Preston Wilson

2000 Game Recap: This Is The Mike Hampton The Mets Traded For

When the Mets sent Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel to the Houston Astros, they did so thinking they were getting an ace in return, the type of ace who could take this Mets team over the top and help them win the World Series. Over the first month of the season, Mike Hampton was definitively not that.

For the second straight start, Hampton has shown himself to be the ace the Mets hoped he would be. Part of being an ace is being a stopper who comes up with big time pitching performances when the team is struggling. Hampton did exactly that pitching a complete game against the Marlins. Really, he did it all.

After five-and-a-half scoreless innings, Hampton, who nearly hit a walk-off homer yesterday, dropped a perfect bunt down to start a one out rally. He would then score on Joe McEwing‘s RBI double.

It should be noted McEwing got the first crack at replacing Rickey Henderson batting lead-off and playing left. McEwing would look nothing like Henderson out there, which is to say, he played defense and hustled. For example, in the first, Hampton was in trouble allowing the first three batters batters to reach via single.

On the third single by Kevin Millar, McEwing charged hard and came up throwing. His aggressive defense led to the Marlins holding Mark Kotsay at third where he would stay after a Preston Wilson strike out and Derek Lee GIDP.

The Mets were up 1-0 after McEwing’s double, but they were not done there. On McEwing’s double, the throw from Danny Bautista got away allowing McEwing to go to third. Brad Penny would walk Derek Bell, and then on the second pitch of the at-bat to Edgardo Alfonzo, Bell stole second. That’s where you saw one of the most bizarre decisions you will ever see. Marlins manager John Boles ordered Alfonzo be intentionally walked in front of Mike Piazza.

No one is going to deny Alfonzo is clutch and a great hitter, but intentionally walked Alfonzo after a 2-0 count to face a future Hall of Famer is beyond a dubious decision. Piazza would make the Marlins pay for their disrespect by hitting a grand slam to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.

That was all the help Hampton needed.

The Marlins couldn’t get anything going against Hampton until the eighth. In fact, after the three singles in the first, the Marlins didn’t get another hit until the eighth inning. The Marlins again had three straight singles to start an inning only this time, the third single would drive home a run. Hampton then recovered by getting the next three outs and retiring six of the last seven batters he faced.

Suddenly, the Mets are back to a game over .500, and things look the way the team drew them up before the season . . . even if those plans no longer call for Henderson leading off and playing left.

Game Notes: The Mets have replaced Henderson on the roster with Mark Johnson. He is wearing John Olerud‘s old number 5.

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: Rickey Gone And Mets Still Lose

The Mets finally got rid of Rickey Henderson. The Mets finally had enough of his lack of hustle and his attitude. According to Bobby Valentine, it wasn’t just him, but the players as well. Combine that with his threatening a reporter, and the Mets finally got rid of the future Hall of Famer. Given how he has been purported to be the issue with the team, you’d think they’d right the ship immediately.

They didn’t.

The Mets are really running out of excuses as to why they are playing as terribly as they are. A team who was once six games over .500 is now at .500, and they have lost four out of the five games they have played against the Marlins. This is the same Marlins team who lost 98 games last year and 108 the previous season.

The Mets had a 2-0 first inning lead in this game. Derek Bell hit a one out homer, and then later in the inning, Todd Zeile hit an RBI single. At that time, the Mets had runners in the corner with one out, but the rally ended there when Benny Agbayani hit into an inning ending double play.

As an aside, Agbayani is one of the players who should benefit from Henderson’s release. Agbayani went from coming THIS close to beginning the year in the minors to being on the cusp of an everyday role. Others who may benefit include Joe McEwing, who made his Mets debut starting in center before moving around the field.

That Mets lead grew to 3-0 in the third. Bell hit a lead-off single, and he’d steal second. Paul Bako‘s throw was wild allowing Bell to go to third on the play. He would score an unearned run on Robin Ventura‘s RBI ground out.

