MIke Piazza

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 44 David Cone

While many remember him for wearing number 17 in honor of Keith Hernandez, and the last we saw of him was wearing Dwight Gooden‘s number 16, for most of his Mets career, David Cone wore the number 44.

That was the number Cone was wearing in 1988 when he emerged as the big time pitcher he would be known as throughout his Major League career. Despite starting the year in the bullpen, he would break through into the starting rotation by May, and he would immediately stake his claim to a rotation spot by pitching a complete game shutout against the Braves.

That was just the start of what was a great year for Cone. Cone would jump out of the gate winning his first seven starts. When he lost his first game, it would only be one of three games he lost on the entire year. That seven game winning streak wasn’t his best streak of the year. In fact, Cone would win his final eight games of that 1988 season. With that, Cone would become the first ever Mets pitcher to win 20 games his first full season in the rotation.

In almost any other year, this would have been good enough for Cone to win the Cy Young. In that 1988 season, he had the best winning percentage, and he had the second best ERA in the majors. He had the top ERA out of anyone who pitched over 200 innings. Ultimately, he was in the top 5 to 10 in nearly every pitching category, but he really had no chance with Orel Hershiser‘s record setting 1988 season.

It is really difficult to figure out a true highlight from that season. After all, he had two separate 10 inning complete games. He struck out 10+ seven different times. That was partially the result of that laredo slider. Ultimately, in that 1988 season, we really learned how special a pitcher Cone would be.

The 1988 Mets would win the division for the second time in three years. Cone would take it on the chin in Game 2 after some bold talk, but he would soon step up big time. In Game 3, after a huge five run eighth, Cone entered the game for Randy Myers to close out that victory giving the Mets a then 2-1 series lead.

When Cone took the mound again in Game 6, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. He would not let that happen with a gutty complete game victory evening up the series. This was really the first truly great postseason start which would one day become the hallmark of his career.

The shame for Cone was this was his only chance to pitch for the Mets in the postseason. That great Mets team would fall apart due to a mixture of age, off the field problems, and some really ill-advised transactions. Despite the Mets falling apart over the years, Cone would remain great.

Over that time frame, much like in 1988, Gooden would be the ace in name, but by production, Cone was the true ace of those Mets staffs.

During his time with the Mets, he was a real fan favorite with the Coneheads there to greet his every start. Cone was there with great outings racking up big strikeout totals, and on more than one occasion, he would with becoming the first Mets pitcher to pitch a no-hitter. The closest he got was April 28, 1992 when a Benny Distefano swinging bunt with one out in the eighth refused to roll foul.

One of the reasons Cone was able to flirt with no hitters like this was he was so difficult to hit. In five of his first six seasons with the Mets, he struck out over 200 batters. In 1990 and 1991, he led the league in strikeouts. In fact, from 1988 – 1992, Cone had struck out more batters than any other National League pitcher.

It was more than just the strikeouts for Cone. He also had the most shutouts over that time frame while pitching the third most innings. He was third overall in FIP trailing just Gooden and Jose Rijo. His WAR was the third best in all of baseball.

To put it in perspective, he trailed just Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux, and he was ahead of Nolan Ryan. If not for Clemens cheating, those three pitchers would be in the Hall of Fame. Really, when you look at it, during his time with the Mets, Cone was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher. Somehow, despite that, he was just an All-Star twice and received Cy Young votes just once in his Mets career.

Really, he did things only Hall of Fame caliber pitchers could do like tying the National League single game strike out record on the final game of the 1991 season:

While that mark would later fall, at the time, that tied him with Tom Seaver for the most by any National League pitcher. To this day, it remains a Mets record. That should put Cone’s Mets career in perspective. He did the things only Seaver could do. As it stands, Cone was a truly great Mets pitcher.

He’s only one of nine Mets pitchers to win 20 in a season. By WAR, he is the ninth best pitcher in team history. By FIP, he is the sixth best. He is also eighth all-time in wins, third in K/9, 10th in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts, seventh in complete games, and fifth in shutouts.

One special thing Cone did do was return to the Mets. Due to injuries which had taken their toll on his arm and health, he missed the 2002 season. The Mets gave him a shot in 2003, and in his first start of that season, he shut out the Montreal Expos for five innings for the last win of his Major League career.

