Jesse Orosco

Meet The Mets Fan: Ed Marcus

The Mets Fan

Hi, my name is Ed Marcus – aka: .. or RustyJr back when I was a blogger.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I was born a Mets fan.  Allegedly, my first Mets game was during the ‘73 playoffs when I was a year-and-a-half.

Favorite Mets Player

Mo Vaughn!  Actually, it’s Rusty Staub.  DUH!

Favorite Moment in Mets History

My favorite moment in Mets history was Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett to clinch the ‘86 World Series . It was a joyous cathartic moment in this Mets fans life.

Message to Mets Fans

There is more than life than baseball.  It’s just a distraction from the stress of real life . We shouldn’t live and die by every pitch – that’s just not normal . Go outside live life – neither the Wilpon’s not the players care about us . Watch as a fan – not as a fervent acolyte.  There’s a difference between a fan and a fanatic.

Jerry Koosman Helped Both World Series Victories

With the Cubs facing the daunting task of heading back home down 0-2 in the World Series, Jake Arrieta stepped up and pitched the most important game of his life.  Arrieta pitched 5.1 no-hit innings to help the Cubs even the series at 1-1 and to capture home field advantage.  Arrieta was the pitcher to carry a no-hitter that deep into the World Series since Jerry Koosman pitched six no-hit innings against the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the 1969 World Series.

Koosman’s performance was much more dominating and important than Arrieta’s.  Whereas the Cubs are favored in this year’s World Series, the 1969 were about as big of underdogs as you get.  The Orioles lineup featured two Hall of Famers in Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson.  They had a rotation featuring Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally, and future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer.  This was about as tough a team you could face.  This was a team so tough, they beat Tom Seaver 4-1 in Game 1 of the World Series.  Going into the World Series, you presumption was the Mets needed Seaver to win each and every single one of his starts to even have a chance, and not even that happened.

With the Game 1 victory, the Orioles appeared as if they were going to steamroll through the Mets much in the same fashion they had done to the Los Angeles Dodgers three years before and would do the following year to the Cincinnati Reds.  Koosman’s 8.2 innings two hit masterpiece changed all of that.  It completely changed the tone of the World Series and the momentum.  Without this performance, the Mets may not have had the same energy and belief in themselves.  It’s quite possible we don’t see either of Tommie Agee‘s catches or Ron Swoboda‘s for that matter.

While Koosman was not named the MVP of the series, that honor would go to Donn Clendenon, his performance was the most important factor in the Mets changing the script and winning the World Series in five games.  In that World Series, Koosman not only established himself as a great Met, he also established himself as the first big game pitcher in the franchise’s history.  Without him the Mets never win the 1969 World Series.

Coincidentally, without Koosman, the Mets also don’t win the 1986 World Series.

On December 8, 1978, the Mets traded Koosman to his hometown Minnesota Twins in exchange for Greg Field and a left-handed pitcher named Jesse Orosco.  Today is the 30th Anniversary of the Mets winning their second World Series.  The Mets would not have been able to win that World Series without Orosco’s three wins, and his gutsy win in Game 6, of the NLCS.  They would not have won without his standing on the mound to close out Game 7.

Neither the 1969 or the 1986 World Series would have been possible without Koosman.  With it being the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series victory and with Arrieta’s peformance, we were again reminded of that.

IBWAA NL Manager of the Year Ballot – Dave Roberts

This was a strange year in the National League Manager of the Year race.  All the teams that were supposed to be contenders were actually contenders despite most of those teams suffering brutal injuries.