Unfortunately, this 3-0 was not enough for Pat Mahomes to protect. With the injury to Bobby Jones, and the complete ineffectiveness of Bill Pulsipher, Mahomes was again thrust into a starting role. For the first three innings, he kept the Marlins off the board. Starting in the fourth, they’d begin to hit him hard.

Preston Wilson, who is starting to wear out the Mets, led off the inning with a double. He’d then score on a Kevin Millar two run homer. Mahomes would get that run back with an RBI double off opposing pitcher Vladimir Nunez in the bottom of the inning to extend the Mets lead to 4-1. He’d then pitch a scoreless fifth, thanks in part, to an inning ending double play after Luis Castillo reached on an error.

In the sixth, the trouble started for Mahomes the way it usually does for any pitcher – the lead-off walk. Cliff Floyd walked to start the inning, and he stole second. That allowed him to score easily on Wilson’s second double of the game. Turk Wendell would relieve Mahomes, but he would allow the inherited runner to score making this a tied 4-4 game.

When Zeile homered off of Ron Mahay to lead off the bottom of the sixth, that’s where the Mets should have put this game away. That gave the Mets a 5-4 lead late in the game. That meant the Mets bullpen, which is supposedly superior to the Marlins’, would be able to close this one out. They didn’t.

Again, it was Wilson who killed the Mets. Dennis Cook started the seventh, and he was didn’t have control. Castillo had reached on a lead-off single. He’d then plunk Floyd with one out. That put two on in front of Wilson who hit a three run homer to give the Marlins a 7-5 lead.

Not wanting to lose this game, Valentine went to Armando Benitez. Benitez got the last five outs of the game which gave the Mets a chance. They would have their chances, but they failed to capitalize.

In the eighth, Todd Pratt, who started this day game after the night game, hit a two out single. Sensing his chance to get the win, Valentine sent Mike Piazza up as a pinch hitter for Kurt Abbott against Braden Looper. Instead of Piazza hitting the game tying blast, he struck out. Then, Valentine pinch hit Jon Nunnally for Jay Payton. Despite Looper not being good against left-handed batters, Nunnally struck out to end the inning.

It should be noted at that point, Valentine had emptied out his bench completely. Actually, there was one bat left, but that bat was Rey Ordonez, who is injured and unavailable. That meant Valentine was going to have to use a pitcher in the ninth as a pinch hitter. It is really difficult to defend that complete lack of foresight and decision making.

You could say it cost the Mets.

McEwing led off the ninth with a double against Antonio Alfonseca, and he’d score on an Edgardo Alfonzo RBI single. Now, instead of having Piazza to bat here or even Nunnally, the Mets had Mike Hampton. For a second, Valentine looked like a genius when Hampton got a hold of one, and he appeared to hit a game winning two run homer. Instead, it went foul, and Hampton would wind up striking out in the at-bat.

With two outs, Zeile kept the rally alive with a single pushing Alfonzo into scoring position. That’s where Alfonzo would stay as Matt Franco grounded out meekly to Alfonseca to end the game.

With the loss, the Mets are at .500, and they look like a team completely lost. They are getting beat up by the Marlins, and they are trying to use interchangeable parts in their outfield and rotation. For now, the only thing they can hope for is Hampton to once again play the role of stopper and get the Mets back on track tomorrow.

Game Notes: McEwing was up because Melvin Mora was placed on the DL. He had busted up his index finger and needed stitches on a bunt attempt on Friday. This will put the shortstop duties squarely on Abbott until Ordonez feels healthy enough to play again.

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.t

2000 Game Recap: Mets Can’t Overcome Six Run Deficit

Well, this is a redux of the Ryan Dempster/Glendon Rusch match-up in Miami last week. In that game, Rusch was terrific in that game, but he would be out-dueled by Dempster who threw a one hit shut out. Today, neither pitcher would be nearly at the same level. Part of that could have been the slick conditions for a game which had a 25 minute rain delay at the start.

For Rusch, this is now two bad starts over his last three. Entering the fifth, the Mets were already down 2-0 after Dempster hit an RBI double in the second, and Preston Wilson hit one in the third. At 2-0, the Mets were still very much in the game. They wouldn’t be that after the top of the fifth.

