With Wayne Randazzo accepting a position with the Los Angeles Angels, the New York Mets hired Brooklyn Cyclones radio announcer Keith Raad to join Howie Rose on WCBS 880 for the 2023 season. Raad was kind enough to agree to an interview to discuss his journey:
Congratulations on being named one of the New York Mets radio announcers for the 2023 season. Certainly, this must be a dream come true. Tell us about your journey from being a local boy and Chaminade High School graduate to being one of the radio voices of the New York Mets.
It’s a dream come true to make it to the Major Leagues and it’s even more surreal to do it in the city that I grew up in. New York City has always been a larger-than-life place for entertainment and of course that list includes sports. Growing up on Long Island, I learned about what kind of skills I had when attending Chaminade. The Marianist brothers and the teachers taught me how to write and the importance of public speaking — those things rung true within me. That led me to a degree in Communications in college at the University of Dayton where I jumped right in looking to combine my love of language, writing, speaking, and listening with baseball. I’ve spent close to 10 years calling games and eight years in the minor leagues. It’s so satisfying to pay my dues and jump into the Majors.
The Brooklyn Cyclones have the slogan “Amazin’ Starts Here!” As fans, we see that with players like Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo. However, as we see both you and Jake Eisenberg, now the Kansas City Royals radio voice, that applies to broadcasters as well. What is so unique about Brooklyn that it has served as a springboard to the majors for broadcasters like yourself.
First off, to be a Brooklyn broadcaster means you have to have a love — and a major respect — for history. In Brooklyn, Red Barber, Vin Scully, Connie Desmond, Ernie Harwell and many others called games for the Dodgers. Those voices came out of the origin of radio as a medium to deliver the game to an audience. By learning from how these guys did their thing in this borough, Jake and I were able to treat the job with great care and respect. The Cyclones enabled me to go from an up-and-coming broadcaster looking for his voice to being one who uses his voice and personality, trying to model it after guys like Howie Rose who I will now join in the booth.
Speaking of your time in Brooklyn, we are now well aware of the struggles for minor leaguers. Lesser known is all the duties and responsibilities of working for a minor league team. Personally, I’ve had the pleasure of working with you for group outings for various groups. I know I was shocked to be dealing with one of the broadcasters. For fans unaware, can you please share for us what a typical day is like for a minor league broadcaster?
Ha, so most situations are similar, but every once in a while as a minor league broadcaster, sales duties are part of the deal. That’s what enabled me to be a full-time member of the front office. In a typical day, I would arrive to the park at 10 a.m. and jump on the phones and email trying to sell tickets for group outings, season ticket holders, and sponsorships. I would do that until about 1 or 2 p.m. before jumping into my media relations duties, including writing our daily game notes, printing statpacks for the teams and the press box, distributing rosters and lineups. In the early afternoon, I would help the video staff grab players for social media videos. During batting practice, I tried to be around the turtle on the field just absorbing how the guys are acting and maybe asking a question or two to the players. Following batting practice, I would do about a five-minute pregame interview with a guest. All the while helping local media talk to any players or coaches they were interested in speaking to. Around 5:15 is when I actually can sit down, write in my scorebook and begin prepping for the game that night. Lots of work! I would leave around 10:30-11 a.m. an take the 75-minute subway home, rest, and get ready to do it all over again.
Obviously, that is a grueling experience. What was it that kept you going during those long days and undertaking so many responsibilities beyond just the broadcasting?
The minor leagues tend to ask you a question rather quickly: can you do this? And by that, I mean are you willing to “eat it” for years and years with low pay and long hours to make the majors? For me, I’m much more interested in going for the difficult things in life because we only have one go-around on Earth so why not? But I stuck with it because it is such a high-risk, high-reward pathway. And, looking back at all of those tarp pulls and low pay and feel so incredibly satisfied to now get to enjoy the reward of working in the big leagues.
What was your favorite moment as the broadcaster with the Brooklyn Cyclones?