Even with Cone having a 17 year career taking him to both New York teams, Toronto, Kansas City, and Boston, Cone’s first and last win of his career would come while wearing a Mets uniform. Over that time, he’d wear many numbers, but in the end, he would ultimately become the best Mets player to ever wear the number 44.

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

2000 Game Recap: Mets Lose Game And Potentially Piazza

If you want to look for positives from this game, they were there. While he had departed the game on the short side of the ledger, Mike Hampton continued his stretch of good pitching allowing three runs (two earned) over seven innings. The Mets also fought to get back into this game.

Heading into the eighth inning, the Mets could get nothing done against Kevin Brown. Brown was his typical dominant self, and if not for an Edgardo Alfonzo homer in the first, the Mets would not have scored a run. In fact, Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, and Hampton were the only to get a hit off of Brown over his six innings.

Entering the eighth, the Mets were down 3-1, which meant they were in the game. Soon, it would be tied. Kurt Abbott led off the inning with a homer off of Alan Mills. After Matt Franco drew a pinch hit walk, and Melvin Mora singled, the Dodgers brought in Matt Herges.

Alfonzo ripped a ball to deep right off of Herges scoring Jon Nunnally, who had pinch ran for Franco. With Mora holding to see if Shawn Green made the play, he could only get to third. That was the part of the Mets bad luck in the inning. Up next was Todd Pratt.

Pratt was in the game because in the sixth, Gary Sheffield‘s typical violent follow-through on his swing hit Mike Piazza in the head. The catcher had blood gushing, and he was removed from the game with his needing to get cleaned up and his likely suffering a concussion.

With Piazza suffering that concussion and coming out of the game, it meant Pratt was up in the eighth. Pratt ripped a ball to short which looked liked it short hopped Kevin Elster. Instead, it was ruled a catch. With Elster having been ruled to catch it, he easily got Mora who had already left third base. That ended an inning where the Mets could’ve taken the lead.

The Mets got their chance again in the ninth. After Ventura and Todd Zeile led off the inning with back-to-back singles, Benny Agbayani, Abbott, and Jay Payton failed to drive them home. Those two missed chances would cost the Mets dearly.

In the ninth, Turk Wendell just didn’t have it. He hung a few to Eric Karros, who couldn’t take advantage. Instead, Karros struck out. Wendell wouldn’t have the same luck with Elster who hit a walk-off homer giving the Dodgers the 4-3 win.

When it comes to this game, the much larger concern is the loss of Piazza than it is the loss of the game. Piazza has once again proved he is not just the best catcher in the game, but really one of the absolute best in the game. We’ve see the Mets can trust Pratt to help them get by, but they are going to need Piazza to go where they want to go this year.

Game Notes: The Mets ended this three city, two time zone road tripe with a 5-4 record. That’s much better than their first west coast trip where they went 5-7 in the trip that had stops in Colorado, San Francisco, Florida, and Pittsburgh.

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.

The Next Jacob deGrom Might’ve Just Seen His Baseball Career End

This past week, the New York Mets released 39 minor league players. They were far from the only team who took that action. Every MLB undertook the same process with the COVID19 shutdown, the ever increasingly likely cancellation of the minor league season, and the contraction of 42 minor league teams.

This led to a variety of reactions. Many were sad, and some were angry. There was also Andrew Church who eviscerated the Mets and Tim Tebow. Lost in that was the purge of minor league talent.

Make no mistake, every minor leaguer who was released was a talented baseball player. They had enough talent to get a contract to play professional baseball. The issue at the moment was teams like the Mets thought better to get rid of them so they wouldn’t have to pay them $400/week.

When you look at the players who were released, you really have to question whether the Mets would’ve released Jacob deGrom under similar circumstances. Don’t be so sure they wouldn’t have.

Going back a decade, deGrom was a ninth round draft pick out of Stetson University. While much has been made about his being a collegiate SS, truth be told deGrom had converted to a pitcher Junior year. That year, he pitched and played short. It was his pitching which caught the Mets attention.