First, it was a three run homer by Wilson, and later that inning, Derek Lee hit a homer. That expanded the Marlins lead to 6-0. Rusch had allowed six runs on 12 hits, including those two homers. After throwing 98 pitches, he was done for the game, and unlike his prior starts, he would be a deserving loser in this game.

What was frustrating for the Mets up until that point was they had their chances, and they didn’t have to wait until the sixth to get a hit off of him.

In the first, they wasted a Rickey Henderson lead-off single, and they did the same with Todd Zeile lead-off singles in the second and fourth. Of course, part of the Henderson wasted lead-off single was Henderson’s signature lack of hustle. He thought he hit one out against Dempter beginning his home run trot. Instead, what he had was a single that hit the wall. With his speed, even at this age, that should never happen.

After falling behind 6-0, the Mets were finally able to get to Dempster, not just in this game, but in 2000.

Henderson got the Mets started with a one out single and then a stolen base. He would then score easily on a Derek Bell RBI double. After Bell, Mike Piazza and Robin Ventura would go back-to-back. Suddenly, the Mets were in this game pulling to within 6-4.

After the Ventura homer, the Mets continued the rally. Jon Nunnally drew a two out walk, and Melvin Mora singled. That brought up Kurt Abbott to the plate as the go-ahead run. He’d pop out to end the inning. From there, the Mets would muster just one more hit the entire game.

Even though they only had one more hit, that doesn’t quite mean they had no more chances. In the sixth, Bell doubled putting runners on second and third with one out. Dempster would rear back and strike out Piazza, his final batter of the game. Armando Almanza relieved Dempster, and he struck out Ventura to end the inning.

In the eighth, Almanza would walk two batters giving the Mets first and second with two outs. With Piazza coming to the plate, the Marlins went to Braden Looper. Looper would get Piazza to ground out meekly to first to end the inning.

The shame of it was the Mets bullpen did their job. Turk Wendell (two innings), John Franco, and Armando Benitez shut down the Marlins over the final four innings. However, when your offense isn’t taking advantage of their opportunities, it doesn’t matter. In the end, this was just another ugly loss to a bad Marlins team; one which has pushed the Mets back to just one game over .500.

Game Notes: Edgardo Alfonzo was held out of the starting lineup with a sore calf, but he was able to pinch hit. With Rey Ordonez‘s shoulder injury, that meant the Mets middle infield was Melvin Mora at second, and Abbott at short. The Mets have officially decided to have Pat Mahomes start in Bill Pulsipher‘s place tomorrow.

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: Pulsipher Looks Done

As an organization and as a fan base, we  are always going to root for Generation K to finally figure it out and become the aces we all hoped they would be. However, each time any of them takes the mound, we get further and further away from the time we thought they were going to be the trio who would be the ones who brought the Mets to their first World Series since 1986.

Bill Pulsipher might’ve thrown three scoreless to begin the game, but it was a tightrope walk. In the first, he walked two batters. In the second, he allowed back-to-back singles. In the third, he allowed a double to Cliff Floyd. Despite the trouble, Pulsipher managed the tight rope walk. In the fourth, there was a big gust of wind from the Marlins batters swings knocking him right off.

In the top of the fourth, Derek Bell hit a lead-off solo homer to give the Mets a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately, having a lead did little to calm Pulsipher down. If anything, it made things worse.

Derek Lee and Alex Gonzalez led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and after a Gonzalez stolen base there were runners at second and third with no outs. After Mike Redmond struck out, the opposing pitcher, Alex Fernandez hit a two RBI double. The Marlins were off and running, and they wouldn’t trail for the rest of the game.

After the Fernandez double, Pulsipher allowed consecutive singles to Luis Castillo, Mark Kotsay, and Cliff Floyd. At that point, it was 4-1 Marlins, and Bobby Valentine brought in Rich Rodriguez to relieve Pulsipher.