That Nationals lost Stephen Strasburg for a good part of the year and will likely not have him in the postseason.  The Mets lost Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, David Wright, and Lucas Duda for a good portion of the season.  At one point, the Dodgers entire starting projected rotation was on the disabled list with the most crushing blow being a Clayton Kershaw trip to the disabled list.  The Cardinals have had their shortstops, Jhonny Peralta and Aledmys Diaz, on the disabled list with injuries, and they lost their closer Trevor Rosenthal.  Even the Cubs suffered a huge injury with Kyle Schwarber going down with a torn ACL.  With these teams overcoming those injuries, it could be quite difficult to determine who was actually the best manager in the National League this season.  Taking all that into consideration, here is my ballot:

1st Place – Dave Roberts

A large part of his award goes to Roberts because of what he did despite his team being the most injured team in all of baseball.  By the first week of the season, he lost two members of his starting rotation with Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu.  He would also lose important bullpen arms in Carlos Frias, Yimi Garcia, and Chris Hatcher for the year.  He’d also deal with the most dramatic injury of all when Kershaw went down with a back injury.

When Kershaw made his last start before heading to the disabled list, the Dodgers were 41-36, eight games behind the Giants in the West and a game behind the Marlins for the second Wild Card.  From that point forward, the Dodgers have the second best record in baseball.  They have won the NL West for the second year in a row, and they seem poised to make a deep run in the postseason.

That’s not the only reason why Roberts is the Manager of the Year.  He’s also capably handled a number of tricky situations that would have the potential to flummox other managers and potentially poison some clubhouses.  He had to get Howie Kendrick to accept being a utility player and eventually an outfielder.  He had to get one last great season out of Chase Utley.  He would pull rookie Ross Stripling while he had a no-hitter going because it was the best thing for the young player’s career and the Dodgers’ future.

Clearly, Roberts has been unafraid to make the tough decisions.  He had control of the clubhouse.  He avoided near disaster, and he led his team from eight games back to win the NL West.  That’s Manager of the Year material.

2nd – Joe Maddon

In reality, any other year this award would go to Maddon.  Maddon has established himself as the best manager in the game.

Maddon was handed a roster that was easily a World Series favorite, and he delivered during the regular season.  Not only did he get another great season from Jake Arrieta, but he also got better years from Jon Lester and John Lackey.  By the way, somehow he got a Cy Young caliber season out of Kyle Hendricks.

We also saw Maddon play mad scientist like he loves to do.  When Schwarber went down, Maddon took his budding superstar Kris Bryant and turned him into a Ben Zobrist type of player.  It probably helped Bryant that he had the actual Zobrist on the team to give him some pointers.  Additionally, never one to stay at the status quo, Maddon experimented using multiple relievers on the field.

On June 28th, Maddon would actually play Spencer Patton and Travis Wood in the outfield in a 15 inning game against the Reds.  It actually worked out well for the Cubs.  Patton started the 14th inning on the mound and Wood in left field.  When Jay Bruce came up to bat, Maddon would switch them around to get Bruce out.  After the Bruce at bat, Maddon switched them back so Patton could get Adam Duvall out.  This was reminiscent of the 1986 game where Davey Johnson was forced to shift Jesse Orosco and Roger McDowell between left field and the pitcher’s mound due to a Ray Knight ejection leaving the Mets without another position player.  However, Maddon wasn’t forced into the decision.  There wasn’t an injury or an ejection.  Rather, Maddon did it because he simply believed it gave the Cubs the best chance to win the game.

That is the type of progressive thinking that has made Maddon the best manager in the game, and it has helped the Cubs to a 100 win season with the best record in baseball.  If not for the terrific season Roberts had, Maddon would have won this quite easily.

3rd – Dusty Baker

Last year, the Nationals were done in by a toxic clubhouse and a terrible manager in Matt Williams.  In the offseason, the Nationals did what they had to do in firing Williams, and then they had to settle on Baker as their manager.

Baker has always been a curious case.  He has never been a favorite of the Sabermetrically inclined.  He makes curious in-game decisions (hello Russ Ortiz), and he has a tendency to over rely on veterans over young players that are probably better and can do more to help the team win.  Despite all of that, Baker has won wherever he has gone.  He has brought the Giants, Cubs, Reds, and now the Nationals to the postseason.  The reason is Baker is a manager that gets the most out of his players.