Just because he caught the Mets attention, it doesn’t mean he was good right away.

As a 22 year old, deGrom was assigned to a Kingsport franchise which is in line to be contracted. Despite being over a full year older than the competition, he did not pitch well.

In the six starts deGrom made, he was 1-1 with a 5.19 ERA, 1.577 WHIP, and a 7.6 K/9. Batters hit .324/.360/.472 off of him. At the end of the year, he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL.

At that time, there was nothing which could give you any indication he was about to become a pitcher who would have a dominant 2015 postseason in addition to consecutive Cy Youngs.

No, he looked like an older prospect for his level who couldn’t beat younger batters, and worse yet, he had a busted elbow. If you’re looking to not pay players, and you’re looking to cut down the amount of people in your system to prepare for a loss of affiliates, deGrom was going to be in real danger of getting released.

If that happened, deGrom doesn’t get the chance to get healthy, learn a change-up from Johan Santana, and start on a path towards being a potential Hall of Famer. No, in all likelihood, his career would’ve been over.

Now, it’s very possible none of the 39 players released by the Mets could’ve done what deGrom did. Most and maybe all don’t even make it to the majors. However, that’s not the point.

The point is unless you give prospects real time to learn and develop you’re never going to find the next deGrom. The same can be said for Mike Piazza, Jeff McNeil, of Seth Lugo. For that matter, the Mets miss the 2016 postseason without undrafted free agent T.J. Rivera.

In the end, MLB franchises opted to end the dreams of minor leaguers over $400/week. In the process, they’re going to potentially miss out on the next diamond in the rough, or even that key player who gets them to the postseason thereby making the franchise millions of dollars.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Rey Ordonez Breaks Arms In Loss

It was a play only Rey Ordonez could make. After F.P. Santangelo had his at-bat extended by a Robin Ventura error on a foul ball pop up, he walked. Al Leiter picked Santangelo off first, and Todd Zeile made a poor throw. For any other shortstop, this would have been a ball thrown into left field.

However, this is Ordonez. He made one of the most incredible plays you will ever see. Ordonez lunged to get the errant throw, and he then twisted in the air getting the tag on Santangelo to record the out. That wasn’t the only out on the play. The defensive wizard Ordonez broke his arm on the play, and he is going to be headed to the DL.

Ordonez wouldn’t be the only loss for the Mets. For the first time all season, the Mets would lose a game Leiter started.

Like the last time the Mets went out west, which was somehow little over a week ago, the Mets hot bats went cold against a mediocre pitcher. This time, it was Chan Ho Park who shut them down.

Over the first six-and-a-half innings, both teams would put together rallies, but they would each fall short. For example, the Mets twice had two on, and they failed to score. As for the Dodgers, they were shooting themselves in the foot.

In the second, Mike Piazza threw out his old roommate Eric Karros trying to steal a base to end the inning. In the fifth, Karros tried to score from first on a Chad Kreuter double, and he was thrown out at the plate on a Joe McEwingKurt Abbott relay. Abbott’s throw was high, but Piazza had enough time to leap, land, and put down the tag. In the sixth, Karros was not going to run the Dodgers out of the inning.

In that sixth inning, Leiter just lost it. He gave up a single to Jose Vizcaino to start the inning. After a Park sacrifice bunt Leiter hit the next two batters to load the bases with one out. Leiter was all over the place, and after throwing a first pitch ball to Shawn Green, he tried to throw a strike. Instead, he made a mistake, a big mistake as Green hit a grand slam.

It was a shame that happened as Leiter was very good in this game other than that stretch. In fact, other than that inning, Leiter had allowed just three other hits and issued one walk. If not for this sixth inning meltdown, who knows how much longer this game would’ve gone.

The Mets bullpen did their job with Rich Rodriguez and Jim Mann combining to pitch a scoreless seventh and eighth to give the Mets a chance. To their credit, the Mets would rally in the ninth against Dodgers closer Jeff Shaw.

Benny Agbayani led off the ninth with a single, and there would be runners on first and second with one out after a Matt Franco pinch hit walk. After a Derek Bell ground out, McEwing hit an RBI double. Unfortunately, that was the only run the Mets would score in the 4-1 loss as Edgardo Alfonzo grounded out to end the game.