When it comes to the 2000 Mets, it is likely Pulsipher will be a footnote in what is hopefully a season where the Mets win a World Series. However, in the grand scheme of things, you do wonder if that is it for Pulsipher in a Mets uniform. This is now his second straight start where he just wasn’t up to the task, and the team already traded him away once. He was the first member of Generation K to make his debut, and he may be the first one to see his Mets career or even his Major League career end.

There is a certain sadness to that.

For now, it is about this game, a game the Mets were routed by a bad Marlins team. To be fair, it should be pointed out the Marlins did start Fernandez, who is the last hold over from the 1997 World Series winner. Fernandez certainly pitched like the very good pitcher we know him to be.

For the Mets, it seemed fortunate he had to leave with an elbow injury, but the Marlins bullpen also shut down the Mets. On the Mets side of the ledger, Rodriguez had walked Preston Wilson when he first relieved Pulsipher to load the bases, and then he got bailed out of the inning. On a Lowell sacrifice fly, Floyd got caught in a run down.

Rodriguez did his job pitching 2.1 innings, and Turk Wendell showed no ill effects from the sprained ankle. While Rodriguez and Wendell did their jobs, Armando Benitez struggled. He allowed a lead-off double to Brant Brown, and he issued two walks loading the bases. Wilson then hit a grand slam.

That took a game within reach to a 5-1 route. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, but a loss like this is all the more frustrating. First, the Mets gave themselves little chance with Pulsipher on the mound, and then, they really had no chance when Benitez allowed the grand slam. Mostly, it is frustrating because the Mets are not playing well right now losing five of their last six.

Game Notes: This was the fifth homer Benitez has allowed this year raising his ERA to 6.88. At the moment, there are no plans to give the closer duties back to John Franco.

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: Leiter Stopper For Reeling Mets

The Mets were reeling after getting swept in a four game set against the San Francisco Giants, and they had to make a cross country flight. This is as difficult a situation a team can face to begin a three game set. Fortunately, waiting for the Mets was a very bad Marlins team.

The Mets offense mostly stymied in San Francisco went to work immediately as Rickey Henderson got on via a walk, got over, and finally scored on an Edgardo Alfonzo sacrifice fly. That lead grew to 2-0 when Rey Ordonez hit a second inning RBI double.

The Marlins did get one of those runs back in the bottom of the second when Mike Redmond singled home Alex Gonzalez. But, that was it for the Marlins as Leiter would allow just two more hits the entire game. However, it wasn’t all easy.

Leiter got himself into trouble in his final two innings on the mound. In the sixth, he allowed a lead-off walk to Luis Castillo, and he’d walk two batters to load the bases with just one out. He then reached deep down to strike out Mike Lowell and Derek Lee to end the inning.

In the seventh, there runners at first and second with one out after a Redmond double and Mark Smith walk. Leiter got Castillo to fly out before striking out Mark Kotsay to end the inning. That last strikeout was Leiter’s ninth of the game.

At that point, Leiter was done for the game, and the Mets were up 3-1 as Mike Piazza hit a fourth inning solo homer against Jesus Sanchez. That was an interesting side note.

With the Mets series of trades with the Marlins during the Marlins post-1997 World Series fire sale, we got to see many former Mets against many former Marlins. For example, Preston Wilson was one of the centerpieces in the Piazza trade. Also, Sanchez was one of the key pieces in the Leiter trade. Today, Leiter out-dueled Sanchez to beat his former team.

That Mets lead grew to 3-1 when Braden Looper got wild in the eighth walking the bases loaded. Armando Almanza relieved Looper, and he walked Robin Ventura to force in a run. With the three run lead, Bobby Valentine turned to John Franco to get his first save of the year. Franco pitched a 1-2-3 inning to earn his first save since losing the closer job due Armando Benitez preserving the 4-1 victory.

Game Notes: This was Franco’s first save since June 24, 1999. Alfonzo was banged up but played, and Turk Wendell missed the game with a slightly sprained ankle after he kicked a water cooler in San Francisco. This led to Pat Mahomes pitching in a set-up role.

