankees have long owned New York, they win, and they always have the bigger stars. As a parent, you make do with what you have.

Back in 1983, that was Darryl Strawberry.

Strawberry was the biggest thing to happen to the Mets since seemingly Tom Seaver. He was the first overall pick of the 1980 draft, and he was hailed as the black Ted Williams. He’d be called up in 1983, and he’s actually live up to the hype that year.

Strawberry electrifying baseball and the Mets made selling the team easy to young impressionable baseball fans. The ensuing run for the team made it all the easier. While we talk about players like Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Carter, and justifiably so, Strawberry was the first to burst onto the scene and give everyone a glimpse into what would soon be.

Some of Strawberry’s Mets rookie records still stand today. That includes his 26 homers, which was 26 if his still team record 252 homers as a Met.

The latter still stands, but for who knows how long. In today’s 10-2 route over the Cubs, Pete Alonso hit his 26th homer of the season tying him with Strawberry atop the Mets all-time rookie leaderboard:

With 85 games remaining in the season, Alonso is not just assured to surpass Strawberry, he’s going to obliterate the record. In fact, Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season home run record (41) is in jeopardy.

Other records like Beltran’s and Howard Johnson‘s 80 extra base hits or Mike Piazza‘s .614 SLG may fall as well. Seeing how these power records are in jeopardy, you understand why Alonso’s at-bats have become must see TV. You have to stop to watch him hit because you don’t know what’ll happen next.

Combine that with his being a great teammate, and his doing fun Step Brothers spoofs with Jeff McNeil, you see how he and his epic home run blasts have made him a fan favorite. Much like Strawberry, you not only see how he provides hope for the future, but you also have a seminal figure who makes it cool to be a Mets fan, which is a relief to fathers everywhere.

So, with him hitting his 26th homer congratulations to tying a record which had stood for over 35 years and a record which exists for a franchise which is 57 years old. More than that, congratulations are in order for being a terrific ballplayer whose skills are only surpassed by being the teammate he is. Overall, congratulations to Alonso for being Alonso. As we see, that’s a very special thing to be.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Player’s Weekend Jerseys We Would Like To Have Seen

For the second straight year, Seth Lugo has the best Player’s Weekend jersey with “Quaterrican.”  Seeing that jersey as well as some others we will see over the course of this weekend coupled with the color players from Mets past, it does not you wonder which jerseys Mets players from years past would have selected.  On that front, the Mets bloggers offer some of the jerseys we would have like to have seen.

Michael Baron (nym.news)

Tom Seaver. “THE FRANCHISE.”

Second place is Gary Carter. “KID.”

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Marv Throneberry

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

Franklin Gutierrez, who was a Met for ten minutes, was nicknamed “Death to Flying Things”. I’m sorry but the only two things that could top that would have been Richie Hebner using a middle finger emoji, or anything Willie Montanez would have come up with.

Also, did you know that George Foster‘s nickname was “Yahtzee”? I would buy that.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I like seeing the nicknames we don’t learn about as matter of course, the ones that are personal or known more in the clubhouse than in the public. So ideally, Tom Seaver would have been SPANKY, Willie Mays BUCK and Howard Johnson SHEIKH.

Also, though it would have been hard to resist CHOO-CHOO for Clarence Coleman, I’d like to believe the catcher of few words from the 1962 Mets would have gone with BUB. And given that it was 1962, I could only hope everything was properly spelled.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

George Theodore

Mets Daddy

Looking back, a Darryl Strawberry “Straw” jersey would have been hilarious for the noted coke problems of that team.  It would have been funny to see Paul Lo Duca wear a “Captain Red Ass” jersey.  Funny, but not likely to happen.

Ultimately, the jersey I would have liked to have seen could have been done this year.  After all, what would have been better than seeing Jacob deGrom opting to chose “Sidd Finch” for his jersey?

The answer to the rhetorical question is reading the blogs from the writers who are so generous in contributing their time.  Certainly,t hey all have stories to tell about these and many more players.  In fact, they may have some nicknames all of their own, but to find that out, you will have to visit those sites.

Meet The Mets Fan: ESPN Radio’s Matt Markus

The Mets Fan

My name is Matt Markus and I am a sports radio talk show host in the Lehigh Valley, PA. Phillies country.

How You Became a Mets Fan

Growing up in the 80s my dad was/is a Mets fan and I latched on really easily.

Favorite Mets Player

HoJo was my favorite player growing up, but I’d have to go with David Wright. I loved watching him grow as a player and the leadership he has shown. His struggles have only endeared himself to us fans ever more.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

The Mets went to the Series while I was in college. Being at Seton Hall, I was so close to the action. Although in defeat that run is up there for me, as well as 2015. The Johan Santana no-no has to be tops though right?

Message to Mets Fans

I still believe Mickey Callaway can be the guy to take this team to new heights. There have been more than enough growing pains but at the end of the day the guys need to produce. The hitters need to hit, the fielders need to field, and the closer needs to close. If that starts to happen. this team can be fine. The hole is too big for this year, but if they hold on to their Aces and jettison some of the dead weight while calling up some young guys, it can be fun again.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Next Mets Hall of Famer

In what is a yearly tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a fan vote over which player should be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of FameFor a number of reasons, the Mets do not hold such a vote for their fanbase, but in vein of what the Cardinals are doing, the Mets Bloggers tackle the issue of who should be the next Mets great inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame:

Joe Maracic(Loud Egg)

What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.

The next player would have to be David Wright, I’m guessing.

Maybe Beltran

Michael Baron (MLB)

I do agree on the Nelson Doubleday nomination. He was a transformative owner for this franchise and single-handedly changed the direction, brand, and reputation of the club by forcing the Piazza trade. But it’s hard to see it happening while the Wilpons own the team.

Having said that, the next logical candidate to me is David Wright. He is among a true handful of players who have served as the identity for the on-field product. Up until age 30, he was among the top third baseman in baseball history (which some would be shocked to learn), and he has served through thick and thin as the voice of this franchise, earning the respect of both current and former teammates in the process.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Reflexively I thought “Edgardo Alfonzo.” Then I checked to see if Ed Kranepool and Rusty Staub were already in the Mets Hall of Fame. They are. So I’ll stick with Edgardo Alfonzo. More hits and RBIs than any other Met in a postseason, and that doesn’t technically include his “Game 163” heroics. Excellent everyday third baseman in 1997 and 1998. Moved to second base in 1999 to accommodate Robin Ventura, forming The Best Infield Ever. Mentioned *by name* in Mike Piazza‘s Hall of Fame speech. Didn’t appear to ruin any Mets prospects managing the Brooklyn Cyclones last season. Forever underrated by everyone unlucky enough to not be in a knowledgeable Mets fan’s orbit.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Nelson Doubleday belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame, but I seriously doubt the Wilpons would ever be s selfless to do the right thing here.

The real tragedy isn’t that Nelson Doubleday isn’t the majority owner of the Mets anymore. He might have sold the team anyway, as his children did not wish to be involved with the franchise. Instead, it is the misconception that the 1980-1986 period of Mets history wasn’t his legacy. Whether its internal revisionist history mandated by current ownership or a myth enabled by certain go-along, get-along journalists, that section of Mets history should be known as “The Doubleday Era.” It was Nelson Doubleday who came to the rescue when Shea Stadium became a ghost town. He was the man who saved the Mets.

Doubleday should have been inducted a long time ago…

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I’m in full agreement here with Doubleday.

David Wright is the obvious choice, and there aren’t a lot of dark horses. But the one I’ll give you is Edgardo Alfonzo. Universally loved, one of the best players on a World Series participant, and also worked for the Mets post retirement.

On FAFIF, I recently wrote about Edgardo Alfonzo’s induction being overdue, also mentioning Howard Johnson and Bobby Valentine as worthy, so let’s get them each in.

Amazing to me that the Mets have never so honored a second baseman. In addition to Fonzie, Ron Hunt, Felix Millan and Wally Backman all merit serious consideration. If we’re defense-minded, Doug Flynn, too.