For the Mets, the loss is one thing. The bigger issue for the team going forward is going to be how they are going to handle shortstop for the next two months as Ordonez’s broken arm heals.

Game Notes: Melvin Mora is expected to come off the DL after this road trip. It remains to be seen if he will be rushed back with Ordonez hitting the DL and Abbott hitting just .200. This was Mann’s MLB debut. Given what the Mets decided to do with Rick Reed, he may stay on the roster for a longer stretch than originally anticipated.

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.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Sweep Cardinals

The one thing which has plagued Glendon Rusch this season has been a lack of run support. While the vast majority of his starts have him going deep into the game allowing few runs, the Mets offense has not given him runs to help those strong outings lead to wins. Today was different.

After hitting two homers yesterday, including the game winning grand slam, Todd Zeile hit a second inning homer off of Darryl Kile to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. That lead was short lived as the Cardinals got it right back in the bottom of the second. Mark McGwire led off the inning with a double, and he would come around to score on a Placido Polanco sacrifice fly.

The Mets responded immediately with Edgardo Alfonzo hitting a solo homer to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. The Mets would not trail again in this game.

After allowing a run in the second, Rusch made quick work of the Cardinals. While he uncharacteristically issued walks in the the ensuing two innings, he would get through unscathed. It would not be until the fifth when the Cardinals got to him again. In that inning, Mike Matheny and Fernando Vina hit a pair of doubles scoring a run.

With Todd Pratt hitting a homer in the third, that would pull the Cardinals to within 3-2. The Cardinals would not get any closer in the game.

After Rusch allowed the RBI double to Vina in the fifth, he would retire the final seven Cardinals batters he faced. His final line would be 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, and 7 K. He would also pick up his third win of the season.

The Mets 4-2 lead had grown to 5-2 when Zeile and Joe McEwing hit their own pair of doubles in the sixth. After John Franco pitched a scoreless eighth, the Mets added an insurance run in the ninth on a Jay Payton RBI single. That RBI single snapped a 2-for-30 streak for Payton, and it was his first RBI since May 10.

After Armando Benitez pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation, the Mets completed a sweep of the first place Cardinals. Given how the Mets dealt with an injury to Rick Reed, Mike Piazza sitting a day game after a night game, and the travel from the west coast, this was without a doubt the Mets most impressive series of the season.

Game Notes: Mark Johnson was sent down to make room for Jim Mann. Mann was called up with the Mets needing an extra arm in the pen with Pat Mahomes going over two innings twice over the past week. With Reed missing at least one start, Paul Wilson put together another quality start in Triple-A. After Derek Bell led off yesterday, Nunnally led off today with Payton hitting second.

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. 42 Ron Taylor

When Major League Baseball retired the number 42 across all of baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson, at the time it meant Butch Huskey was going to be the last Mets player to wear that number. That was until the Mets acquired Mo Vaughn who had been grandfathered in as he was wearing the number in honor of Robinson.

Neither Huskey or Vaughn are the best Mets players to ever wear that number. That honor goes to Ron Taylor.

While we look back at those Mets teams who went from laughingstocks to a World Series winner, oft times, Tug McGraw was seen as the closer for those teams. After all, he was the larger than life personality who had the swagger you have come to expect to see from closers. However, truth be told, back in those days, it was Taylor.

From 1967 – 1970, it was Taylor who would lead the Mets in saves. When it came down to it, more times than not, it was Taylor who was the reliever the Mets trusted most. That was the most evident in 1969.

In Game 1 of the NLCS, the Mets first ever postseason game, Taylor entered the game in the eighth inning after Tom Seaver departed with the Mets leading 9-5. After pitching two scoreless innings, Taylor was credited with the first ever postseason save in Mets history.

One humorous anecdote from that game was in the ninth, as detailed in Tales from the Mets Dugout, was after Felix Millan had hit a lead-off single, Gil Hodges had instructed Taylor to walk Hank Aaron to face Orlando Cepeda. Hodges knowing he had difficulty against Cepeda demanded to face Aaron. An angry and incredulous Hodges let Taylor have his druthers leaving him with a faint warning.