By far the best moment came in 2019 during the 48 hours of winning the New York Penn League Championship, celebrating that night, and then going to Citi Field the following night as VIPs. My call of “Brooklyn, you have your title” after beating Lowell on September 10th led right into a champagne celebration with the team as well as the front office staff who worked so hard that year. Then at Citi Field, the Mets were kind enough to celebrate everyone (players, coaches and our front office) with a double suite and a video board tribute to our championship.
You’ve seen a number of talented players pass through Brooklyn. Who were some of the best players you’ve seen during your tenure?
Francisco Alvarez has some incredible raw power. His fiery attitude of wanting to be the best and refusing to compromise with any limitations makes me think he’ll have an incredible career. I think Alex Ramirez is extremely talented and already plays with a tremendous about of confidence — which you need in this game. Brett Baty is the most polished hitter I’ve personally seen in a Cyclones uniform. And with Ronny Mauricio, he’s really, really close to figuring it all out.
Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
This is a really tough question because at different stages of my career, there have been several different voices who have been critical. However, my first MiLB boss Tom Nichols in Dayton with the Dragons (Cincinnati Single-A) believed in me before anyone else did. He not only took a chance on me hiring me as an intern in the middle of college, but he also called me one summer during junior year getting my mind towards a summer collegiate job and getting me going. Without him, I certainly would not have had the direction and the structure to this career.
Understanding you were a New York Yankees fan growing up (we won’t hold it against you), who was your favorite player growing up, and if you could indulge us, your favorite Mets player?
Yeah, I get this one a lot obviously. It’s New York. I have to be honest. I grew up a Yankees fan, but the last five years with the Cyclones and the Mets have built bonds within me that grow miles deeper than any childhood fandom. I love the Mets. I pull for the Mets. The Mets are my family. But to throw you an even larger curveball, Albert Pujols was by far my favorite player. I modeled my baseball swing after him because I loved the art of hitting. Growing up, my Mets fandom struck right around 98-99-00 when I would go to Shea. There were so many cool players like Fonzie and John Franco. But I remember Benny Agbayani — I thought it was so awesome that he wore #50 because he was Hawaiian and that was the 50th state.
Years ago, a former Cyclones player Nicco Blank, reached out on Twitter to try to get Taylor Swift to see him pitch in Brooklyn. If you could have anyone tune the dial to WCBS 880 to hear you call a game, who would it be?
Ha, this is a great question. The answer is actually someone who already might be listening whether I know it or not. But my answer is Jerry Seinfeld! I grew up watching reruns of the show and immediately connected with his humor and started to follow his career (even though it already started haha). I view him as a role model. Comedians are very much like broadcasters in a few ways: we feel our journey is alone, we cut our teeth doing games/gigs for little to no money, and we’re constantly trying to listen back and critique our work on a nightly basis.
As you embark on this job, what is the moment you are anticipating most?
This is an easy one: the roar of the crowd. It’ll be unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on the air.
What is your message to Mets fans?
Let’s laugh, let’s have a good time, and let’s win a World Series.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us and good luck during the 2023 season.
For the 10th time in New York Mets history, the team is going to the postseason. This is truly a remarkable achievement, and it is a credit to Steve Cohen for his ability to quickly turnaround this franchise after the Wilpon disaster. Mostly, it is a credit to each and every one of the players on the field.
For a franchise who has double the amount of 90+ loss seasons than postseason appearances, this is a historic time in Mets history. It was worthy of celebration, and thankfully, the players were able to appreciate what they accomplished.
— New York Mets (@Mets) September 20, 2022
Unfortunately, the work is not done. Not by a long shot. At the moment, the Mets are still a game up in the division and tied in the loss column with the Atlanta Braves. That leaves this Mets team in a position where they have to do what no Mets team has done before – beat the Braves.
Yes, the Mets have actually beat the Braves en route to a World Series. Back in 1969, in the inaugural NLCS, the Amazin’s swept the NL West Champion Braves who featured future Hall of Famers in Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda, and Phil Niekro. However, since the Wild Card format, which put the Braves in the NL East, the Mets have never been able to overcome the Braves as an obstacle.