In general, the Mets HOF is an underutilized asset. There’s no good reason not to make annual selections. I understand being somewhat stingy with retired numbers. This can and should be bigger, a way to warmly embrace those who made the Mets the Mets in the best sense.

At the risk of inciting Jerry Blevins‘s ire, I’ll close with what Terrence Mann had to say to Ray Kinsella: The Mets Hall of Fame reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Doubleday is a good one but I’m going – perhaps unsurprisingly – with David Wright.

It’s not all that often that fans of any team, let alone this one, get to see the best position player in franchise history. Mets fans, in fact, until recently didn’t really have a best position player in franchise history. We had lots of guys — Piazza, Beltran, Mookie, Keith, Carter, HoJo, Buddy, Millan, Kranepool, etc — who were franchise icons, but either not good enough to fit the description, or not here for long enough. But we never had our Ted Williams, our George Brett, our Craig Biggio — whichever comparison you use, up until very recently, we didn’t have one. When David Wright came up, it was evident pretty early on that he was going to be an all-time Mets great, provided he stayed long enough. Sure enough, as high as expectations were, I’d say he was better, for most of his career through 2013, than anyone could reasonably have hoped. People may not remember just how good David Wright was: in the ten years from 2004 to 2013, he batted .301/.382/.506, and averaged 22 home runs a year. The comparison doesn’t hold up, because George Brett had an absurdly productive second half of his career, but through his first ten years, Brett only hit .316/.370/.503, with far fewer home runs. Now, I KNOW that Wright’s career was completely derailed, while Brett went on to play ten more productive seasons — but George Brett is a top-5 all time third baseman, and matching up with him for ten years of a career is no easy task. And that’s not even getting into the intangibles, which to me, make it a no-brainer. David Wright is our captain, a leader in the locker room, and by all accounts, just about the nicest guy in baseball. He’s continued to work to come back from a series of injuries that almost certainly would have led a lesser player to hang ‘em up by now. Some people say it’s enough, that he should retire — but to a kid growing up with epilepsy, who too often got tired of working day after day for an uncertain reward sometime in the future, watching David Wright come back from injury, each time he did, was just incredible. David Wright is the greatest position player in Mets history, and maybe the greatest guy as well. The day he retires, his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame should go up, and — this isn’t the question, but I can’t resist — his number should join 31 and 41. I sometimes run into people opposed to this, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Gods do not answer letters, and David Wright’s number should never again be issued. Sometimes, in baseball, there are things you don’t even have to think about — you just know.

Mets Daddy

Previously, I have written pieces advocating for Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine, and Gary Cohen to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Going back through them, one of the things that stood out to me about calling for Cohen’s induction was his being up for the Ford C. Frick Award.  Essentially, the Mets were going to have the situation where Cohen was in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the Mets Hall of Fame.  That would certainly have been awkward.

To that end, I believe Carlos Beltran is the most pressing person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  With his Hall of Fame career coming to an end, the question is not whether he will go into the Hall of Fame, but what cap he will be wearing when he is inducted.  Looking over his career, that is between the Royals, Mets, and a blank cap.

Given the few Hall of Famers in this team’s history, it would behoove the Mets to attempt to convince Beltran to go into the Hall of Fame wearing the interlocking NY.  To do that, the team would have to heal some old wounds and rebuild some bridges.  A Carlos Beltran Day at Citi Field with his Hall of Fame induction would go a long way to accomplish that.

On a personal note, I never would have contemplated Nelson Doubleday, and that is why I am happy we are doing this Roundtable.  As you can tell, there is great Mets content out there and some original thought.  With that in mind, I encourage you to visit their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Meet The Mets Fan: WOR’s Pete McCarthy

The Mets Fan

Pete McCarthy – Host of the Sports Zone and Mets On-Deck on 710 AM WOR.

How You Became a Mets Fan

Parents are huge Mets fans, so I was born into it. Don’t remember a specific moment or reason why I stuck with it. They weren’t very good in my formative years but they were always my team!

Favorite Mets Player

Mike Piazza would be the easy choice looking back but I had many “favorite Mets” over the years. David Cone, Howard Johnson, Todd Hundley all held that title at some point. Jason Isringhausen was my guy, though! Looked like a stud at the end of ’95 so I bought all of his rookie cards and spent way too much allowance having his name printed on the back of my Mets jersey. Had to pay by the letter! And they only had yellow letters. UniWatch would not approve.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Todd Pratt‘s home run in the ’99 NLDS. Was starved for playoff baseball after growing up with the lousy 90’s Mets and you couldn’t have a more climactic end to the series. Still can’t watch a replay without sweating Steve Finley suddenly pulling the ball out of his glove.

Message to Mets Fans

It’s been amazing talking about the Mets every night on the radio over the last four seasons with you. Let’s hope for some more Todd Pratt moments in the near future. LGM!

Mets Perform Better With Republican Presidents

There are many factors to consider when voting for a candidate today.  At this point, they have all be regurgitated and discussed at length, and hopefully, you have made your decision based upon sound criteria.  However, if you are looking for a reason to change your mind or reason to have your mind made up for you, or you really want to base this important decision on how the Mets have fared with a Republican or a Democrat in office, you are in luck.  Here is how the Mets have performed under each President in their 54 year history:

President Seasons Record Win %
John F. Kennedy 1962 – 1963 91 – 231 0.283
Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 – 1968 303 – 506 0.375
Richard M Nixon 1969 – 1974* 478 – 433 0.525
Gerald R. Ford 1974* – 1976 263 – 277 0.487
Jimmy Carter 1977 – 1980 260 – 388 0.401
Ronald Reagan 1981 – 1988 662 – 573 0.536
George H.W. Bush 1989 – 1992 386 – 423 0.477
William Jefferson Clinton 1993 – 2000 562 – 506 0.526
George W. Bush 2001 – 2008 651 – 643 0.503
Barack Obama 2009 – 2016 630-666 0.486

* Nixon resigned from office August 9, 1974

Here are the cumulative results:

Party Record Win%
Democrat 1,846 – 2,297 0.446
Republican 2,440 – 2,349 0.510

Here are some interesting Mets postseason facts when there was a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

Democrat Postseason Facts

  • The two times the Mets have been to back-to-back postseasons was when there was a Democrat in the White House (1999 & 2000 – Clinton; 2015 & 2016 – Obama)
  • The Mets have only had an NLCS MVP when there was a Democrat in the White House (Mike Hampton – 2000; Daniel Murphy – 2015)
  • The Mets have only won the division once (2015) with a Democrat in office.  The other three postseason appearances were as the Wild Card.
  • The Mets have appeared in four total postseasons and two World Series.  The Mets are 21-17 in postseason games with the following records per round:
    Wild Card Game 0 – 1
    NLDS 9 – 4
    NLCS 10 – 4
    World Series 2 – 8

Republican Postseason Facts

  • The Mets have won their only two World Series with a Republican in office (1969 – Nixon; 1986 – Reagan)
  • In all five of their appearances in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets were the National Leauge East champions.
  • In three of the five appearances, the Mets won 100+ games with the high water mark coming in 1986 with 108 wins
  • In four of the five seasons the Mets appeared in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets had the best record in the National League (1973 is the exception).  In two of those seasons (1986 & 2006), the Mets had the best record in baseball.
  • In total, the Mets have appeared in five postseason and three World Series.  The Mets are 30-20 in those postseason games with the following records per round:
    NLDS 3 – 0
    NLCS 16 – 12
    World Series 11 – 8

If you wish to mainly focus on player performance over how the team has fared during each administration, Mets players have received more awards during Republican leadership:

Cy Young Award

Rookie of the Year

Rolaids Relief Man

Sports Illustrated Man of the Year

  • Republican 1 (Seaver 1969)
  • Democrat 0

Gold Gloves

Silver Sluggers

Roberto Clemente Award

From the Front Office side, Republicans have a 2-1 edge in executive of the year with Johnny Murphy winning in 1969, Frank Cashen winning in 1986, and Sandy Alderson winning in 2015.  Baseball America named the Mets the top organization in baseball once in a Republican (1984) and once in a Democratic (1995) term.

As a general rule of thumb, the Mets and their players have performed better with a Republican in office.  As you enter the voting booths today, take that as you will.  Hopefully, you have more sound criteria for choosing your candidate.

That’s How You Finish Out the Regular Season at Home

Growing up, my family did not always go to Opening Day.  It was sometimes difficult for my Dad to get off of work, and even if he could, we had my mother insisting that my brother and I could not miss a day of school just to go to a Mets game.  What eventually happened is that my father, brother, and I usually found ourselves going to the last game of the season, which usually falls on a Sunday.

When you go to Opening Day, there is always hope.  Even when your team stinks, you can find some reason for hope. I remember thinking back in 1993 that the 1992 Mets season was just a fluke.  Bobby Bonilla was certainly going to be better.  Howard Johnson was back in the infield where he belonged.  This could be the year Todd Hundley and Jeff Kent break out.  The team still had Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, and Bret Saberhagen with John Franco in the bullpen.  It turns out the 1993 team was even worse than the 1992 team.

The last game of the season always has an interesting feel to it.  When we went to the final game of the season, it was more of a farewell to an awful season.  Being ever the optimist, we still had hope for a bright future with Pete Schourek throwing eight brillant innings to cap off a Mets six game winning streak.  It seemed like 1994 was going to be a big year in baseball.  It was, but that’s a whole other story.

There was the devastating 2007 finale.  Heading into that game, most Mets fans believed that despite the epic collapse, the Mets were going to take care of the Marlins.  They just snapped a five game losing streak behind a brilliant John Maine performance and the offense coming alive to score 13 runs.  Even better, the Phillies seemed to be feeling the pressure a bit with them getting shut down by Matt Chico and a terrible Marlins team.  The sense was if the Mets won this game, the Phillies would feel the pressure and lose their game.  Even if the Phillies won their game, the Mets would beat the Phillies and return to the postseason like everyone expected.

After Tom Glavine laid an egg, which included out and out throwing a ball into left field trying to get Cody Ross, who was going to third on the original throw to home.  At 5-0, the Mets were still in the game.  David Wright was having a torrid September.  Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran were big game players.  I don’t think Moises Alou made an out that entire month.  With that in mind, I turned to my father, and I said to him, “If the Mets allow one more run, the game is over . . . .”  As the words left my mouth, Jorge Soler allowed a two run double to Dan Uggla.  Sure, they would play eight and a half more innings, but the collapse was over right then and there.

That 2007 finale hung over the 2008 finale.  Mets fans were probably a bit more optimistic than they had a right to be.  The day before Johan Santana took the ball with three days rest, and he pitched a complete game three hitter.  The Mets had Oliver Perez going in the finale.  Back then, this was considered a good thing.  The offense was clicking again.  However, that bullpen was just so awful.  The Mets were relying on Luis Ayala to close out games, and believe it or not, his 5.05 ERA and 1.389 WHIP was considered a steadying presence to an injury ravaged bullpen.  Beltran would hit a huge home run to tie the game, but the joy wouldn’t last.  Jerry Manuel, just an awful manager, turned to Scott Schoeneweis to gave up the winning home run to Wes Helms (Mets killer no matter what uniform he wore), and then aforementioned Ayala gave up another one that inning to Uggla to seal the deal at 4-2.

Fittingly, the last out was made by Ryan Church.  He was the same Mets player the Mets flew back and forth to the West Coast despite him having a concussion.  Remember the days when the Mets didn’t handle injuries well?  Nevermind.  In any event, I was one of the few that stayed to watch Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza close out Shea Stadium.  Many disagree, but I thought it helped.

Last year, was just a celebration.  The Mets had already clinched the NL East, and they were off to their first postseason since 2006.  The only thing left was the Mets winning one more game to get to 90 wins.  The 90 wins was window dressing, but the shift from 89 to 90 is just so satisfying.  It means more than 86 to 87 wins or 88 to 89 wins.  That 90 win mark is an important threshold for the psyche of teams and fans.

This year was something different altogether.  In terms of pure baseball, the Mets entered the day tied with the Giants for the first Wild Card with the Cardinals just a half a game behind (tied in the loss column).  The night before the Mets had seen Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero combine to put the team in a 10-0 hole that the Las Vegas 51s just couldn’t quite pull them out from under.  Still, that rally had created some buzz as did Robert Gsellman starting the game.  However, there was the shock of the Jose Fernandez news that muted some of the pregame buzz.

After the moment of silence, there was a game to be played, and it was just pure Mets dominance.

Gsellman would pitch seven shutout innings allowing just three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.  More amazing than that was the fact that he actually got a bunt single.  For a player that can only bunt due to an injury to his non-pitching shoulder, the Phillies sure acted surprised by the play.  Overall, it was a great day by Gsellman who was helped out by the Mets offense and a little defense along the way:

 

It was that type of day for the Mets.  After Saturday’s pinch hit home run there was a Jay Bruce sighting again on Sunday.  On the day, he was 2-4 with two runs and a double.  It was easily the best game he had as a Met.  His second inning double would start the rally that ended with James Loney hitting an RBI groundout.  Then, as  Cousin Brucey would say, “the hits just keep on comin’!”  No, that was not just an allusion to the Phillies pitchers who hit three batters in the game.  It refers to the Mets offense.

Curtis Granderson hit a fourth inning solo shot to make it 2-0.  It was his 30th of the year making it the first time  the Mets have had a pair of 30 home run outfielders since, really who even knows?  In the fifth, T.J. Rivera plated a run with an RBI single.  Later in the fifth, Jose Reyes would the first of his two RBI bases loaded walks.  Overall, the big blow would come in the seventh off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera:

The grand slam put the capper on not just the game, but a pretty remarkable season at home where the Mets were 44-37 on the season.  The Mets also hit 193 homers at home, which was the most ever hit at Citi Field, and more than any the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium in any one season:

In the eighth, the Mets just poured it on with some of the 51s getting into the game.  Gavin Cecchini was hit by a pitch, Brandon Nimmo and Ty Kelly walked, and Eric Campbell got another RBI pinch hit.  Throw in a Michael Conforto two RBI double, and the Mets would win 17-0.  Exiting Citi Field, you got the sense this was not the last time you would see this team at home.  As it stands now, the Mets back to being a game up on the Giants, and the Cardinals fell to 1.5 games back.

There haven’t been many final games to the season like this one, and I’m not sure there ever will be.  Overall, it was a great way to close out the regular season at Citi Field.  However, for right now, it is not good-bye like it was in 1993, and it certainly isn’t good riddance like it was in 2007.  Rather, this game had more of a feeling of, “See you again soon.”

  
  

 

It Began With the Home Run Derby

In 1985, Major League Baseball made the Home Run Derby a part of the All Star Game Festivities.  Darryl Strawberry would become the first ever Met to participate in a Home Run Derby and the only Met to win one.  He shared the title with Wally Joyner, who also hit four home runs.  Needless to say, it was a much different back then.

No other Met who followed would ever win a Home Run Derby.  In 1989, Howard Johnson‘s two home runs fell short of the three home runs hit by Ruben Sierra and Eric Davis.  In 1993, Bobby Bonilla would fall short as well as his five home runs were two short of the seven hit by Juan Gonzalez and Ken Griffey, Jr.  The Mets would not be close to winning until 2006 with David Wright.

It was that night in Pittsburgh that Wright seemed to be emerging from star to superstar.  With Paul Lo Duca as hit pitcher, Wright would hit 16 homers in the first round.  He made it all the way to the finals before losing to Ryan Howard.  In 2013, when the All Star Game was hosted at Citi Field, Wright would acquit himself well hitting five home runs.  However, he would not make it out of the first round.  Not many would notice as Wright wasn’t the story of that Home Run Derby.  It was Yoenis Cespedes flashing La Potencia:

Cespedes wowed the crowd with 17 first round homers en route to winning the 2013 Home Run Derby.  It was on that night that Cespedes’ legend began.  It was on that night that Mets fans began to become infatuated with him.  Three years later, he’s now their best player, and with him goes their hopes of returning to the World Series.