Taylor would retire Aaron, and when he came back to the dugout, Hodges remarked to him, “You know, you’re crazier than I thought!”

After Taylor picked up the save in the Mets first ever postseason game, he would become the first reliever in Mets history to pick up a win in the postseason. The day after pitching two scoreless, he relieved Jerry Koosman in the fifth. He got Koosman out of that jam, and with the Mets leading 9-6 after five, he was the pitcher of record.

Again, in the World Series, it was Taylor who got the call when the Mets were in trouble. After another scoreless appearance in a losing Game 1, Taylor was called upon to relieve Koosman in Game 2.

Taylor entered Game 2 with runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth of a 2-1 game, and Brooks Robinson due up. Taylor got Robinson to ground out to Ed Charles to end the game. With that, Taylor became the first Mets pitcher to earn a save in a World Series game:

In that 1969 postseason, Taylor made four appearances pitching 5.2 scoreless innings. In those appearances, he allowed just three hits and walked one while striking out seven. When you look through Mets history, you can actually argue Taylor is the Mets best ever postseason reliever.

When Taylor departed the Mets organization, he was the Mets all-time leader in saves. Now, he ranks 12th all-time. In essence, he was the first big time reliever in Mets history, and his performance in the 1969 postseason was an all-time great one. As such, he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 42.

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

2000 Game Recap: Zeile Grand Slam Wins It

The Mets started this game making a statement, and that statement would be a distant memory in a crazy game with a ton of challenges. That includes but is far from limited to a rain delay of a little more than half an hour.

Newly inserted lead-off batter Derek Bell began the game with a lead-off single. He’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo double. After Andy Benes walked Mike Piazza, Robin Ventura and Todd Zeile went back-to-back to give the Mets a commanding 5-0 first inning lead.

With Rick Reed on the mound, that should have been more than enough. Little did we know at the time, Reed was dealing with an oblique injury which eventually would force him from the game. As a result of the injury, Reed was not nearly as effective as we’ve seen him all season long.

That began in the bottom of the first with Reed issuing a lead-off walk to Fernando Vina. In that inning, which included a balk, he’d allow a Ray Lankford RBI double and a Craig Paquette RBI single to pull the Cardinals to within 5-2.

What was frustrating for the Mets is they had an opportunity to get those runs back and then some in the second. They loaded the bases with one out, but this time neither Ventura nor Zeile could knock in a run. The Mets would rue that missed chance when Lankford got to Reed again this time hitting a two run homer to pull the Cardinals within a run.

Reed got through that third inning, but he would be pulled from the game. At the moment, it is expected the Mets will put him on the DL, which is a move which will again test the Mets non-existent pitching depth.

Piazza got one of the runs back with a solo homer in the fourth, but shortly, the Mets would fall behind the Cardinals.

With Pat Mahomes going 2.1 innings just three days prior, and there was also the consideration with Reed going down, he may need to enter the rotation. Taking that into account, Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez. Rodriguez was as bad as he’s been all year by immediately loading the bases forcing Valentine’s hands.

Mahomes came into the bases loaded no outs situation, and he allowed the first run to score with a wild pitch. Mahomes then walked Mark McGwire to re-load the bases. It was Lankford again getting to the Mets by hitting a sacrifice fly giving the Cardinals a 7-6 lead.

The topsy-turvy start to the game calmed down for a bit until the sixth inning. Mahomes walked Edgar Renteria to lead-off the inning. After Renteria stole a base, he came home to score on a McGwire RBI single expanding the Cardinals lead to 8-6. With Mahomes struggling after 2.1 solid innings of relief, Valentine went to Dennis Cook.

Cook had allowed at least one run in five out of his last seven outings. Today, he stepped up, and he first got the Mets out the jam in the sixth, and then he pitched a scoreless seventh. Getting out of that jam allowed the Mets to stay in the game, a game they once led 5-0.

In the eighth, the Mets would get their chance against Heathcliff Slocumb. Between an error by Paquette allowing Alfonzo to reach safely, Slocumb had walked Jon Nunnally and Piazza to load the bases. After Mark Johnson (who entered on a double switch with Cook) struck out, the Mets had the same situation they had in the second – bases loaded with one out. This time Zeile would deliver hitting a grand slam.