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. 1 Mookie Wilson

With COVID19, we don’t get baseball. Instead, we have memories of baseball. Our favorite games, moments, and players. Each team has their own legends who are mostly remembered for their own contributions. In an effort to recognize that, we are going to run down the greatest players in Mets history by going through the uniform numbers.

We begin at number 1, which in Mets history has become synonymous with Mookie Wilson.

The best stretch in Mets history began with him because on September 2, 1980, he batted lead-off and played center field for the Mets. In that game, Wally Backman was also in the line-up, and with that the first two members of the 1986 World Series champion roster were in place.

Much like the Mets as a franchise, Mookie had to fight for everything he got as he was constantly being challenged for playing time. In 1986, that came in the form of Lenny Dykstra, who had a great rookie season. Mookie would eventually force his way into the lineup taking over left from the released George Foster.

That situation became all the more complicated in the subsequent offseason when the Mets obtained Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin Mitchell and prospects. Through this time, he would have to platoon, and he would be frustrated by the process seeking a trade at one point. Still, through it all, he remained a Met.

In fact, Mookie was one of the longest tenured Mets in history. When he was finally traded in 1989 to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the longest tenured Met on the team. He was also the longest tenured Met when they won the World Series in 1986. In fact, when he departed, only Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones had played more games than him.

Over his 10 years with the Mets, he was the team’s all-time leader in triples and stolen bases. He was also third in runs and doubles. Really, at that point in Mets history, he was top 5-10 in most offensive categories. This shows how much of an impactful player he was for the franchise. That was perhaps best exhibited in his having the single greatest at-bat in team history:

In that at-bat, Mookie battled like few others we have seen in baseball history. Despite falling down 0-2 against Bob Stanley with the next strike ending the World Series, Wilson would take two pitches evening up the count at 2-2 before fouling off two pitches. The next pitch was the wild pitch.

Looking back at it, it was incredible he got out of the way of the pitch. His getting out of the way of the pitch allowed Mitchell to score from third and to permit Ray Knight to get into scoring position. He then fouled off another pitch before hitting the ball between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In that moment, the Mets made one of the greatest comebacks not just in baseball but sports history.

Mookie’s Mets contribution did not end there. He’d return to the franchise as a first base coach working on Bobby Valentine‘s staffs. On that note, he’d be standing in the first base coaches’ box during Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. That means Wilson was there up the first base line for two of the most improbable postseason comebacks with the Mets facing elimination.

Mookie is also the father of Preston Wilson, the former Mets prospect who was one of the headliners headed to the Miami Marlins for Mike Piazza. This only speaks to everything Mookie was. He was much more than the baseball player who got married at home plate in the minor leagues. He has been a good man and eventually became an ordained minister.

Through and through, Mookie is Mets baseball. He is an important figure in team history, and he is certainly the best ever player to wear the No. 1 in team history.

Family Restrooms Are For Families Only

For those people who have been places with children and have had someone in the family needing to use the bathoom, former Major Leaguer Preston Wilson said what finally needed to be said:

This reminded me of an “incident” I recently had at Citi Field. To be fair, to call it an incident is probably overstating the case, but as a parent, I did assert my rights to use the designated family restroom with a family.

To put things in perspective, I have over an hour drive to get to the ballpark. After that, there is the process of putting sunscreen on the kids and then waiting on lines to enter the ballpark. After going up the escalator, the first thing my five year old tells me is he has to go to the bathroom. Honestly, at that point, who doesn’t?

In addition to my son having to use the bathroom, I have to change a baby’s diaper. That’s now two people who have to use the bathroom and a toddler who needs his diaper changed. This is the EXACT scenario why family restrooms exist. Of course, based on my personal experience, I have yet to come across a vacant family restroom at Citi Field.

That was until a few weeks ago. In this particular moment, the heaven’s seemed to open, and someone departed the family restroom just as I was walking towards it. With the family in tow, I made my way in as a group of adults stopped to alert me there was a line.