It really first began in 1998. We talk about the collapse of 2007, but this one might have been worse. All the Mets had to do was just win one of their final five games to force a one game playoff for the Wild Card. The Braves swept them the final series of the season despite not having anything to play for.
In 1999, the Braves appeared to leave the Mets in the dust taking two out of three putting the Mets behind the Cincinnati Reds heading into the final series of the season. The Braves truly thought they left the Mets in the dust with Chipper Jones boasting that the Mets fans could now go into their closets and get their New York Yankees gear.
The Mets survived, and they fought back from an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. John Olerud had the RBI single in the eighth inning in Game Four. Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single ending Game Five. In Game Six, Mike Piazza hit the game tying homer off John Smoltz in the seventh capping a comeback from 7-0.
After Melvin Mora singled home Benny Agbayani in the eighth, it looked like there was going to be a Game Seven. However, John Franco blew it in the eighth. After Todd Pratt‘s sacrifice fly in the 10th, again, it looked like a Game Seven before Armando Benitez blew the save (this was before we knew Benitez couldn’t handle these spots). Finally, in the 11th, Kenny Rogers just blew it.
In 2000, the Mets could not beat the Braves for the division title. They did win the pennant, but the Braves had already been taken out by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2001, the Mets seemed poised to do the impossible. They were a team who was playing out the string, but they appeared galvanized fighting for their city after 9/11. The dreams of the Mets returning to the postseason were dashed when again Benitez and Franco couldn’t get the job done. A Mets 5-1 ninth inning lead went by the wayside as Brian Jordan hit a walk-off grand slam.
From there, the Mets and Braves were never good again at the same time. Yes, the Mets would end the Braves tyranny atop the division in 2006, but the Braves were a distant third that season.
It would not be until 2021 until the Mets and Braves would clash for the division again. The Mets had spent 103 days in first place. The Braves charged, and they tied the Mets atop the division on August 6. The following day, they took control of the division and never relinquished it as the Mets went in MLB infamy for being the team with the most days in first place to finish the season with a losing record.
This Mets team has squandered a 10.5 game lead and a 3.0 game lead to start the month. Yes, the Braves have been playing incredible baseball. That certainly explains the lead shrinking by 6.5 games entering September. However, if the Mets had only taken care of business at the beginning of this month, they would be on firmer footing.
Right now, none of that matters. What matters is that there is the division. The Mets have 13 games remaining to prove they are the best team in the division. So long as they don’t get swept in Atlanta, they will own the tiebreakers. Really, all the Mets have to do is win games.
Put another way, this Mets team has to do what no other Mets team has done. They have to beat the Braves. If this happens, they will have accomplished what no Mets team has ever done. They will prove this team is different. They will show this team has what it takes to win the World Series.
One of the best things Steve Cohen has done in terms of fan engagement is Old Timers’ Day. The New York Mets now have their own history, and we now get the opportunity to celebrate it. Apparently, fans aren’t the only ones eager to celebrate it.
We have seen a number of players eager to return. Already on the docket are a who’s who of Mets greats including Mike Piazza, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Howard Johnson, John Franco, Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Daniel Murphy, Mookie Wilson, and many, many more. Really, Mets players are coming out of the woodwork to try to attend this event.
With every name came more excitement and more fond memories. Then, the Mets announced Jose Reyes was returning.
While the Mets were blowing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was in Hawaii grabbing his wife by the neck and throwing her into glass doors. The altercation was so violent, the hotel would need to call the police, and his wife would need to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries.
The Colorado Rockies (who also had Trevor Story ready) were so appalled they released Reyes. There was a debate whether Reyes would ever play a game again. After all, who in the world would want someone like that on their team? It’s one thing to deal with someone on your roster. It is a whole other to proactively go out and sign that player (or acquire him if you are the New York Yankees and Aroldis Chapman).
Well, frankly, the Mets were cheap morons, and their third base plan for 2016 was David Wright. That lasted until May 27. After that, the Mets were trying to figure it out on the fly. Instead of looking to make a trade, they opted to do the whole dog-and-pony show of trying to rehabilitate Reyes’ image.
Reyes was decent enough, and he had a big homer against the Philadelphia Phillies. The media acquiesced with the Mets demands and wrote the necessary articles (yes, they are 100% complicit) to support the Mets bold move to cheap out and take bad a wife beater. Everyone was so happy the Mets brought Reyes back.
Well, third base wasn’t good enough anymore for Reyes. With Asdrubal Cabrera‘s thumb injury, Reyes pushed his way to short. It was a bad year for Reyes, and it was apparent to the Mets, they needed to pivot. Amed Rosario was called up at the end of the year to be the shortstop of the future, and in the offeseason, they had to sign Todd Frazier to play the third base Reyes no longer wanted to play.
Reyes agreed to be the utility player. Anything to help the team. Again, just talk.
Reyes didn’t really put the time in to succeed in the outfield. He was terrible, and he stopped playing there. Then, the sham of the narrative he was going to mentor Rosario was exposed when he whined to the media about it. This came at a time when the baseball world was wondering if he was done and would soon be ticketed for being designated for assignment. Instead, he was rewarded with more playing time.
Despite the beating of his wife and acting bigger than the organization, he was given a big send-off as part of the Wright festivities. He got to retire as the Mets leadoff hitter and shortstop. He deserved none of this.
After he beat his wife, the Mets had kept throwing him olive branch after olive branch. None were good enough for him. He showed a complete lack of gratitude to this organization. And now, he’s going to be rewarded by being brought back for Old Timers’ Day like he didn’t beat his wife and wasn’t a completely selfish jerk on his way out?
Seriously? This is Wilpon level garbage and has no place in the Steve Cohen era. In reality, Reyes has no business being at Citi Field for Old Timers Day even if he bought his own ticket.
It used to be in order for a New York Mets player to have their number retired, they needed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a New York Met. That is why Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza had their numbers retired, and why Gary Carter didn’t. Had the Baseball Hall of Fame not treated Carter differently than every other Hall of Famer in baseball history, his number 8 would be in the rafters at Citi Field.
Somewhere along the way, perhaps not coincidentally coinciding with Steve Cohen’s purchase of the New York Mets, the Mets changed their policy on retiring numbers. First, it was Jerry Koosman. Then, it was Keith Hernandez. Certainly, we anticipate David Wright will be next followed by a massive argument amongst the fanbase as to who gets their numbers retired.
Therein lies the problem. When the Mets had a stringent policy, there was at least one. A player wasn’t slighted by not having their number retired, and they weren’t having their career or impact on the Mets belittled. Rather, there was a policy in place, but there was a Mets Hall of Fame available for some of the true Mets greats.
Now, there is admittedly a quagmire. While you can argue Koosman and Hernandez tweak the standard to impactful and great Mets who have won a World Series, Wright’s eventual number retirement will throw all of that out. What follows is really just chaos, and more importantly, a need for explanation on a number of players.
John Franco is the all-time leader in team history in saves, and he was the third team captain in history. You can argue his number should now be retired. If it should, do you double retire 31, or do you retire his 45? If you opt for 45, why not Tug McGraw too?
What happens to Edgardo Alfonzo? By WAR, Alfonzo is the Mets best middle infielder, and he ranks ahead of Hernandez in the rankings. He was part of the best infield in Major League history, was a clutch hitter, won a pennant, and he won the New York-Penn League championship as a manager.
Bud Harrelson was the first Met inducted into the team Hall of Fame, and he’s the only man to win a ring with the 1969 and 1986 teams. Howard Johnson was the first Met to have a 30/30 season, he’s the only Met to do it twice, and he was part of the 1986 Mets.