With that grand slam, the Mets went from a very frustrating loss to a 10-8 lead. The Mets would tack on two runs in the ninth to increase their lead to 12-8. After John Franco pitched a scoreless ninth, it was a 12-8 victory. Overall, this was an impressive win albeit a win which potentially came with the loss of Reed.

Game Notes: This was Bell’s first game as the Mets lead-off hitter with McEwing batting second. While he did not have a run or an RBI, Benny Agbayani had a three hit game. The other Met with three hits today was Alfonzo.

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. 41 Tom Seaver

There is no doubt here. Not only is Tom Seaver the best player in Mets and baseball history to ever wear the number 41. He is simply the best player in the history of the New York Mets. More than that, he could be the best right-handed pitcher in the history of baseball who, to date, has the highest ever voting percentage of any starting pitcher inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The fact Seaver even became a Met was pure luck. The Atlanta Braves had illegally signed Seaver leading to the Commissioner’s Office to declare the contract null and void. As Seaver was not allowed to return to pitch in college, ti was determined that any team willing to match his bonus could sign him. Three teams stepped up, but it was the Mets who won that lottery forever altering the course of franchise history.

Not only did Seaver become the first Mets rookie to win the Rookie of the Year award, but he would begin to completely rewrite the Mets history books in the process. Part of that was his making his first All-Star team, which was the first of his seven consecutive appearances and 10 total as a member of the New York Mets.

In 1968, Seaver began his rewrite of some of baseball’s history books. Coming off his Rookie of the Year season, Seaver would be the Mets Opening Day starter. This was the first of what is a still standing MLB record of 16 Opening Day starts. That was just one of the many incredible and record setting things Seaver did as a member of the Mets.

While Seaver was known to be destined for greatness, we saw him be truly great, clearly a step ahead of everyone, in 1969. In that season, he would have a great season setting more Mets records along the way, and he’d have one of his signature performances with the Imperfect Game:

That game was great for many reasons. Aside from the greatness it showed, it was a message sending game to the Cubs the surging Mets were for real, and the Mets had the pitching to take them down, which they eventually would.

Seaver was the man who got the ball in their first ever postseason. While not being classic Seaver, he still won the first ever postseason game the Mets ever played. He would not, however, win the first World Series game in Mets history. He would rebound, and he would be great in Game 4 picking up the win after limiting the Orioles to just one run over 10 innings.

The Mets won that improbable World Series, and they only got to that point because they had Seaver, who at the point was already the best pitcher in the game. There would be so much more in store, including his 19 strikeout game in 1970, which was a then Major League record:

As great as he was in those seasons and those moments, Seaver had an absolute season for the ages. In 1971, Seaver was definitively the best pitcher on the planet. He led the Majors in ERA, ERA+, FIP, and K/9, and he was third in strikeouts. By ERA+, only Dwight Gooden‘s 1985 season would be better in Mets history. Somehow, Seaver, despite being the best pitcher on the planet, finished second to Fergie Jenkins in Cy Young voting. To this day, it remains one of the worst decisions voters have ever made.

While cheated in 1971, Seaver would the Cy Young in 1973 and 1975. When Seaver won the Cy Young in 1975, he became the first right-handed pitcher in Major League history to ever win three Cy Young Awards.

Of note with that 1973 Cy Young, when he won that award, he became the first ever pitcher to win the award without winning 20 games. It should also be noted Seaver was one of the major reasons the Mets were even able to win the division that year.

In the NLCS, he took the loss in Game 1 despite allowing just two earned over 8.1 innings. In the deciding Game 5, he would not be denied. He shut down the Big Red Machine over 8.1 innings this time allowing just one earned. With that Seaver once again led the Mets to the World Series. In an alternate universe, Yogi Berra held onto Seaver to pitch and win Game 7.

In reality, Seaver should have been a Met for life. However, M. Donald Grant thought he was bigger than the team, and instead waged a war against Seaver using his newspaper connections to help force Seaver out of town. While fans lament many deals, the trade which sent Seaver to the Reds remains the worst in team history. Certainly, the Midnight Massacre was among the most depressing days to be a Mets fan.

Seaver’s Mets story didn’t end there. He would have a hero’s return in 1983. Not only would he pitch well that year, but he would serve as a mentor to the young players on that staff like Ron Darling. Ironically, he was part of the contingent who bonded with Keith Hernandez and helped convince him to stay.

After the season, the Met miscalculated. They left Seaver exposed to claims never believing he would be claimed. Sadly, he was claimed by the White Sox. This meant Seaver’s 300th win would be with the White Sox. Still, that moment would happen in New York as Seaver would ruin Phil Rizzuto Day for the Yankees.

When Seaver’s career was over, he was clearly one of the best pitchers to ever take the mound. At the time, his three Cy Youngs were the most of any right-handed pitcher of all-time. His 3,640 strikeouts were the third most of all-time and the sixth most in Major League history today.

Since World War II, only Warren Spahn has more shutouts meaning he has more shutouts than any other right-handed pitcher over that stretch. His WAR is the seventh best of all-time, and since World War II only the steroid driven career of Roger Clemens was better. When you take it all into account, Seaver could rightfully stake a claim as the best right-handed pitcher of all-time and the best pitcher since World War II. Seaver is definitively the best National League pitcher ever.

He’s also definitively the best Mets player ever. That is why he is The Franchise. His number was the first player’s number retired by the Mets. Citi Field is now located at 41 Seaver Way. He owns almost every record of significance in Mets history. He is the best 41 in team history.

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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

2000 Game Recap: Hampton Aces Cardinals Test

The Mets have a bit of a litmus test right now. They are flying halfway across the country after losing two out of three to a bad Padres team. Now, they are facing a red hot Cardinals team who has won five in a row and six of their last seven. If this is a test, they have passed the first part.

The Mets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first as Pat Hentgen got wild. After allowing a two out double to Edgardo Alfonzo, he walked three straight. When he walked Todd Zeile, he forced home a run giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

For a while that seemed like it was all the support Mike Hampton was going to need. Something has clicked for Hampton over the past month, and he seems more comfortable on the mound. Mostly, he looks like the ace the Mets thought they were getting. Today was yet another ace-like performance.

Hampton would pitch deep into the game lasting eight innings. Over those eight innings, Hampton would allow just two earned on nine hits and two walks while striking out five. While Jim Edmonds got to him with a solo homer in the fifth, one of the key things Hampton did do was keep Mark McGwire in the park.

In addition to shutting down the Cardinals offense, Hampton would help his own cause. In the fourth, Benny Agbayani led off the inning with a single, and he would steal second. That led to a very interesting decision by the Mets with Rey Ordonez bunting over Agbayani for Hampton. It seemed to work as Hampton drove Agbayani home with a sacrifice fly.

Still, after four, the game was tied 2-2. The Hentgen who was wild in the first had settled down, and he had parted the game with a no decision after allowing two runs over six. The Cardinals bullpen would not be as lucky.

In the seventh, Mark Thompson lost the strike zone after retiring the first two batters. He’d then walk Derek Bell, Alfonzo, and Mike Piazza. Tony La Russa went to the bullpen to bring in the lefty Mike Mohler to face Robin Ventura. The move did not work as Ventura hit an RBI single scoring Bell and Alfonzo giving the Mets a 4-2 lead.

It was Ventura again giving the Mets a cushion in the ninth. After Alfonzo doubled and Piazza singled off Heathcliff Slocumb to start the inning, Ventura drove in Alfonzo with a sacrifice fly. The Mets would strand Piazza on the base paths, but fortuantely, that did not matter as Armando Benitez continued his terrific streak by recording the save.

This win harkens back to the Diamondbacks series where the Mets beat another first place team. With these wins, we see the Mets getting terrific production from their top player with key plays from role players like Agbayani. With Benitez shutting the door on the back-end the Mets are in a very good place right now.

Game Notes: Bobby Valentine swore after the game Ordonez was bunting for a base hit. This was a key point of contention as Ordonez and Valentine have been feuding lately over Ordonez’s poor hitting. This has become a key issue with Melvin Mora getting closer to coming off the DL.

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.