Friday, July 22, 2016

30 Years Ago: The Game That Epitomized the 1986 Mets

Ray Knight tried to take Eric Davis's face clean off his face.  (MLB screen shot)

The 1986 Mets were a fighting team, both literally and figuratively.  They always fought back when faced with adversity and they never backed down from a fight (or four).  This never-say-die attitude carried the Mets to a team-record 108 victories and a world championship in October.

The team's 62nd win of the year probably epitomized the Mets more than any other game they played in 1986.  Their game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati had it all.

It had Darryl Strawberry being ejected by home plate umpire Gerry Davis for arguing a questionable strikeout call.

It had a brawl that cleared both benches (except for George Foster, who was thinking about what kids' impressions of him would be had he joined the fracas - he should have thought what they would think of his awful "Get Metsmerized" album instead).

It had Gary Carter participating in a double play as the 80th third baseman in team history.  (Since then, there have been 81 additional players to man the hot corner for the Mets, giving the team 161 third sackers, or 96 fewer players than have played left field.  Funny how everyone talks about all the third basemen in club history, but no one ever talks about the 257 left fielders.)

It had one of those 257 left fielders - Roger McDowell - playing musical chairs with his lefthanded pitching counterpart, Jesse Orosco, as manager Davey Johnson rotated McDowell and Orosco between the pitching mound and the outfield when the team ran out of players due to ejections and other substitutions.

It had a tie-breaking three-run homer by Howard Johnson - playing shortstop at the time - to give the Mets a hard-fought (pun very much intended) victory in the 14th inning.  It was the team's second five-hour game in three days after they dropped the finale in Houston in 15 innings two days earlier on a controversial call at the plate by umpire Greg Bonin.  (And that 15-inning affair came two days after four Mets players were famously arrested for - what else - fighting some crooked cops at Cooter's.)

The game in Cincinnati on July 22, 1986 - thirty years ago today - most definitely had it all.  And almost all of it would never have happened had three-time Gold Glove winner Dave Parker not enraged then-Reds closer John Franco by dropping what should have been the final out of the game in the ninth inning...

I hope you enjoy the video, courtesy of ClassicMLB11 on YouTube, which shows the entire game (including commercials!!).  For those not interested in sitting through five hours of sometimes grainy video, the Strawberry at-bat and subsequent ejection happen around the 1 hour, 36 minute mark.  The Parker gaffe occurred at 2 hour and 56 minutes.  The fight began around 3 hours and 29 minutes, then continues for many minutes after that.  Gary Carter playing third base and turning two happens at 4 hours, 20 minutes.  HoJo's homer occurs at 4 hours, 53 minutes.  And Orosco and McDowell rotate throughout extra innings.  Enjoy!

Shoutout to ClassicMLB11 for posting this video of the Reds' TV broadcast from 7/22/86.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Are the Mets Really a Second-Half Team? Not So Fast!

The Mets began the second half of the season on a positive note last night, defeating the Philadelphia Phillies by the final score of 5-3.  It was the kind of start needed by a team that expects to be in a heated race for the division crown or one of the wild card spots.

At the start of the midsummer break, a certain Norse god (and sometimes Mets pitcher) took to Twitter to remind Mets fans of what they should expect from the team during the second half of the season.

Well, Syndergaard's sole second half in the majors was in 2015, so his experience is one of a 43-30 record after the All-Star break after the team went just 47-42 during the season's first half - a first half that included an 11-game winning streak.

Sadly, Syndergaard did not consult me before sending out that tweet or else I would have given him a little history lesson.

Since the Mets moved to Citi Field in 2009, they had won just one second-half opener prior to last night's victory.  That win came in 2014 in San Diego.  The Mets were so busy celebrating their post-All-Star Game victory two seasons ago that they were in full hangover mode for the rest of the four-game series at Petco Park, dropping each of the next three games there.

In fact, since 2002, when David Wright and Jose Reyes were still pups in the minors and Bartolo Colon was still under 200 pounds, the Mets are a combined 35 games under .500 after the break, going 474-509.  That includes last year's team, which won nearly 60% of its games in the season's second half.  Compare that to what the Mets have done in the first half of each season since 2002, when the team gave us thoughts of October baseball on a regular basis, as they went 685-656, or 29 wins over the break-even point.

This can be taken back all the way to the early days of the franchise.  Since 1969, when the team posted its first winning season, the Mets have been above .500 at the All-Star break on 28 occasions in those 48 campaigns.  That's almost 60% of the time in just about half a century's worth of seasons.  However, the Mets have only been able to post winning records in the second half just 23 times since 1969, meaning they've had sub-.500 second-half records more than half the time going back nearly five decades.  And that includes the 1975 and 2014 seasons, when the Mets finished one game over .500 in each campaign's second half (39-38 and 34-33, respectively).  It also includes the 1994 season, when the Mets went 15-11 in the abbreviated second half, as a strike killed the season just one month after the All-Star Game was played.

As much as we, as Mets fans, would like to think that our beloved team has traditionally been a second-half team, the truth of the matter is that the team has usually played its best baseball during the first halves of each season.  Of course, last year's team was an exception, but that was because the Eric Campbells, Darrell Cecilianis and John Mayberrys of the first-half world were replaced by the Michael Confortos, Juan Uribes and Yoenis Cespedeses of half No. 2.

Sandy Alderson may just upgrade the team in the next few weeks leading up to the trade deadline on Aug. 1, but the more likely scenario is that the players currently on the team will have to find a way to get healthy, stay healthy and make sure their bats and arms are healthy as well.

A Yoenis Cespedes-like savior isn't going to walk through that door this year.  And if he does, he better make sure he doesn't trip, fall and end up on the disabled list as he passes through it.

If Cespedes keeps going down, so will the Mets' chances of returning to the postseason.  (Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sweepin' Ain't Easy ... Said No One at Citi Field This Weekend

After looking deflated and defeated in losing three games to their division rivals in Washington, the Mets came home for a four-game series this weekend against the Chicago Cubs, who have been the best team in baseball all season.  The series would mark the 58th time since 1962 that New York and Chicago had squared off for four consecutive games.  And in their first 57 four-game series, the Mets had taken all four games just one time.

But thanks to some timely hitting, effective pitching and a monster 6-for-6 game by Wilmer Flores, that is no longer a true statement.

New York completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs today, defeating the North Siders, 14-3.  They scored seven runs in the second inning to give Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester his shortest outing in over 300 career starts just one day after he won the National League Pitcher of the Month award for the just-completed month of June.

The Mets won the four games by blowing out the Cubs twice (they also defeated the Cubs, 10-2, on Friday) and taking two nailbiters on Thursday and Saturday, both by a 4-3 score.  Basically, they continued their dominance over the Cubs that began last year during the four-game NLCS sweep.

But as great as the Mets have performed against the Cubs over the last eight months, they had only won every game of a four-game series from Chicago just once in 57 tries.  In 1985, during the first series between the two teams after their battle for division supremacy the previous year, the Mets brought out the brooms against the Cubs in a four-game set at Shea Stadium, allowing a total of just four runs in the series.

Screen shots or it didn't happen.  (Courtesy of Ultimate Mets Database)

The Mets went on to win all nine games they played versus Chicago at Shea Stadium in 1985, taking a three-game series in August and a two-game set in September.  But the four-game sweep marked the first and only time New York had won every game of a four-game series against the Cubs in the team's first 54 seasons.  Until now.

And if you want to say that it's very difficult for any team to win four consecutive games in the same series against the same team, perhaps you should know what the usually lowly Cubs have done against the Mets in four-game sets since their first one in 1962.

That first four-game series in June 1962 at the Polo Grounds resulted in four Cubs victories.  It should be noted that the Cubs finished that campaign with a 59-103 record, which was - and still is - the worst regular season record in Chicago's long history.  (The 1966 Cubs also went 59-103.)

A year later, the Cubs swept another four-game series from the Mets, this time at Wrigley Field.  Then in 1965, the Cubs added a third venue to the four-game sweep-a-thon, taking four straight from New York at Shea Stadium.

It then took nearly two decades for Chicago to win all four games of a four-game series against the Mets, but they finally repeated the feat in 1984, scoring 32 runs in the four August games at Wrigley Field.  The Cubs had previously pulled off four-game sweeps against three awful Mets teams in 1962, 1963 and 1965.  However, the 1984 Mets squad won 90 games.  It wasn't just pushover Mets clubs that were experiencing the wrath of the Cubs in four-game sets.

Let's now fast forward seven years later to 1991.  On August 9, the Mets went into Wrigley Field with a 57-50 record.  They were still very much alive in the race for the N.L. East title, entering the game just 5½ games behind the first place Pittsburgh Pirates.  But the Cubs, who were struggling and under .500 entering the series, took out their frustrations on the Mets, winning all four games.  The sweep was the beginning of a season-changing 11-game losing streak for the Mets.

It was déjà vu all over again for the Mets in 1992, as once again in August, the Mets were still in the race for the division crown - they were 7½ games out of first - but were swept four straight in Chicago.  That sweep was the beginning of a 21-35 stretch for the Mets to close out the season.

With the Cubs moving to the N.L. Central in 1994, the Mets and Cubs only played five four-game series from 1994 to 2014, with none of them resulting in sweeps for either team.  But in 2015, the Cubs pulled off a four-game sweep of the Mets at Wrigley Field in May.  Of course, we all know how that season turned out for the Mets.

So that means the Mets suffered four-game sweeps to the Cubs seven times from 1962 to 2015, returning the favor just once in 1985.  Once.  In fifty-four seasons.

But now that number has gone up to two, as the Mets have just completed a four-game sweep of the Cubs at Citi Field - the only venue in which the Cubs have yet to turn the trick against the Mets.

Sweeping a series of any length - particularly a four-game series - may not be easy, but don't tell that to the Mets.  They treated the series the way Cubs used to treat four-game series against the Mets.  And in doing so, fans got to witness something they hadn't seen the Mets do as a team since 1985.

The Cubs are the cleanest team in baseball after they just got swept by the Mets.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Broken News: Milestones Within Reach For Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes has experience at doing what he's not supposed to do.  Now we'll see if he's changed.  (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Welcome to yet another edition of Broken News, where someone else breaks the news and then we break some more.  Unless if you've been laying under a rock or beneath Bartolo Colon, you already know that the Mets have brought back Jose Reyes into the fold.  Obviously, his recent domestic violence issue is being discussed by anyone with an opinion.  That means all of us.

But that is not what we are intending to do with this blog post.  We'll leave that to people who know far more about the topic than we do.  Instead, we're going to stick to what we do best.  We're going to stuff numbers down your throat.  (Not to worry, some of them are tasty.  Some may even be gluten-free.)

When Jose Reyes left the final game of the 2011 season after dropping down a bunt in the first inning for the 1,300th hit of his career, we thought that would be it and he would never add to his numbers as a Met.  But once he ends his short stint in the minors, he will continue to make his way up the Mets' all-time offensive leader board.  He will also be approaching several career milestones.  Here is what he will be shooting for.

Mets Milestones Within Reach For Jose Reyes:

Reyes needs one triple to become the first Met to have 100 three-baggers.  Mookie Wilson is the only former Metropolitan who made it halfway to triple digit triples in his career, legging out 62.  Cleon Jones is third in Mets history with 45 three-base hits and he needed a dozen seasons to get there.

With 222 doubles as a Met, Reyes is currently fourth among all players who suited up for the team.  However, with four doubles, he would pass another former No. 7, Ed Kranepool, for third place.  Seven more two-baggers would put Reyes ahead of former teammate Daniel Murphy, who ended his Mets career with 228.  Reyes will probably have to settle to No. 2 all-time in doubles, as David Wright is well ahead of the pack with 390 two-base hits.

Jose Reyes currently sits at No. 3 in team history with 1,300 hits.  Since he is under contract through the 2017 season, it's reasonable to think that he will eventually pass Ed Kranepool at some point into second place.  Kranepool collected 1,418 hits in his Mets career.

During his first stint in New York, Reyes played in 1,050 games, good for 10th place on the club leader board.  Depending on when he is called up to the big leagues and how often Terry Collins decides to use him, Reyes could pass Edgardo Alfonzo (1,086 games), Darryl Strawberry (1,109 games) and Mookie Wilson (1,116 games) before the end of the 2016 season.  Playing time in 2017 for Reyes could cause Howard Johnson (1,201 games) and Jerry Grote (1,235 games) to move down a peg.

As a leadoff hitter, Reyes was supposed to get on base and score runs, but he was also quite adept at driving in his teammates when they were on base.  With 34 RBI, Reyes will pass Kevin McReynolds into 10th place in franchise history in runs batted in.  Reyes would need 46 RBI to move past Keith Hernandez into ninth place.

Career Milestones Within Reach For Jose Reyes:

Depending on when his second tour of duty with the Mets begins, Reyes has a chance to reach 2,000 career hits this season.  He currently stands at 1,906 hits, needing 94 safeties to reach the milestone.  Reyes just turned 33 a little over two weeks ago.  Only 81 players in history have reached 2,000 hits by their age-33 season.  Why is that important?  Because 23 of the 29 hitters who eventually made it to 3,000 hits had already reached 2,000 by their age-33 season.

Reyes needs 21 stolen bases to reach 500 for his career.  Should he make it this year, not only would he probably have more stolen bases than all of his new Mets teammates combined, but he'd be just the 24th player in the modern era (since 1901) to achieve that feat.

In the dead ball era (prior to 1930), triples were commonplace.  That's not the case anymore.  Reyes now has 117 career triples, making him one of the few modern players to surpass 100.  In fact, in the last 30 years, only the retired Steve Finley (124 triples) and the rarely-used Carl Crawford (123 triples) have legged out more three-base hits than Reyes.  Jose would need just eight triples to become the most prolific triples-hitter of the past three decades.

Unfortunately for him, Reyes might need more than triples to get fans back on his side.  (Getty Images)

Say what you will about Jose Reyes.  You may not like him as a person right now.  You may never like him the way you used to even if he helps the Mets reach great heights.  But what he accomplished on the field prior to what he did off it this past winter made him one of the most exciting players of our generation.

Boo the name on the back of his jersey.  Cheer the name on the front.  And bear witness to several franchise and career milestones that we never expected Reyes to approach in a Mets uniform.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Memories of Baseball on Father's Day

As we reach another Father's Day, let's take a break from discussing the Mets' recent ups and downs (mostly downs).  Today is not a day to discuss why the Mets seem to have fewer timely hits than Kajagoogoo, nor is a day to talk about how the Mets lead the league in mental errors.  (Sending Flores to the plate with no outs in the ninth?  Really?)  Rather, today is a day to reflect on a special man in our lives.

He is the man who more than likely showed us how to throw our first curveball, took us to our first ballgame and showed us the proper way to order a ballpark hot dog (which I seem to have forgotten once prices passed the $4.00 mark).  I'm talking about fathers.

Just as we have surely had many Father's Day memories, both pleasant and not so pleasant, the Mets and Major League Baseball have also had a number of noteworthy moments on Father's Day.  Here's a small sample:


On Father's Day 2004 (June 20), Cincinnati Reds outfielder (and new Hall of Famer) Ken Griffey Jr. hit the 500th home run of his career at St. Louis' Busch Stadium.  At the time, he was the youngest player to reach that milestone.  Making it more fitting, Ken Griffey Sr. was in attendance to help celebrate his son's momentous occasion.

Nothing like a little Griffey love to get this post started.

On Father's Day 1997 (June 15), Major League Baseball instituted its first Home Run Challenge to benefit prostate cancer research.  Now in its 20th season, the Home Run Challenge has raised nearly $45 million in the hopes that a cure can be found for this devastating disease that affects millions of men worldwide.

(Note to all men reading this.  Please go to your doctors and get checked. Early detection can save your life, enabling you to share many Father's Day moments with your loved ones.)

Early prostate cancer detection is serious business.  Even if it is a pain in the ass.

In one of the most ill-fated trades in Mets history, beloved members of the 1986 World Championship team Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell were traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for Juan Samuel on Father's Day 1989 (June 18).  Samuel would have a tumultuous time playing center field for the Mets during his short stay at Shea and was later traded for another dud, Mike Marshall.  Dykstra would become an All-Star in Philadelphia and helped lead the Phillies to the 1993 World Series.  McDowell pitched seven more seasons after the trade and would become famous to Seinfeld fans for his role as the man who spit the magic loogie on Kramer and Newman when they confronted Keith Hernandez after a Mets loss. 

Just as Tom Seaver's trade is known as the Midnight Massacre, this day should be known as The Day The Hotfoot Died.  On a lighter note, sales of Jheri Curl products increased in the New York metropolitan area ... by one.

"Let your Soul Glo..."

Jim Bunning of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a perfect game at Shea Stadium on Father's Day in 1964 (June 21) when he defeated the Mets by the final score of 6-0.  Bunning struck out ten batters en route to becoming the first National League pitcher to toss a perfect game in the 20th century and the first pitcher in the modern era to throw a no-hitter in both leagues.  He pitched his first no-hitter in 1958 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Hall of Famer Jim Bunning made Shea Stadium's first Father's Day game a memorable one.

Please forgive the abundance of Phillies pictures in this post.  It is unintentional and is not meant to dampen your Father's Day festivities in any way.  If so, the photo beneath the next paragraph should bring a smile to your face, especially if you are a long-time Mets fan.

Ralph Kiner was always the king of malapropisms.  From classic lines such as "if Casey Stengel were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave" and "all of his saves have come in relief appearances", Ralph mangled words and phrases with grace and dignity.  One of his most famous quotes came on Father's Day as well, when during a Mets broadcast, he said "on Father's Day, we again wish you all a happy birthday!"

R.I.P. Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy.  You will always be missed.

One final note before you go have a catch with your son or daughter.  Mets fans are well aware of the fact that no pitcher in franchise history had pitched a no-hitter before Johan Santana turned the trick on June 1, 2012.  But prior to Santana's gem, the Mets had had several no-hitters pitched against them, including the perfect game tossed by the aforementioned Bunning in 1964.  (Let's not talk about last year's no-nos by San Francisco's Chris Heston and Washington's Max Scherzer.)  Before Santana accomplished his historic feat four years ago, the Mets weren't the only team that had never pitched a no-hitter.

The only team currently without a no-hitter to its credit has also been around since the 1960s.  The San Diego Padres have played 47 years since their inaugural season in 1969 and have never had a no-hitter pitched for them.  Hmm, Padres.  That's Spanish for Fathers.  On that note, I can't think of a more fitting way to end this than by wishing all you fathers out there a Happy Birthday!  (I mean, Father's Day!)


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

June 15, 1983: Ten-Year-Old Me Shares Memories of My First Mets Game

The Internet did not exist in 1983.  Neither did winning baseball at Shea Stadium.  As a ten-year-old Mets fan in '83, I knew as much about the World Series as I did the World Wide Web, as both were still years away from becoming a reality.

So when my Little League team decided to attend a Mets game together on Wednesday, June 15, 1983, I was naturally excited but I didn't have a forum to document my experience.  (My mother had discovered my diary just a weeks before the game and because of her find, I wasn't allowed to write in it anymore.  Censorship at its overprotective motherly worst.)

It's been exactly 33 years since I attended that game, so I thought now would be a perfect time to finally tell that story.  To make this recap even more special, I have decided to allow my ten-year-old self access to my computer.  I figured more people would be able to read the recap that way instead of trying to read it on my just-returned-to-me diary.

Take it away, Eddie!

Hi, everyone!  My name is Eddie Leyro and I'm ten-and-a-half years old.  I just got home from Shea Stadium where I saw my first-ever Mets game!  I went to the game with my Little League team and some of the coaches and I had an awesome time.  Well, it would have been better than awesome had the Mets actually won the game.  But stupid Rusty Staub made a dumb error in the tenth inning that helped the Chicago Cubs win the game.  I mean, seriously.  Even Orko from the "He-Man" cartoon could've made that play and he floats in mid-air!

Anyway, the game started with Craig Swan sucking more than Madonna's music.  (I mean, do you really think she's going to have a long career as a singer?  She's no Toni Basil!)  Swan was knocked out of the game in the second inning after giving up an RBI single to Bill Buckner in the first and allowing Jody Davis, Mel Hall and Ryne Sandberg to drive in runs in the second.

Once Swan hit the showers, I figured I'd hit the concession stand with my teammates, David and Robby.  But I never got my hot dog because the coaches had to get off the line to break up a fight by our pitcher, Walter and our second baseman, Ricky in the bathroom.  Walter was also the son of our manager, so you can imagine who got blamed for starting it.  (Hint: Not Walter.)  Needless to say, I never got my hot dog.  The coaches made us all go back to our upper deck seats and no hot dog vendor came around.  The only other time they allowed us to get out of our seats was when a few of the guys had to go to the bathroom.  I didn't go because I don't like peeing in public.  I'm as afraid of public restrooms as B.A. Baracus is of flying on a plane.

Anyway, by the time we got back to our seats, the Mets had already scored a run to cut the Cubs' lead to 4-1 and I just managed to see my first major league home run, a shot by Hubie Brooks in the bottom of the third to make it 4-2.  I didn't get why people were booing him until I was told that the fans were actually saying "HUUUUUUUUUU-bie".  Baseball fans are very weird.

The fans also cheered a message that was posted on the DiamondVision about some guy named Keith Hernandez.  Apparently, he was just traded to the Mets for a few pitchers.  He can't be as bad as the guys already on the team, right?

Oh, I almost forgot!  The Mets tied the game right after the DiamondVision announcement on an RBI double by Jose Oquendo and a run-scoring single by Danny Heep.  But of course, Heep got greedy like Boss Hogg and got thrown out trying to get to second base.  Had Heep not gotten thrown out, the Mets might have taken the lead in that inning.  Instead, the game was just tied, 4-4, and stayed that way through nine innings.

Maybe if Danny Heep didn't have such a big ear flap on his helmet, he'd have seen he was going to be out by a mile.

Coach Walter, Sr., announced that we would stay for the tenth inning, but we'd have to go home if the game kept going.  It was a Wednesday night and we had to go to school the next day.  So I started praying for the Mets to hold the Cubs scoreless in the tenth and then maybe Hubie Brooks could hit another home run to win it in the bottom of the inning.  But while I was alternating between one of my many Hail Marys and Our Fathers, the Cubs scored three runs, all because our first baseman, Rusty Staub, made a lousy error.

The Mets didn't score in the bottom of the tenth, as Hubie Brooks made an out and the skinny rookie, Darryl Strawberry, grounded into a double play to end the game.  All I kept thinking as we walked down the Shea Stadium ramps was:
a)  This Keith Hernandez better be a good first baseman so that this Rusty Staub guy isn't allowed to make more stupid errors.

2)  Why do we have to go down these long ramps when there are escalators all over the place?

iii)  Oh, snap!  I never got my hot dog!
So that's it.  My first Shea Stadium experience.  Craig Swan sucked.  My teammates fought in the bathroom.  And Rusty Staub should never play first base again.  But at least the experience was more fun than having to sit through another rerun of "The Facts of Life", which I would have done had I stayed home.  (They should really move "Magnum P.I." from Thursday to Wednesday.  That would be, like, totally awesome.)

I hope you liked my recap.  Maybe I should ask my mom to get me a Commodore 64.  It's sure a lot better to write on than my diary! 

I certainly didn't adore my easily-read diary.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Wild Finish in Milwaukee Allows the Mets to Accomplish Something They Hadn't Done Since 1985

Jeurys Saves!  And what a wild game he ended up saving...  (SNY screen shot)

The Mets defeated the Brewers at Miller Park on Friday night by the final score of 2-1, needing a bizarre play in the 11th inning to push across the go-ahead run.

Clearly, Milwaukee's infielders had not watched Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video, as they attempted to retire Kelly Johnson after they had already retired him.  By losing track of which runner they needed to tag in the bases-loaded, one-out situation, Asdrubal Cabrera was able to hustle home with the Mets' second run of the game.  And once Jeurys Familia recorded his 70th career save (passing Neil Allen into 8th place on the team's all-time saves leader board in the process), the Mets were able to celebrate a highly unorthodox victory.

Six pitchers combined to allow just three hits in the 11-inning affair, as Matt Harvey, Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo, Jim Henderson, Jerry Blevins and Familia all contributed to the win by striking out 15 batters, with each hurler fanning at least one Brewer.

The low-hit, extra-inning effort was a rarity in Mets history, as it was just the fourth time the team had ever allowed no more than three hits in a game that lasted at least 11 innings.  And it was the first time they accomplished the feat since June 12, 1985 - almost 31 years ago to the day.

That date in 1985 looks awfully familiar.  Maybe it's because of what happened the day before...

After accomplishing the feat for the first time in 1967 (an 11-inning complete game win by Bob Shaw) and then repeating it in 1976 (Craig Swan and Skip Lockwood combined on the 14-inning three-hitter), the Mets waited until 1985 to record their third such game, when Ron Darling, Jesse Orosco and Rick Aguilera combined to allow three hits in the team's 11-inning victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on June 12.  What made that effort even more spectacular was that it came just one day after five Mets pitchers combined to give up 26 runs to the Phils - the most runs ever scored against the Mets in a single game.  The Von Hayes Game, as it's now known because of the Phillies' leadoff hitter's two homers and five RBI in the first inning alone, is still brought up by Mets fans whenever the team gets completely embarrassed by its opponent on the diamond.

The Mets have yet to allow as many as 26 runs in another affair since the Von Hayes Game.  (No team has crossed the plate more than 19 times in any contest against the Mets since June 11, 1985.)  And since the day after that forgettable game that no one can seem to forget, the Mets had also not played a game of at least 11 innings in which they gave up three hits or fewer.  Until Friday night, that is.

An unusual play in extra innings helped the Mets earn a win in Milwaukee on Friday night.  It also helped the Mets accomplish something they hadn't done in over three decades.  As the old saying goes, if you watch the game long enough, you're bound to see something you've never seen before.  If you watched the Mets game on Friday, you saw something you couldn't have seen more than three times before.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Joey's Small Bites: My Words of Encouragement For Noah Syndergaard

Hello, everyone!  This is Studious Metsimus roving reporter/culinary expert Joey Beartran.  I was in attendance on Saturday night for the 1986 World Champion Mets reunion at Citi Field.  And although the pre-game ceremony honoring the Mets' most recent championship team was done quite well, the one thing most people were taking away from their night at the park was the ridiculous ejection of starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard after he "honored" No. 26 on the Dodgers by throwing a fastball about 26 inches behind Chase Utley's rear end.  It should be noted that Utley put former Mets shortstop on *his* rear end last October, causing Tejada to be removed from the game and the rest of the postseason with a broken leg.

After Syndergaard was ejected, manager Terry Collins lost his cool and got in the face of home plate umpire Adam Hamari, who not only shares initials with Met-hating umpire Angel Hernandez, but was also just three years old when the 1986 Mets were pounding their way to a title.  In fact, Hamari had blown out three candles on his birthday cake just two days before when Ray Knight pummeled Dodger pitcher Tom Niedenfuer after Knight was plunked with a pitch in May 1986.  For the record, neither Knight nor Niedenfuer lost the right to continue playing in that game, probably because Hamari was too busy wetting his diaper at the time instead of officiating the game behind the plate.

Anyway, I caught up with Syndergaard after the game and offered him some encouragement after he was thrown out of the game for having the nerve to throw a pitch that wasn't in the strike zone to Utley, which was documented by my colleague, Studious Metsimus photographer Ed Leyro.

Thor still had that surprised look on his face when I caught up with him.

I told Thor that Hamari has always managed to find himself behind the plate for important events.  On June 25, 2014, he was working the plate during Tim Lincecum's second career no-hitter.  Three months later, Hamari served as the home plate ump during Derek Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium and paid his RE2PECTs to the shortstop when Jeter delivered a storybook walk-off single to win the game for the home team.  Must have been nice for Michigan native Hamari to see Michigan native Jeter come through in that moment.  So I comforted Thor by letting him know that Hamari's presence should have been a sign that this game would become a big story in the majors.  And then everyone forgets and we all move on.

I also told Syndergaard that a victory for the Mets was not meant to be, as I spotted Marlins Man sitting behind the plate for the game.  It's well known that the Mets never play well when the orange-clad supporter of South Florida's baseball team shows up at their games.  (World Series Game Five comes to mind.)  At least Marlins Man seemed to think that Hamari's quick trigger finger was uncalled for when Hamari tossed the Norse god out of the game for not hitting Utley.

Do you see Marlins Man highlighted in the upper left-hand corner?  He reacted just like Thor did.  (FOX screen shot)

Between Hamari being the Forrest Gump of umpires by being at important moments in baseball history and Marlins Man's attendance signifying a loss for the Mets, it was never going to be Syndergaard's night to shine at Citi Field.  The night belonged to the 1986 Mets and Adam Hamari's poor judgment.

Fortunately, my post-game talk with Thor got him to see why everything happened the way it did last night.  In fact, this morning he was on Twitter in better spirits, clearly thanks to my talk with him after the game.

If Bartolo Colon decides to throw a pitch that is deemed too close to Utley's body in tonight's series finale, Syndergaard will be ready to relieve Big Sexy in the event there is another unwarranted ejection (even if manager Terry Collins decides to go with a conventional reliever).  And this time, Adam Hamari wouldn't be behind the plate to prevent Syndergaard from finishing what he started on Saturday.  It would be the perfect ending to the script that began writing itself the moment Utley threw his body into Ruben Tejada's leg last October.  And it would be a great way to honor the 1986 Mets, by standing up for each other even when others are trying to bring the team down.

Chase Utley must be shown that he is not as invincible as the league and the umpires would like him to feel.  The Mets must find a way to crack his armor once and for all by sending him and his greasy scalp sprawling on the Citi Field dirt where he belongs.

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's Time to '86 the Booing of Doug Sisk

The Mets will be celebrating the 30-year anniversary of their most recent world championship this weekend at Citi Field.  The highlight of the weekend will be the on-field ceremony on Saturday honoring the members of the 1986 World Series winners.

Ten years ago, the Mets also reunited the '86 champs on the field before the start of a Saturday night game at Shea Stadium.  The evening was gloomy and rainy on August 19, 2006, but the weather did not dampen the spirits of the 42,810 fans in attendance at big Shea.  All of the former players had to dodge raindrops as they entered the field to a huge ovation during their introductions.  But one player had to dodge something other than rain as he took his position on the field, as Doug Sisk continued to be subjected to the barrage of boos that have rained down upon him in Flushing for over three decades.

(Jacqueline Duvoisin/Getty Images)
Doug Sisk was signed as a 22-year-old amateur free agent in 1980.  Two years later, he completed his quick ascent to the major leagues.  In eight late-season games for the Mets in 1982, Sisk was quite effective, allowing just one run (a home run by future Hall of Famer Andre Dawson) in 8⅔ innings.

Sisk's first full season with the Mets in 1983 was nothing short of spectacular, as he posted a 2.24 ERA in 104 innings - all in relief.  In doing so, he became just the fifth pitcher in team history to throw 100 or more innings while pitching exclusively in relief, joining Tug McGraw (1972), Skip Lockwood (1977), Jeff Reardon (1980) and Jesse Orosco (also in 1983 - Orosco reached the 100-inning mark two weeks before Sisk did).

Amazingly, Sisk allowed just one home run in those 104 innings in 1983, and once again, it was a future Hall of Famer who took him deep (Mike Schmidt).  To this day, Sisk is the only pitcher in club annals to pitch more than 100 innings in a season and allow fewer than three home runs in that campaign.

As great as Sisk was in 1983, he was even better in 1984, especially during the first half of the season.  Through July 1, Sisk had recorded 11 saves and was the owner of an otherworldly 0.50 ERA, allowing three earned runs in 53⅔ innings.  Opposing hitters were batting just .165 against the right-hander and slugging (if you want to call it that) at a .188 clip.

Sisk had always pitched to contact, nibbling at corners hoping to get batters to swing at his best pitch - the sinkerball.  As a result, hitters didn't collect many hits (just 29 of them through July 1), but they also drew their share of walks (31 bases on balls).  Still, the object of the game for a pitcher is to keep the opponent off the scoreboard and few pitchers were as effective at doing that during the first half of the 1984 season as Doug Sisk was.

As the weather got hotter in July, so did the race for the N.L. East crown between the Mets and Cubs.  But one player who melted in the heat, unfortunately, was Doug Sisk.  Sisk allowed runs in six of his 12 outings during the month.  From July 28 to August 6, Sisk made three appearances on the mound.  All three times he pitched against the Cubs.  All three times he allowed runs.  And all three times the Mets lost.  Sisk was then placed on the disabled list with what the team called shoulder stiffness.  But the reliever begged to differ, claiming the transaction should not have happened.

''I don't think they should have disabled me,'' Sisk said.  ''I've had soreness in the shoulder in the past, and have pitched with it.  It's demeaning to me to be put on the disabled list.  It wasn't necessary.  It makes me feel they intend to trade me before next season.''

Upon his return from the disabled list, Sisk made five more appearances for the team in 1984.  He held the opposition scoreless in four of them.  The one time he was scored upon was - you guessed it - against the Cubs on September 8.  And that's when the fans began their routine of booing Sisk every chance they got.

Ghosts boo.  You shouldn't.  Especially when it comes to Doug Sisk.

Sisk came into the game with the Mets trailing the Cubs by two runs.  He faced 14 batters in two innings, allowing eight of them to reach base.  But just two of them scored.  Wes Gardner then relieved Sisk and allowed two more Cubs to score.  Cubs pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who went on to win the Cy Young Award that season, pitched a complete-game shutout as Chicago knocked off New York, 6-0.

Now here's what gets me.  The Mets were shut out in that game.  Sisk came into the game with the Mets already trailing by two runs.  Which means the Mets would still have lost that game even if Sisk had pitched two perfect innings.  Now let's go back to the three consecutive appearances against the Cubs prior to Sisk's stint on the disabled list.  The first one (July 28) was definitely on Sisk, as he came into a tie game and allowed four runs (three earned).  But the other two?  Not so much.

On July 29, Sisk took the mound in the ninth inning with the Mets trailing the Cubs, 2-0.  He then allowed the Cubs to tack on an insurance run.  The Mets failed to score in the bottom of the ninth and lost, 3-0.  That result was certainly not Sisk's fault.  Eight days later, Sisk entered the game against the Cubs with the Mets already trailing, 7-3.  He pitched a scoreless sixth, then put up another zero in the seventh.  Sisk then allowed two runs in his third inning of work and the Mets lost to Chicago, 9-3.  Again, New York would have lost even if Sisk had not allowed two runners to cross the plate after he had already pitched two scoreless innings.

When Sisk pitched his final game before being "disabled", the Mets' record was 62-45.  When he returned on August 31, the Mets were 73-58.  That means the team posted a losing record (11-13) while Sisk was recovering from his "injury".  I'm sure the boo birds found a way to blame him for that sub-.500 record as well.

Overall, Sisk finished the 1984 campaign with 15 saves and a 2.09 ERA - numbers that are still quite impressive, but not enough to make fans stop booing.  It didn't help that Sisk posted a career-worst 5.30 ERA in 73 innings the following season in 1985.  But Sisk recovered nicely in 1986, and had fans stopped booing for just a second during that glorious campaign, they might have noticed that Sisk had quite a comeback season.

Sisk lowered his ERA in 1986 by more than two runs, finishing the year with a 3.06 mark.  He also didn't allow a single home run in 70⅔ innings - not even to a future Hall of Famer.  How unusual was it to pitch that many innings and not give up a single long ball?

Without generating this chart for me, you'd still be booing Doug Sisk.

As you can see, in the Mets' 50-plus years of existence, only five pitchers have thrown at least 30 innings in a season without allowing a home run.  The only one to surpass 36⅓ innings in a tater-free campaign was Doug Sisk in 1986, and he pitched almost twice as many innings as the next closest gopherless pitcher.  And since the Mets came into the league in 1962, there have been only a dozen occasions in which a pitcher threw more innings than Sisk in a season without allowing a home run, as detailed in the chart below.

I wonder if the other pitchers on this list had to put up with constant boos from their home crowd.

Sisk pitched twice in the 1986 postseason and guess what?  He didn't give up a run when he pitched against Houston in the NLCS and he held Boston scoreless in his lone World Series appearance.  And on both occasions, he climbed the hill at Shea Stadium, which must have disappointed the people who were looking for someone to heckle.

The Mets failed to repeat as world champions in 1987, but Sisk had another solid season.  He pitched 78 innings - his highest regular season total since his fabulous 1983 campaign - and posted a 3.46 ERA.  He also walked just 22 batters, averaging 2.5 walks per nine innings, which was the lowest ratio of his career.

When the Mets were battling it out with the St. Louis Cardinals for the division title in September, it wasn't Sisk who gave up the crushing, season-changing homer to Terry Pendleton.  That was Roger McDowell.  And when New York was still mathematically alive during the last week of the season, Sisk wasn't on the mound giving up a walk-off blast to light-hitting pinch-hitter Luis Aguayo.  That was Jesse Orosco.  In fact, from August 31 until the end of the season, Sisk pitched ten times and recorded a 2.08 ERA.  Even more impressive was the slash line against him, as opposing hitters could only manage a .208/.240/.229 mark in those ten appearances spanning 13 innings.

But let's boo Sisk and give McDowell and Orosco a pass for their contributions to the final month of the 1987 campaign.  It's what all the cool kids are doing, right?

One threw his glove up in the air, while the other had fans who just didn't care.  (Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images)

On Saturday night, the Mets will honor all of the members of the 1986 World Series champions.  It will be a weekend to cheer the heroes of the past, not boo the one person who has been unjustly blamed for the Mets not winning the division crown in 1984 and who had just one bad season during his six-year career in New York.  Sadly, that person will not be in attendance for the reunion, as Doug Sisk - along with former teammates Kevin Elster, Roger McDowell and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre - will be skipping out on the festivities.

For those of you who would have booed Sisk relentlessly had he been joining his teammates this weekend at Citi Field, here are some of his numbers as a Met.  Out of all the pitchers in franchise history who threw at least 400 innings for the team, Sisk's 3.10 ERA is tied for the seventh-lowest mark.  Other pitchers in the top ten include Tom Seaver (2.57), Jesse Orosco (2.73), R.A. Dickey (2.95), Jon Matlack (3.03), Jerry Koosman (3.09) and Dwight Gooden (3.10).  You probably associate those pitchers as Cy Young Award winners, Rookie of the Year Award recipients or pitchers who recorded final outs in the World Series for the Mets.  In other words, Sisk is in good company.

In addition, Sisk allowed just 11 home runs in 412⅓ innings during his time with the Mets from 1982 to 1987.  That's an average of 0.24 homers per nine innings - the lowest of any pitcher with at least 400 innings in team history.  The only other hurler with a ratio under 0.50 is Roger McDowell, who gave up one of the most heartbreaking home runs in club annals when he allowed Terry Pendleton to take him deep on September 11, 1987.  The ten players behind Sisk on this list include the usual suspects - Seaver, Koosman, Matlack, Gooden, Orosco - as well as other notable pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Bob Ojeda and David Cone.

To put it bluntly, Sisk was a damn good pitcher, one who deserves to be honored along with his fellow 1986 world champions.  It took an entire 24-man roster to win the World Series in 1986.   Doug Sisk was one of those two dozen competitors.  And as such, he should be treated like a champion.  A festive celebration is no place to air grievances.

Even though Sisk won't be there to hear the roar of the crowd, Mets fans should leave their boos outside the rotunda when they enter Citi Field on Saturday.  It's time to finally give Doug Sisk the long-overdue cheers he deserves. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Joey's World Tour: Mile High Clubbed

Greetings from 5,280 feet above sea level! (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Hi, everyone!  This is Joey Beartran and it's time for me to share my latest story as I make another stop on my world tour of ballparks.  If you recall, the last stop I made was in Cincinnati, where I witnessed the Mets clinching the 2015 National League East division title.  But as the saying goes, "It was the best of the times.  It was the worst of times."  And whereas the Cincinnati trip was as good as it gets, the trip to the Mile High city was ... let's just say the opposite.

I'm not concerned about spoiler alerts.  I'll just come out and say it.  The Mets were clubbed by the Rockies in a three-game sweep.  New York scored just nine runs in the three games - the fewest they had ever scored in a series at Coors Field.  How bad was it for the Mets during the lost weekend in Denver?

They lost the first game to Jon Gray.  It was Gray's first big league win.  It took him 14 starts in parts of two seasons to earn that elusive first victory.

They lost the second game to Eddie Butler.  This is the same Eddie Butler who has a 6.70 ERA and 1.82 WHIP at Coors Field in three seasons as a Rockie.

They lost the third game to Tyler Chatwood.  Well, Chatwood's a good pitcher.  But the Rockies' bullpen continued to stymie the Mets.

In the three games, Colorado's relief staff allowed no runs in eight innings.  The two main relievers who befuddled the Mets' batsmen were closer Jake McGee and set-up man Charlie Sheen (but you can call him Carlos Estevez).  Estevez was anything but a Wild Thing, as he struck out four batters and walked none in two innings.  Meanwhile, McGee earned saves in all three games, also walking none while fanning three in the trio of victories.  Prior to the sweep, Estevez had a 6.00 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP, while McGee was one of the worst closers in baseball, posting a 4.97 ERA and a .300/.364/.480 slash line against him prior to the series against the Mets.

Apparently, the Mets didn't get the memo that they were facing lousy pitchers at Coors Field.

How could the Mets miss this large sign letting them know where they were?  (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

But enough about the games.  Let's talk about what I did in and around the ballpark.  Baseball results notwithstanding, I actually had a fun time in Denver and the surrounding areas in Colorado.

Inside the ballpark, there are many things that you're not going to find in any other stadiums.  For example, one of the first things you'll notice when you look up is a purple row among the sea of green seats where the fannies can rest their fannies.  That row is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level, or exactly one mile - also known as the distance Yoenis Cespedes hits balls in batting practice.

Unlike Citi Field (and most other ballparks), you're allowed to walk down to the seats behind home plate during batting practice.  Another thing I noticed was that even though ushers at every section in the park don't allow you to go to your seat until an at-bat is completed (after all, that is proper baseball etiquette), they don't check your ticket to see if you actually belong in that section.  Good to know in case I pay for $4 tickets in the Rockpile (the area with bleacher-style seats high above straightaway center field) and want to move down a little closer to the action.

But when I don't mind being a mile high in the stadium, I can relax in the new Rooftop area high above the right field corner.  Up there, they have a few full bars with lots of domestic and craft beers, a lounge area, HEAT (for those cold early and late season games) and good music (for when the crack of the bat doesn't provide you with enough sonic stimulation).

In case you forgot, I'm not just the Studious Metsimus roving reporter.  I'm also the culinary expert.  So my time at Coors Field wouldn't be complete without discussing some of the food choices inside the park.  Here's the first thing I noticed about the food.  It's reasonably priced!  You basically have to have a seafood option or a large barbecue plate to spend more than ten bucks on one item.  The same thing applies to adult beverages.  A margarita in a small cup at Citi Field will cost you $12.  At Coors Field, a slightly larger cup is only $8.25.  And they put plenty of salt around the rim, as opposed to the ones sold at Citi Field.  (My Studious Metsimus colleagues filed that report, as I'm too young to partake in those types of drinks.)

A great place to eat inside the ballpark is the Smokehouse.  (The full name is the Smokehouse at the Blue Moon Co. at the Sandlot, which sounds too much like it should be run by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County on Planet Earth in the Milky Way Galaxy.)  In addition to having just about every kind of meat available for nachos, they had excellent baked potatoes with lots of free toppings. (Bacon is considered a free topping here - yes, please!)

There's also a Helton's Burger Shack in the left field corner, which features a burger and sauce made from brisket, shoulder and sirloin.  Forget the fries when you order this burger.  You have to go with the humongous onion rings as your side.  Seriously, they're huge.

If you're craving Italian food, the ballpark has a special wing dedicated to delicacies from the country shaped like a boot.  And for dessert, you can have a Berrie-Kabob, which is a misspelled berry on a skewer.  Actually, I kid.  It's actually strawberries and bananas covered in white or milk chocolate all pierced by a long stick.  I may have asked for a couple dozen of these.

Smokehouse and Helton Shack Burger photos courtesy of the Denver Post.  All other photos by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus.

The delicious food helped ease the pain of the three losses suffered by the Mets.  But Coors Field also brought back painful memories.  For example, the Rockies are very proud of their lone National League pennant, and they like to remind all those who enter the park with banners and sections of the scoreboard devoted to their one World Series appearance in 2007.  If you recall, that was the year the Mets gift wrapped the division title to the Phillies, while the Rockies waltzed by the Mets for the wild card, which led to an unlikely pennant for Colorado's baseball club that in the minds of most Mets fans should have been won by New York.

Thinking of the 2007 season upset me more than it should have, so I was joined by my sister, Iggy, as we decided to escape into the Rockies team store.  There we were met by a wall of Dingers, where we were greatly outnumbered by the effigies of the Rockies mascot.  But at least Iggy made a friend or three when she noticed some bears in Rockies shirts.

Now that we're talking about the past, I should mention that prior to last year, the Mets hadn't appeared in a World Series since 2000, and the player who helped propel them to the Fall Classic that year was NLCS MVP Mike Hampton.  The same Mike Hampton left the Mets at the end of that season to enroll his kids in the fine Colorado school system.  (Never mind the nine-figure, long-term contract given to him by the Rockies.  It was the schools that made him sign it, dadgummit!)

Hampton may not have replicated his success on the mound as a member of the Rockies in 2001, but he did do quite well at the plate that year, winning a Silver Slugger Award, which the Rockies celebrate with a banner in the field level concourse.  On a related note, the Rockies also like to point out who they defeated in the first game ever played at Coors Field in 1995.  The large letters made it hard to miss.

Photos by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus

Although Coors Field is a gem of a ballpark, the real gem in the state is the Rocky Mountains.  So I took a short trip up to Juniper Pass, which is approximately 40 miles west of downtown Denver and 11,020 feet above sea level.  My driver could have gone up to Mount Evans, which was a few miles up the road at an altitude of over 12,000 feet, but the area was still closed due to winter conditions.  In mid-May, mind you.  But that's the Rocky Mountains for you.

At the slightly lower Juniper Pass, the mountain roads were clear of frozen precipitation, but there was still plenty of snow to see.  I probably should have worn my hood as the temperature was in the upper 30s there, whereas it was in the upper 50s at Denver's lower altitude.

The views from Juniper Pass were absolutely incredible.  The air is crisp and you can hear sounds from miles away (not that there are many sounds at 11,000 feet).  But because the air is thinner, you get winded very quickly.  I can only imagine how much of a hard time Bartolo Colon would have had running around the bases had Petco Park been located somewhere in Juniper Pass instead of San Diego.

My butt was frozen in this photo.  (Photos by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

We came.  We saw.  But the Rockies conquered.  That was pretty much the story on this latest stop of Joey's World Tour of ballparks.  But at least we enjoyed some good food and some breathtaking views.  And because of the altitude, some of it was literally breathtaking.  I mean, it was hard to breathe once we passed 10,000 feet!

Coors Field is definitely a ballpark I would visit again.  Hopefully, next time the Mets will remember to pack their bats when they depart for Denver.  They should also pack their scouting reports so that they don't think guys like Jon Gray, Eddie Butler and Tyler Chatwood are the second coming of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz.  (PSSST, here's a little secret.  They're also not as good as John Smiley, Zane Smith and Randy Tomlin, for those of you who are more experienced Mets fans.)

I'd like to look a little happier in photos the next time I go to Coors Field than I did when I took this final photo in front of the scoreboard after the Rockies completed their sweep of the Mets.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the road wherever my baseball tour takes me next.

There was no sunshine for me or the Mets on this cloudy day.  (Photo by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

For previous installments of Joey's World Tour, please click on the links below, where you will be entertained by Joey's wit, photos and love of ballpark cuisine:

World Tour Stop #1: Baltimore
World Tour Stop #2: Washington, DC
World Tour Stop #3: Pittsburgh
World Tour Stop #4: Texas
World Tour Stop #5: Los Angeles
World Tour Stop #6: San Diego
World Tour Stop #7: Toronto
World Tour Stop #8: Chicago
World Tour Stop #9: Milwaukee
World Tour Stop #10: Seattle
World Tour Stop #11: Cleveland
World Tour Stop #12: Brooklyn (Ebbets Field site) and Manhattan (Polo Grounds site)
World Tour Stop #13: Baltimore (again) and Pittsburgh (part deux)
World Tour Stop #14: Cincinnati