Of course, you have Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Both symbolize all that was great and went wrong with those 1980s teams. To this day, you could argue they’re also two of the most beloved Mets ever.
Everyone is going to have their line and opinion. Without clear standards, each and every one of these players will be slighted by not having their number retired. There are and will be more.
Yes, honoring Koosman and Hernandez is great. They deserve to be honored. It feels good to honor them.
What doesn’t sit right is all those who won’t get that honor now wondering why they haven’t.
Eduardo Perez announced the shocking and sad news that former Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano died in his sleep. While the cause of death was not known, we do know on the eve of what proved to be his final MLB season, Feliciano was diagnosed with a non-life threatening heart condition causing an irregular heartbeat.
We are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Pedro Feliciano. ?https://t.co/Y1DARwiMbc
— New York Mets (@Mets) November 8, 2021
The irony is with the New York Mets you never had to question Feliciano’s heart. The man was always at the ready, and it would eventually lead to him being dubbed by Gary Cohen as Perpetual Pedro. Time and again, Feliciano took the ball, and he would deliver.
With the passing of Feliciano, the Mets have lost the greatest LOOGY in team history. He may go down as one of if not the best ever. Consider that in a two year span he made more appearances than any left-handed reliever had made in MLB history. In fact, he was the only MLB reliever in history to put up three straight seasons with 85+ appearances.
The reason this happened was because Feliciano was both great and durable (just don’t tell that to the New York Yankees). He was almost always great. Case-in-point, in his first ever postseason appearance, he relieved John Maine in the fifth inning of the first game of the 2006 NLDS to strike out should be Hall of Famer Kenny Lofton to escape a jam and help the Mets win the game.
Overall, he had a 1.93 ERA that postseason getting the Mets out of a number of difficult spots. Feliciano would actually be the winner of the series closing Game 3 of that NLDS. That would make him the very last Mets pitcher to win a clinching game in the Shea Stadium era of the franchise.
He is a figure who should have a much higher stature in franchise history than he already has. In fact, only John Franco has appeared in more games as a reliever. Feliciano’s .212 batting average against and .263 wOBA against left-handed batters are the best in franchise history, both by significant margins.
When we lost Feliciano, we truly lost a great Met. In many ways, he was the quintessential Met. This was a player overlooked by everyone else, and he went out there and gave it his all. He was truly great at what he did even if the fame he should have received was fleeting. While there were other stops, at least in terms of the Major Leagues, Feliciano was only a Met.
May God bless Feliciano and his family. While that certainly includes the millions of Mets fans now in mourning, that especially applies to the wife and children who lost a great pitcher and better man.
Mike Piazza perhaps let the cat out of the bag when he intimated the New York Mets may start retiring more numbers. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization announced Jerry Koosman‘s 36 was going to be retired.
Looking at the Mets franchise history, this is quite the Steinbrenner type of move.
After the simply bizarre act of retiring Casey Stengel‘s number, the Mets put the highest of standards for retiring player numbers. In fact, prior to the Koosman announcement, it was an honor solely reserved for Hall of Famers.
It’s a standard which frankly makes sense. Number retirement should be an honor presented to the true legends of your franchise. By definition, that’s what the Hall of Famers are.
If we sort through team history, if not for a completely and arbitrary application of an theretofore unenforced rule Gary Carter would be in the Hall of Fame as a Met. That would’ve led to the retirement of his 8.
It’s also quite possible we may one day see Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran inducted. With that should come their numbers being retired. At least with respect to Hernandez, that would be an extremely popular decision.
Past that duo, the only player who you can conceive of hitting that level is Jacob deGrom. That’s something that needs consideration.
When a number is retired, the franchise is putting a player at the level of Tom Seaver, Piazza, and quite possibly deGrom. Looking at the team history, they don’t have players at that level. They really don’t.
That includes David Wright who is an extremely popular choice amongst the fans. If not for injuries, he very well might’ve. By the same token, if not for addiction, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry not only would’ve been at that level, but quite possibly, would’ve been a step above Wright.
Fact is Wright is a Mets great, but he’s not a baseball great. Yes, he deserves honoring by the Mets, but a number retirement is just too high of an honor. That should be reserved for the true legends to wear a Mets uniform.
Keep in mind, as discussed on the Simply Amazin Podcast, much of the case for Wright can dwindle over time. For example, if Michael Conforto re-signs, he should take over a good chunk of Wright’s records.
After that, we could see someone else surpass both players. Part of the reason is the records on the books isn’t particularly impressive for a franchise. Keep in mind, that’s not saying Wright’s career numbers aren’t impressive. They are. However, as a franchise leader, it’s not.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The issue just is where you start drawing lines.
For example, for all the push for Wright, John Franco remains the franchise all-time saves leader, has the most saves of any left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he was a captain. Despite that, there seems little to no push to retire his number even with his being a Met longer just as long as Wright.
Really, when you look at both, yes, they should be honored, but in reality, it should be short of number retirement. In reality, that’s why there’s a Mets Hall of Fame.
The answer should be to make the Mets Hall of Fame into a destination at Citi Field. Really showcase the Mets greats honoring them the way they should be honored. That’s far more fitting than trying to elevate players like Wright to the levels of Seaver.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with not having many numbers retired. In many ways, that makes that honor all the more meaningful. It’s better to keep it that way while also finding an appropriate way to honor the Mets greats who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
Tom Seaver did something unique in New York Mets history. When he took the field for player introductions before Game 1 of the 1986 World Series, he became the first pitcher to stand on the field for three separate Mets postseason games.
Of course, Seaver was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, and he never did pitch in that series. To date, no Mets pitcher has pitched in three separate postseasons for the Mets . . . yet.
Back in 2015, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia were big pieces of a Mets pitching staff which not only led the team to the postseason but also a pennant. They’d join Addison Reed as the only members of that 2015 staff to pitch in the ensuing postseason when the Mets lost the Wild Card Game.
They are just part of a group of Mets pitchers to pitch in multiple postseasons. The other pitchers in that group are Rick Aguilera, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Roger McDowell, Tug McGraw, and Seaver.
That’s a total of 17 pitchers who have appeared in two postseasons for the Mets. However, none have appeared in three.
If Syndergaard can return from Tommy John, and Familia can stay healthy and productive, they’re going to get that chance because this is an excellent Mets team. This is a team which should get there, and maybe this time Syndergaard and Familia can celebrate a World Series.
After that, with both being pending free agents, the question will be whether they’ll get the opportunity to get to pitch in a fourth postseason. Time will tell.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
For a moment, it had seemed Rick Reed turned the corner, had been past the injuries, and is now the pitcher he was early on in the season. That didn’t seem the case today as the Pirates roughed him up. Over the three innings he lasted, he allowed homers to John Vander Wal and Kevin Young.
In total, he allowed four runs in three innings, and he slogged through with 75 pitches. With the pitch count an ineffectiveness, he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the third.
While Jason Tyner didn’t get a hit, Melvin Mora would get a rally started with a bunt single. Later that inning, Derek Bell and Edgardo Alfonzo would hit a pair of RBI doubles. Combined with Robin Ventura‘s solo homer in the second, the Mets pulled themselves to within 4-3. It was going to be one of those games.
Pat Mahomes came in for Reed, and he was just okay. Over his three innings, he allowed two runs, which came on a Bruce Aven two RBI double in the fifth. After Ventura got one of those runs back in the sixth with his second solo homer of the game, Dennis Cook came in and was as bad as he’s been all season.
Cook allowed a leadoff homer to Brian Giles to start the seventh. Aven would double off of Cook, and later in the inning, Abraham Nunez would hit a two out RBI single giving the Pirates an 8-4 lead. With the way the Mets bullpen has been pitching, that lead seemed safe enough even for the Pirates.