Again, a group of adults. No children in sight. They wanted to stop a family from using the . . . wait for it . . . family restroom.

With myself standing in the door frame, I politely asked if they had children who needed to use the restroom or had a baby who needed a diaper change. When they predictably said they didn’t, I told them they could wait and closed the door.

What is beyond stupid was there needed to be this exchange. It’s one thing to use the family restroom when no one is present. However, for the life of me, I cannot fathom the level of self entitlement involved in telling a family they need to wait so an adult can use a bathroom not designated for them.

These bathroms exist so parents can use the bathroom while keeping their children in a confined space where they don’t have to worry about them. These bathrooms exist to provide families with the space and privacy needed. They exist because if a child has an accident, you can change your child without them having to stand stark naked in the middle of a men’s or women’s room. It allows you to take care of multiple children at the same time without commotion.

These bathrooms are not for adults who like to do number two in a less used bathroom. They’re not there for adults convenience. These bathrooms aren’t for the public at large. They’re for people who actually need them. This is why Preston Wilson is 100% right saying those who use them are bad people.

Alonso And McNeil Power Mets

When the Mets bucked conventional wisdom and put Pete Alonso, the rationale was this was a tight National League East, and the Mets needed every possible game they can get. Well, in the second game of the season, Alonso helped them win a divisional game against the Nationals.

It began right away with his hitting a single in the top of the first to set up a three run first inning rally. That rally also featured a Wilson Ramos double and a Jeff McNeil triple (more on him later).

That three inning first would become a 4-1 lead when Alonso annihilated a Stephen Strasburg pitch for a double.

This Strasburg start should have the Nationals very worried. Any hope last season was a blip for him were quickly dashed. According to Brooks Baseball, he was throwing 93 MPH. Remember, this is a guy who used to be able to get it up to 100 MPH. Now, he looks ordinary, and the Mets made him look as such.

Strasburg pitched six innings allowing four earned on seven hits. His eight strikeouts were good, but it’s not going to do him as much good if he’s going to be this hittable.

Despite Strasburg’s struggles, he got the no decision.

The main reason was Noah Syndergaard wasn’t sharp. Like Strasburg, he allowed four earned over six. However, Syndergaard’s game shouldn’t elicit as much concern for the Mets.

For starters, he has never pitched well at Nationals Park. In five starts, he’s now 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA. With Syndergaard’s velocity and location there, you could chalk this up to the quirks of a pitcher just not pitching well at a particular park.

The other issue was Mickey Callaway pushing him too far.

Syndergaard looked done after getting a huge strikeout of Anthony Rendon to end the fifth.

At the time, it was 4-3, and Syndergaard was at 86 pitches. He was battling most of the game, and Victor Robles was set to lead off the inning.

Robles would hit a ball through the shift, and he turned it into a double with Michael Conforto not getting over in time. The Nationals would then get him over and in with a Kurt Suzuki sacrifice fly.

The game was 4-4 entering the bottom of the eighth, and as we would soon learn, the once again retooled Nationals bullpen stinks with Trevor Rosenthal, Matt Grace, and Wander Suero combining to give up seven runs over the final two innings.

The go-ahead hit was a J.D. Davis opposite field bases loaded single to give the Mets a 6-4 lead. Alonso would soon be heard from again hitting a two run double giving the Mets an 8-4 lead.

On the day, Alonso was 3-4 with a run, two doubles, and two RBI. The doubles were smoked. At the bag, he had a pick a few balls out of the dirt. Overall, this was a great game for him, and it was the exact type of game the Mets envisioned when they put him on the Opening Day roster.

As good as Alonso was, McNeil might’ve been even better. In addition to the first inning RBI triple, he had a ninth inning RBI double. On the day, he was 4-5 with two runs, a double, triple, and two RBI.

His ninth inning double made it 9-4, and Dominic Smith‘s two RBI single made it 11-4. With respect to Smith, he’s also had quite the start to the season. In his limited duty, he’s 1-2 with a walk and two RBI while serving as Alonso’s defensive replacement.