It wasn’t easy for him this year.  Bryce Harper had a down year, Jonathan Papelbon wouldn’t last the season as either the closer or as a National, and Ben Revere would show he was not capable of being the center fielder for a good team.  Worse yet, Strasburg went down with injury despite Baker actually being someone careful with his young pitcher.  So how’d he do it.  Well, he got career years from Daniel Murphy and Wilson Ramos.  In a sign of growth, Baker trusted a young player in Trea Turner to not only play everyday, but also to play out of position.  Mostly, Baker was Baker.

Overall, it is clear that Baker has some innate ability to get his teams to play well.  He did that again this year in turning around a Nationals team that fell apart last year to a team that comfortably won the NL East.

Honorable Mention – Terry Collins

By no means did Collins have a strong year this year.  You can point to the injuries, but he did do a lot to exacerbate them by playing players who he knew was injured.  He had a year where he messed around with Michael Conforto‘s development and threatened the career of Jim Henderson by abusing his surgically repaired shoulder for a “must-win” game in April.  Furthermore, he flat out abused the arms of Hansel Robles, Addison Reed, and Jeurys Familia.  So no, Collins is not deserving of the award.

However, he is deserving of an honorable mention with the class and dignity he comported himself in the aftermath of Jose Fernandez‘s death.  He made sure his team was there to console the Marlins, and he prepared his team to win games when some of his own players were devastated by Fernandez’s death.  This was one of the many acts of kindness Collins has shown as the Mets manager, and it should be highlighted.

Jeurys Familia Is Becoming the Mets Best Closer Ever

For an organization known for its pitching, it should come as no surprise that the Mets have had their fair share of good closers.  What may come as a surprise is that Jeurys Familia might just become better than them all.

The Mets first notable closer was Tug McGraw.  His contributions extend well past his coining the phrase “Ya Gotta Believe!”  Up until the 80’s, in a time when managers began to pitch to the save rule, McGraw was the Mets all-time leader with 86 saves.  He is also the only Mets to be a closer to for a team that won a World Series and a Pennant.  In 1969, he shared closing duties with Ron Taylor.  In 1973, he was not only the man, but in many ways, the vocal leader of the team.  The only record McGraw has remaining in the record books is most innings pitched by a Mets reliever  with 792.2 innings over his nine year Mets career.

The next Mets closer to appear in multiple postseasons was Jesse Orosco.  When discussing Orosco, there are always three things you need to mention: (1) he was part of the return the Mets received when they traded Jerry Koosman to the Twins; (2) Keith Hernandez warned him not to throw a fastball to Kevin Bass (he didn’t); and (3) his glove has still not landed.  After his eight year career was over, Orosco was both the Mets all-time leader in saves (107) and the Mets single season saves leader (31 in 1984).  To this day, he remains the only Mets closer to save a World series clinching game.

Orosco would eventually be surpassed by John Franco on both the saves list and the Mets all-time saves list.  Somewhat ironically, Franco’s entrance song was Johnny B. Goode as his ninth inning appearances were always a high wire act.  Still, throughout all of it, Franco has more saves by any left-handed closer in history with 424, and when he retired he was third on the all-time list trailing only Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman.  Franco recorded 276 of those saves with the Mets.  His 276 saves are the Mets record by a fairly wide margin.

In fact, Franco leads Armando Benitez by 116 saves on the Mets all-time list.  Coincidentally, Benitez is the man who replaced Franco as the Mets closer in 1999.  With the Mets having made consecutive postseason appearances in 1999 and 2000, Benitez remains the only Mets closer to pitch in consecutive postseasons.  While Mets fans loved to hate him, Benitez did show flashes of complete and utter dominance.  As of right now, his 43 saves in 2001 still remains the Mets single season record.

However, that record is in jeopardy.  Last year, Jeurys Familia, in his first season as the Mets closer, tied Benitez’s single season record.  This year, he has tied it again en route to him most likely breaking the tie with Benitez.  With Familia having saved 43 games for consecutive seasons, he has already set the mark for most saves by a Mets closer in consecutive seasons.  Even with Familia only having been the Mets closer for one plus seasons, he now ranks fifth all-time with 92 saves as a Met.  With 16 more saves, he will jump both Orosco and Billy Wagner to put him third all-time.

If the Mets current charge continues, he could join Benitez as the only Mets closer to appear in back-to-back postseasons.  If the Mets get into the postseason, anything is possible including seeing Familia join Orosco as the only Mets pitcher to earn a save to close out the World Series.

That’s just the thing with Familia.  He’s already a great closer, and he’s already writing his name all over the Mets record books.  As long as he is the Mets closer, anything is possible.  It’s also possible that we could be watching the best closer in Mets history.

You Can Trust Jeurys Familia Is Getting the Save

Normally, I’m much more in tune with a Mets game than I was last night. Generally speaking, no matter where I am, I’m getting play-by-play someway, somehow. I didn’t last night because I was at the Brooklyn Cyclones game with my family, and courtesy of Nicco Blank, we had great seats:

  
Being that close, especially with an active toddler, we had to be on high alert foul balls  in the stands:

  
Courtesy of Blake Tiberi

In any event, by the time we got to the car, I knew little about the game. I knew Bartolo Colon started the game. I knew Neil Walker hit a two run homer. I knew the Mets were up 4-3. I was just fuzzy on the rest of the who, what, where, when, or why about the other five runs that scored. 

There was another thing I knew. Jeurys Familia was going to close it out. 

So far this year, Familia is a perfect 28 for 28 in save chances. He has a career 2.49 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, and an 8.9 K/9. He has a career 149 ERA+. He’s consistent. He’s durable. He’s the best closer in the National League, and he’s amongst the best in baseball. As a fan, he’s a closer that gives you confidence. That’s a rare feeling for Mets fans. 

Sure, John Franco usually got the job done as evidenced by his 424 career saves. That’s the most for a lefty closer. That’s also 424 times he gave some poor Mets fan a heart attack for his Houdini acts. 

He was supplanted by Armando Benitez. Benitez was as dominant as they come unless he was facing Pat BurrellPaul O’Neill, the Braves, or any team in the Month of September or October. 

Billy Wagner was tremendous until he faced the immortal So TaguchiJesse Orosco and Roger McDowell were a bit before my time. 

About the only closer I can come up with during my time I had any confidence in was Randy Myers. Back in 1988 and 1989, he was great as the Mets closer. You had confidence when he took the mound. It was the opposite feeling when the Mets brought in Franco to start the 1990 season as the closer. It began a 14 year high wire act that was followed with the Benitez’s and the Braden Looper‘s of the world. 

It’s been 18 years since the Mets had a closer they can trust not to give everyone a minor stroke when they take the mound. Familia is different than his predecessors. When Familia enters the game in a save situation, he’s getting the save.  He typically does it without giving you a heart attack. When he enters the game, you know he’s converting the save. 

It’s about the one thing I knew for certain about the Mets game yesterday. 

The 1962 Mets Are Being Challenged

On Saturday, September 27, 2003, my father, brother, and I sat down to watch what was seemingly a meaningless baseball game.  The Minnesota Twins had already locked up the AL Central, and the Detroit Tigers had already locked up the worst record in baseball.  At that time, the only matter at issue was whether the Tigers would finish with a worse record than the 1962 Mets.

As each and every Mets fan knows, the worst team in baseball history was the 1962 Mets.  They were bad from the beginning.  The 1962 Mets lost their first nine games.  That wouldn’t even be the lowpoint of the season.  From May 21st until June 6th, the Mets would lost 17 straight games.  That wasn’t even their only 10 plus game losing streak.  There was an eleven game losing streak in late July, and there was a 13 game losing streak that spanned most of August.  The 1962 Mets didn’t really do anything well except maybe lose.  They inspired manager Casey Stengel to utter the phrase, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?”  It was a phrase so utterly perfect that Jimmy Breslin used it as the title for his book about the 1962 Mets.

The funny part about that team is that they are somewhat beloved.  There were colorful characters Mets fans know to this day regardless of whether or not they were around to see it.  There were old heroes like former Brooklyn Dodgers like Gil Hodges and Don Zimmer.  There was future Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn.  There were colorful characters as well.  There was Marvelous Marv Throneberry who missed not just first but second base when running out a triple.  There was speedy catcher Choo-Choo Coleman who best utilized his speed chasing down balls that went to the backstop.   About the only players who didn’t belong was Frank Thomas with his 34 homers and 17 year old Ed Kranepool who actually had a bright future ahead of him in the majors.

That 1962 season was the first season in Mets history, and it was an important one at that.  This record is quintessentially the Mets.  It is a terrific reference point for each and every time the Mets have success.  Whenever a 1969 or 1986 happens, it’s a reminder of how the Mets really did come from nothing to achieve great heights.  Having this record was important, and it should be important to Mets fans.

It is why my family was rooting for the Tigers that day.  At that point it wasn’t looking good.  The Tigers had to take three of four from the Twins to avoid loss 120.  They lost the prior game, and they were down 7-1 going into the bottom of the seventh.  Somehow, someway, the Tigers pulled it off.  They scored three in the seventh and then four in the eighth to somehow time the game.  Then in the ninth, old friend Jesse Orosco threw a wild pitch allowing Alex Sanchez to score the winning run.  At that point, Orosco was probably throwing things in disgust.  However, to Mets fans, it looked like Orosco was throwing his glove into the heavens like he had done in 1986.  The Tigers snatched a win from the jaws of defeat number 120.  The 1962 Mets would be safe.

Now, this year, the 1962 Mets are being challenged once again.  The Atlanta Braves come to Flushing sporting a 19-46 record.  With their .292 win percentage, the Braves are on pace for a 47-115 season.  If the Mets sweep the Braves like they should, the Braves will be all the closer to loss number 120.  If the Braves are able to move the few major league quality bats from their line-up like Freddie Freeman, who knows how much worse things will get in Atlanta.  Towards the end of the season, there will most likely be a race to see if the Braves could actually surpass the 1962 Mets loss total.

While it has been ingrained in me from the days of Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo to never root for the Braves, I will root for the Braves to win some games to avoid losing 120 or more games.  Preferably, those wins will come at the expense of the Washington Nationals.  Hopefully, at the end of the season, the 1962 Mets place in history will be secure.

Where’s My Bobblehead?

When I saw today’s game on the promotional schedule, I knew that I was going to this game. A 1986 Jesse Orosco Bobblehead giveaway on a game against the Red Sox?  Amazin’.  

The fact that it’s only available to 15,000 fans? It may me think – same old cheap Wilpons. Teams like the Brewers order enough Bobbleheads for everyone with some left over for donations and the like. The average cost of a Bobblehead to a team is $3. Therefore, the cost to the Mets is $45,000. Citi Field has a capacity of 41,800. It would cost the Mets $125,40 to order enough Bobbleheads for everyone. 

Bobbleheads can increase tickets sales by 6,000 tickets. The tickets for today’s game ranges from $41.00 for standing room only to $410.00. Let’s assume all 6,000 people purchase a standing room only ticket. That means the Mets generated an additional $246,000 in revenue. That doesn’t include the price of parking and food. I know teams have their budgets, but as you can see, Verizon sponsorship aside, the Bobbleheads pay for themselves. 

I’ve never missed out on a promotion. I’ve always been there for batting practice. I like going early because I can settle in. I hate going early on Bobblehead days because people get there early too and they become unnecessarily aggressive. That’s not fun when you have small children. Speaking of small children, is it good business to limit a promotion creating a chance a small child doesn’t get one? 

I’m not taking that risk. I’m getting there early because I get to games early. I’m getting there earlier due to the Bobblehead. I’m getting there even earlier because of Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day. My son loves his Lucas Duda Growth Chart, and I hope he’ll love his new Bobblehead. 

Mostly, I hope we’ll have fun today. As I’m going to be at the game, my game recap today will be quite late. It’s worth it because I’m going to a Mets game with my son. It doesn’t get better than that . . . Bobblehead or no Bobblehead.