That was until the bottom of the seventh when Mike Piazza jolted the Mets. After a Bell lead-off single, Alfonzo drew a walk. Both would score on a Piazza RBI double. Nunez would give back the run he knocked in when his error allowed Jay Payton to reach and Piazza to score.
The Mets were now withing 8-7, and Bobby Valentine wasn’t taking any chances with his leaky bullpen anymore. With the game on the line, he only trusted John Franco and Armando Benitez the rest of the way. The two would combine to shut the Pirates out over the final two innings and allow the Mets to take the lead.
After Bell drew a one out walk, he was knocked home on a game tying Alfonzo double. After Piazza struck out, Ventura was intentionally walked. Alfonzo and Ventura would come home to score on a go-ahead Todd Zeile RBI double.
When Benitez set the Pirates down in order in the ninth, the Mets turned what could have been a very troublesome game into a good come from behind win. As we see, their bullpen still needs a lot of help, but you will take wins like these whenever they come along.
Game Notes: It may be public posturing, but Steve Phillips has indicated he’s comfortable going forward with Melvin Mora and Kurt Abbott at SS the rest of the way. Before Reed’s short start here, the Mets had quality starts in eight of the last nine games. Piazza has a 13 game hitting streak.
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.
Well, in this three game series, it appears as if getting a 2-0 lead was a death knell. To that end, it seems fortunate Glendon Rusch walked the first batter of the game before allowing RBI singles to Bobby Abreu and Mike Lieberthal to give the Mets a 2-0 deficit before they ever came up to the plate.
The Mets got one of those runs back when Derek Bell hit a homer off of Cliff Politte in the bottom of the first. It was a much needed hit for Bell who was mired in a real 12-for-88 stretch (.136) at the same time Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton have taken off at the plate.
Just like the Mets did in the first two games of this series, after scoring their first run of the game, their offense went dormant. After Bell’s homer, Politte would retire the next eight Mets in a row. The Mets would get things started again in the fourth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Todd Zeile struck out to end the inning.
The Mets couldn’t cash in on rallies in this game, but the one thing they were able to do was hit the long ball. In the fifth, Melvin Mora tied the game on a solo homer, and then in the sixth, Payton hit a two run homer to give the Mets a 4-1 lead.
During this time, Rusch had settled in and gone to work after that tough 36 pitch first inning. In the fourth, he got out of jam with runners on first and second with two outs by getting Politte to pop out. In the seventh, he fought through a Robin Ventura error allowing the lead-off batter to reach. Through it all, Rusch pitched seven strong innings allowing just the two earned runs from the first inning while allowing seven hits and one walk. He would also strike out seven.
Rusch was lifted for the pinch hitter Lenny Harris, who hit a one out double. He’d come around to score later that inning on a two out RBI single by Bell. Little did we know it at the time, but the Mets would need that run.
While the Mets bullpen has been leaky of late, Turk Wendell has been good. He had not allowed a run over his last three appearances, and he had allowed runs once over his last eight appearances. Today, he was not good at all, and he nearly blew the game.
The top of the eighth started with a Scott Rolen homer. After that, Wendell walked Lieberthal, and Lieberthal went to second on a Todd Pratt passed ball. Pat Burrell, who at least didn’t homer today, reached safely on Ventura’s second error of the game. Kevin Jordan hit a sacrifice fly pulling the Phillies to within 5-4. Fortunately, Wendell retired Kevin Sefcik to get out of the inning.
Things were not nearly as eventful in the ninth. Beginning his second inning of work, Wendell retired Doug Glanville and Ron Gant. Bobby Valentine then brought in Dennis Cook to get the left-handed Abreu to end the game. With that, Cook had his first save of the season, and the Mets avoided the sweep.
Game Notes: After his time working on things in Triple-A, Bobby Jones is slated to make his next start against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Darryl Hamilton will start his rehab assignment next week. Armando Benitez called Mets fans dumb for booing John Franco yesterday, and he accused Mets fans of only wanting to see the bad. With his two errors today, Ventura passed his error total for all of last season.
Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.