Unfortunately, this was not a laugher as the Mets bullpen was not quite up to the task with Justin Wilson being the only set-up man to do the job with a scoreless seventh.

In the eighth, after a Davis error, the Nationals loaded the bases with two outs against Jeurys Familia. Callaway didn’t risk the inning or game getting out of hand, and he brought on Seth Lugo.

Matt Adams swung at the first pitch and gave it a ride, but it would fall short with Conforto catching it near the wall.

With the Mets having a seven run lead, Callaway opted to not waste any more relievers, and he stuck with Lugo. For whatever reason Lugo didn’t have it.

As the Nationals rallied, Callaway wasn’t as quick to respond and the relievers weren’t getting loose quick soon enough.

Rendon was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and then Ryan Zimmerman hit a bases clearing double to pull the Nationals within 11-8. Even with there being two outs, Callaway had no choice but to go to Edwin Diaz, who needed just one pitch to record the save.

Behind the win and the success of the Mets duo of Alonso and McNeil (the latest Mets bromance) was a poor game by Callaway.

He started Davis over Juan Lagares and Keon Broxton, two superior defenders who also have had better offensive production in the majors. Davis responded with a 1-5 day with a big error.

Davis did deliver the go-ahead RBI single. On the play, the slow footed Ramos was at third. Instead of using Broxton to pinch run, he stuck with Ramos. The Mets got away with it.

Finally, while starting Lugo in the ninth was the right move, Callaway was probably too slow to react, especially with Lugo’s pitches not being sharp.

Still, even with the Callaway lapses, the Mets won mostly because Alonso and McNeil were great. The Mets have taken the first series from the Nationals and are now in a position to sweep the fist series of the year.

Game Notes: Wilson picked up the win in his first appearance as a Met. Alonso joined Conforto, Kazuo Matsui, Nick Evans, and Preston Wilson as Mets who began their careers with three hits and two extra base hits over their first two Major League games (hat tip Mathew Brownstein).

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

McDonalds Halloween Pails Are Back

One of the best things about being a parent is you get the opportunity to remedy the perceived wrongs from your childhood.  No matter how small or childish they may seem, we all have ones that linger.  One of my lingering issues was my parents not going out and getting the Halloween Pail Happy Meals when my brother and I were children.

You see the Mets winning the World Series wasn’t the only major event of October 1986.  I’ve never confirmed this, but I’m pretty sure Mookie Wilson got one of these for his stepson and nephew Preston Wilson.  Much like the Mets hopes of winning the World Series the following year, my hopes of getting a McDonald’s Halloween Pail were dashed in 1987.  My chances of obtaining one in 1989 were as much as nonstarter as the Mets chances were that year.  In 1990, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were closer to New York than I was to getting my Halloween Pail.  In 1992, there were no hopes for me or the Mets.  From there, the Halloween Pails all but disappeared.

That was up until last year when the Halloween Pails re-emerged.  Despite Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard not being alive in 1986, these trio of arms led the Mets to the World Series in the same year the Halloween Pails returned.  Never underestimate the power of the pails.  Like the good Mets fan and father (or petulant child) that I am, I made sure to get all four of them for my son who really had no clue who the Minions were or why he needed four of these pails.  That changes this year.

My son loves Peanuts.  He has loved them since we took him to see The Peanuts Movie, his first ever movie, for his birthday last year, and since he saw A Charlie Brown Christmas last year.  Like any child, he loves Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the whole Peanuts gang:

  
With that, we have now found the intersection where my son’s love of Peanuts and my need to get these Halloween Pails have met in the parenting Venn diagram.  With that, I have checked one thing off my parenting bucket list, and I will now seek out curing other perceived wrongs like never getting the chance to attend a Mets World Series victory parade.  I guess that one will just have to wait until next year.

To ensure that will happen, I think McDonalds will need to roll out an Avengers Halloween Pail featuring Thor, Captain America (David Wright), Iron Man (Steven Matz), and The Incredible Hulk (Lucas Duda).

By the way, the Great Pumpkin is on tonight: