Saturday, August 20, 2016

Curtis Granderson Chases Unwanted History One RBI at a Time

On Friday, the Mets' leaky bullpen turned a 1-1 tie into an 8-1 blowout loss in a matter of minutes.  Gone was Seth Lugo's valiant effort , in which he allowed one run in six and two-thirds innings while he was in the game and two additional runs after he was taken out of the game, no thanks to Jerry Blevins' craptastic performance.

The sole run for the Mets came in the second inning, when Curtis Granderson bashed and splashed his 20th home run of the season into McCovey Cove.  Obviously, Grandy's tater came with no one on base, something Mets fans have become accustomed to, as it was the 17th consecutive solo homer for Granderson this season.  And for those who would say that Granderson has so many solo shots because he's been used mostly as a leadoff hitter this season, you should be reminded that the only time Granderson is guaranteed to bat with no one on base as a No. 1 hitter is in inning No. 1 and that last year, he was used mostly as a leadoff hitter and still managed to knock eight balls out of the park with men on base.  Oh, and last night's four-base hit came as the Mets' sixth-place hitter, as did his previous solo homer two nights before that.

For the season, Granderson has 20 home runs and just 34 RBI.  You read that correctly, kids.  Thirty-four runs batted in for a 20-homer hitter.  And it's because of the paltry RBI figure that Granderson is chasing unwanted history.

The forever-smiling Curtis Granderson finally has something to frown about.  (Photo by Paul J. Bereswill)

Curtis Granderson is on pace to hit 27 homers and drive in 45 runs this season.  Only nine players in big league history have hit 20 or more homers while producing no more than 45 RBI in the same season.  But none of the players hit more than 22 home runs, as Chris Duncan (22 HR, 43 RBI in 2006) and Mark Reynolds (22 HR, 45 RBI in 2014) are tied for the most homers in a 45-RBI-or-fewer campaign.  With Granderson on pace for 27 homers, he stands a good chance to have the fewest runs batted in of any player with that home run total.  In fact, he could have fewer RBI than any player who hit at least 23 HR.

Here is the list of the fewest RBI recorded by players who hit 23, 24, 25, 26 and 27 homers.

  • 23 HR, 48 RBI - Ruben Rivera (1999)
  • 24 HR, 51 RBI - Ken Phelps (1984)
  • 25 HR, 56 RBI - Fred Lynn (1988), Marcus Thames (2008), Luis Valbuena (2015)
  • 26 HR, 54 RBI - Ron Gant (2000), Joc Pederson (2015)
  • 27 HR, 56 RBI - Mark Bellhorn (2002)

Ruben Rivera is the only player in baseball history to hit 23 or more homers who failed to drive in 50 runs in that campaign.  Granderson, who has driven in 34 runs in the Mets' first 122 games, stands to join Rivera in this exclusive club while hitting more homers than Rivera and driving in fewer runs.  It should be noted that Rivera drove in his 34th run in 1999 on July 19 in his team's 92nd game of the season, while Granderson collected RBI No. 34 exactly one full month and 30 games later in his team's schedule.

With 20 homers and 34 RBI, Granderson has fewer then two runs batted in for every home run he has hit, or more precisely, 1.7 RBI/HR.  Only two other players with 20+ homers in a single season had RBI totals that failed to be at least twice the number of their home run output.  That gruesome twosome is:

  • Kevin Maas (1990) - 21 HR, 41 RBI
  • Chris Duncan (2006) - 22 HR, 43 RBI

Unlike Granderson, both Maas and Duncan needed just one additional RBI to have twice as many runs batted in as they had home runs.  They averaged 1.95 RBI/HR, compared to Granderson's 1.7 RBI/HR ratio, which means Granderson is on pace to shatter the mark for fewest RBI per home run among those players who hit 20 or more home runs.  But what if the bar was lowered from 20 HR to just reaching double digits in homers?  Surely, there should be many players who averaged fewer than 1.7 RBI per home run when they didn't hit too many homers to begin with, right?


In fact, here is the complete list of players who hit ten or more homers and failed to drive in 1.7 runs for every homer they hit:

  • Wayne Gross (1985) - 11 HR, 18 RBI (1.64 RBI/HR)
  • Russell Branyan (2008) - 12 HR, 20 RBI (1.67 RBI/HR)

That's it.  I'm sure Curtis Granderson is pleased to be in their company.

So let's look at one last thing before you start the process of buying Granderson a one-way plane ticket out of town.  Let's review all the names we've mentioned above.  I'm talking about Chris Duncan, Matt Reynolds, Ruben Rivera, Ken Phelps, Fred Lynn, Marcus Thames, Luis Valbuena, Ron Gant, Joc Pederson, Mark Bellhorn, Kevin Maas, Wayne Gross and Russell Branyan, for those of you whose attention span is smaller than the difference between Granderson's home run and RBI totals.

Those 13 players averaged just 343 at-bats in their RBI-starved seasons, with Pederson (480 AB) being the only one to surpass 450 at-bats.  Therefore, it could be reasonably argued that because most of them didn't come up to the plate as often as an everyday player, they had fewer RBI opportunities.  Granderson already has 424 at-bats this season.  Barring injury or benching, he's on pace to rack up 563 at-bats.  And yet he's still not driving in runs.

It makes you wonder if that paltry .123 batting average with runners in scoring position (10-for-81) and that almost inconceivable .050 mark in two-out/RISP situations (2-for-40) has something to do with Granderson's low RBI total with all those home runs.  (Spoiler alert:  It does.)

When the Mets signed Curtis Granderson as a free agent prior to the 2014 campaign, they expected him to be a run-producer.  Instead, he became the team's leadoff hitter.  In 2015, Granderson produced 70 RBI, with 64 of those runs driven in from the leadoff spot.  This year, he's not even halfway to his 2015 RBI total even though the season is more than three-quarters complete.  And now, he's not even in the leadoff spot where he could use the excuse that No. 1 hitters aren't expected to drive in runs.

It's not unusual for a big-time free agent signing to make history.  It is unusual, however, for one to chase the kind of unwanted history Curtis Granderson is approaching - history he's about to make one well-spaced RBI at a time.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Dog Days of Summer Seem to Only Affect the Mets

If you've been living in the New York metropolitan area the last few weeks, you know it's been a hot summer, especially recently when temperatures have been in the 90s with heat indices soaring into triple digits.  In between breaths of hot and sticky air, you've probably heard someone mention that we're in the dog days of summer.  But what exactly are those canine 24-hour periods?

The dictionary definition of dog days is as follows:

  • The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11.
  • A period marked by lethargy, inactivity or indolence.

Clearly, the second definition was created with the 2016 New York Mets in mind.

Just a few days after the astrological beginning of the dog days of summer, the Mets' record stood at 47-38 and they held a firm grip on the National League's top wild card spot.  Since then, the Mets have gone 10-20 and their players have developed those dreaded summer allergies - the ones that make them allergic to winning streaks longer than one game.

Since July 7, when the Mets were three games ahead of the Cardinals and Marlins, New York has the worst record in baseball.  Don't believe me?  Here, see for yourself.  Can't find the Mets?  Just look all the way down in the lower right hand corner - the spot usually reserved for last place teams.

The dog days have affected other competitive teams as well, as the Marlins and Cardinals have only been one game above .500 since July 7.  The Pittsburgh Pirates, who had the eighth-best record in the National League on July 7, are also just one game over the break-even point since that date.  But even that's been good enough to put them ahead of the Mets on the morning of August 13.  It should be noted that the Mets had the fourth-best record in the Senior Circuit five weeks ago, which means the Pirates only needed to be barely better than mediocre to leapfrog over four teams on their way to passing the defending National League champions in the wild card race.

The Mets have done nothing but fall apart since Sirius started to rise at the same time as the sun.  I mean that figuratively and literally, as Matt Harvey, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Reyes, Asdrubal Cabrera and probably some other players you never realized were on the team (Justin Ruggiano, anyone?) have all been felled by the injury bug.  Still, even with the plethora of boo-boos, no one could have expected that this team would ever be the worst out of 30 teams for a period of just over a month.

Summer doldrums have affected the Mets in the past as well.  Just six years ago, the Mets' record stood at 45-35 on the morning of July 3, the date in which the dog days of summer begin in the astrological sense.  The team had the wild card lead and was only two games behind the first-place Braves in the N.L. East and three games ahead of the eventual division champion Phillies.  Five weeks later, they were below .500, behind the Phillies, and on the outside of the playoff race looking in.

Do you remember the 2002 season, when general manager Steve Phillips brought in a bunch of former All-Stars in Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Alomar to help the team go for its sixth straight winning season and third playoff trip in four years?  That team was 53-49 in late July and within striking distance of the wild card-leading Dodgers.  Then ... KABOOM!  That's the sound a Flushing Free Fall makes when the team proceeds to go 8-25 in its next 33 games, which included a 12-game losing streak in mid-August and the loss of every home game in the entire month.  For all you kids out there, that's an 0-13 record in August.

And what about the 1992 Mets, also known as "The Worst Team Money Could Buy"?  That team was actually just four games out of first place on July 24 and appearing to be worth every penny invested in it.  But less than a month later, the team was 15 games off the pace in the division after losing 19 of 24 games.

The dog days of summer affect every major league team.  Players get tired over a long season and especially when the weather is hot and humid.  But over the years, those days have been particularly rough on the Mets.  This season has been no exception.

Last night's loss to the Padres was the Mets' 20th defeat in their last 30 games.  If you believe in astrological definitions, the dog days of summer ended two days ago.  Perhaps someone should tell the Mets that the Dog Star is no longer rising with the sun and hope that this information can help the team rise in the wild card standings.  The Mets could certainly use all the help they can get.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Joey's World Tour: Motor City Beartran

Metsies and tigers and bears, oh my!  (Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

What's shaking, everyone?  This is your friendly neighborhood Studious Metsimus roving reporter and culinary expert, Joey Beartran.  In this installment of my world baseball tour, I'm going to talk about Comerica Park and the city of Detroit.  Here's my tip to you.

Don't go to Detroit.  Like, ever.

Seriously, if you want to visit the city and the surrounding areas that gave us Motown, Axel Foley and the dude who starred in "Magnum P.I.", just play some Stevie Wonder records while you watch "Beverly Hills Cop".  There's a reason why Tom Selleck took himself and his Detroit Tigers cap to Hawaii.  It's because he didn't want to be in Detroit.  He was the smart one.  I wasn't.

You see, every year I like to visit an American League park since the Mets don't visit too many of them over the course of a season.  I had already been to eight of the 15 A.L. stadiums prior to this year and needed to cross Comerica Park off my list.  So I hopped on a plane and embarked on my journey.  The flight was short, just a few minutes over an hour.  Alas, I wish my stay in the Motor City had been as short.

After the 20+ mile cab ride from the airport to downtown Detroit (the airport is in a city called Romulus - it's not actually in Detroit), I was a little hungry, so I decided to feast on a coney.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a hot dog with chili, shredded cheese and onions.  Well, at least that's what it's supposed to be, as I had several of these delicacies last year in Cincinnati, the coney capital of the country.  In Detroit, the hot dog just had a glop of chili, a few pieces of onions, no cheese and a generous helping of mustard.  Just like Indiana Jones hates snakes, I hate mustard.  And that should have been a warning to me that Detroit was not going be my favorite world tour destination.

The Cincinnati coney (left) is a work of art.  The Detroit version?  It's a work of fart.  (EL/SM)

I attended two games at Comerica Park with my crew.  The first game featured a classic pitching matchup, as Noah Syndergaard faced Justin Verlander.  The second game was whatever the opposite of "classic pitching matchup" is, as Logan Verrett squared off against southpaw Matt Boyd.  Both games featured what's become a sad routine for the Mets, as they dropped a pair of one-run decisions to the Tigers.  The first game saw the Mets score a meaningless run in the ninth, while the second contest had a very meaningful run cut down at the plate in the final frame.

Second verse, same as the first.

At least I was able to walk around the park during the games to keep me from viewing the carnage.  And I saw some interesting features at Comerica Park that I hadn't seen at other ballparks.

Since the builders of the ballpark knew that no one really wanted to be in Detroit, they constructed a Ferris Wheel and a carousel inside the stadium.  The Ferris Wheel has a dozen baseball-shaped cars while the carousel has a streak of tigers to ride.  (See, you learned something today.  I'll bet you didn't know that a group of tigers was called a streak.)  I didn't get on either ride because I was too busy wondering why SNY roving reporter Steve Gelbs passed me by without saying hello.

O where, o where has Steve Gelbs gone?  O where, o where can he be?  (EL/SM)

But all was not lost, as my Studious Metsimus colleague sent Steve a tweet the following day and got an honest response (see below).

As a roving reporter myself, I should have known that Steve would be busy.  Plus, he had his mind on other things, like riding the tiger carousel while feasting on ice cream.  Looks like I'm not the only roving reporter/culinary expert around.

I forgive you, Steve.  Just keep doing what you do best, even if it doesn't involve a carousel or Ferris Wheel.

In case you were wondering, it was fairly easy for Steve to get ice cream near the carousel, as the ride is located in the center of an area called the Big Cat Court.

The food court with the Big name features everything from Greek fare to Mexican street tacos to something called elephant ears.  No, seriously.  They have elephant ears.  And apparently, they're edible.

Dogs and elephants?  I think I'll stick to gyros and tacos, or maybe some of Steve Gelbs' ice cream.  (EL/SM)

It's clear that Tigers fans really love their food.  Perhaps the only thing they love more is their tigers.  No, not "Tigers" with a capital "T", but lower-case tigers, as in the ones that adorn the outside of Comerica Park.

There are tiger statues, tiger tiles, tiger gargoyle thingies.  If there is an open space on the outside of the stadium, there is probably a tiger on it.  Here, see for yourself.

You don't look so big to me!  You're all roar and no bite!  (EL/SM)

Finally, Comerica Park has statues.  Lots and lots of statues.  There are also kiosk-like areas with displays devoted to various decades of Detroit Tigers baseball.

My photographer gravitated towards the 1980s and 1990s displays since that was the era of baseball he grew up with.  While he was doing that, I checked out the statues behind the center field wall, featuring players such as Ty Cobb, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline and Willie Horton.  There is also a statue dedicated to the late broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who called Tigers games for over four decades until his retirement following the 2002 campaign, or one year before Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy hung up his microphone.

All photos of inanimate objects by Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus

So let's recap what happened during my 48-hour jaunt to Detroit.  My cab ride from the airport to downtown Detroit took longer than my flight from New York to the D.  My coney was a faux coney.  Steve Gelbs didn't notice a fellow roving reporter/culinary expert because he was having too much fun on the job.  I saw tigers (and elephant ears) in my sleep as well as on the stadium.  And of course, the Mets lost both games I attended by the smallest of margins.

Some things I didn't already tell you that added to my misery included my photographer getting attacked by his bed in our hotel room (there was a jagged edge that wasn't visible that he backed into, causing his leg to bleed as if it were Matt Harvey's nose).  For a city known as the Motor City, there was road construction and detours everywhere, pretty much preventing people from motoring around.  And most importantly, there were no convenience stores anywhere, which presented quite an inconvenience for post-game snack seekers such as myself.

Thomas Magnum was right when he left Detroit to become a private investigator in Hawaii.  And I would have been right had I gone to another American League park instead of one that required me to stay in Detroit.  But at least Comerica Park is off my list of ballparks that I needed to visit as part of my world tour.  And I'm so glad I never have to go there again.

Until next time, when I visit a stadium in a city that won't be Detroit, this is Joey Beartran wishing you a pleasant evening and wishing the Mets can finally produce a winning streak longer than one game.  This month-long slump they're in is almost as bad as going to the Motor City.  Almost.

See you soon!

My sister, Iggy, and I are glad we don't have to go back to Detroit, even if the tiger behind us has other ideas.  (EL/SM)

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 (NL)
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
World Tour Stop #15: Colorado
World Tour Stop #16: Cooperstown (Baseball Hall of Fame)


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Joey's World Tour: Won't You Take Me To ... Cooperstown?

My sister, Bee, joined me as Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. entered the Hall of Fame.  (Ed Leyro/Studious Metsimus)

Hi, everyone!  This is your fav'rit roving reporter, Joey Beartran.  And this edition of my baseball world tour took me to a place where there is no major league baseball team, but there's certainly no shortage of baseball.

With Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. being elected into the Hall of Fame this year, it seemed like a perfect time for me (a Mets fan) and my sister, Bee (a Mariners fan), to venture 200 miles northwest of Citi Field to Cooperstown.  The Hall is located on Main Street, in an area full of baseball themed stores.  And during Hall of Fame weekend, those stores hosted many former athletes, including several Mets players of days gone by.

My photographer took several photos of these former players, but he failed to inform me that two members of the 1969 World Champion Mets found it amusing that among the many websites covering Hall of Fame weekend, one of them sent a bear instead of a human.  Needless to say, they smiled a little too much for the camera.

It's almost as if Art Shamsky and Ed Kranepool had never seen a roving reporter that's also a bear.  (EL/SM)

In addition to members of the Mets' first championship squad, there were also players from their second title team, such as Mookie Wilson, Howard Johnson and Lenny Dykstra.  I heard Jesse Orosco was also signing autographs and posing for photos with fans, but I was eating a hot dog at the time and didn't want mustard to accidentally appear on the side of my mouth in the photo.  If Shamsky and Kranepool were laughing when my face was mustard-free, how would Messy Jesse have reacted at the sight of Messy Joey?

At least Mookie, Lenny and HoJo didn't make fun of me.  (EL/SM)

Soon after meeting the Mets, meeting the Mets (again), stepping right up and greeting the Mets (for a small fee), the Hall of Fame parade began.

Thousands of people lined up on Main Street to see their favorite former players go by in the back of a Ford pickup truck.  Because who doesn't want to see Tom Glavine being taken hostage hanging out in the back of a moving pickup truck?  Missing among the living Hall of Famers were three former Mets (Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Roberto Alomar), but hey, at least we got Glavine to make up for them.

No comment.  (EL/SM)

Other Hall of Famers who took part in the parade included Jim Bunning, Johnny Bench, Reggie Jackson, Rollie Fingers, Eddie Murray, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson, to name a few.  They were all smiles throughout the route.  (Even Eddie Murray!)  But of course, my photographer captured players like Mike Schmidt, George Brett and Dennis Eckersley at their surliest.  Because his sense of timing is awful.

Smile!  You're on Candid Studious Metsimus Camera!  (EL/SM)

The parade ended at the Hall of Fame building, which is the crown jewel of Cooperstown.  We entered the Hall three and a half hours before closing time.  By the time we got around to the gift shop, the employees were getting ready to kick us out.  (Not literally.  They were actually very polite.)  There was so much to see and do in the Hall, we could have easily spent more than three and a half hours there.

Exhibits included Women In Baseball, The African-American Baseball Experience and Viva Baseball (Latin-American baseball).  There were also wings devoted to baseball by the decades and baseball records, as well as a locker room featuring memorabilia from every team.  The area devoted to the 1970s was particularly interesting to me, even though that era was way before my time.  Two objects that stood out for me were the Andy Warhol painting of Tom Seaver (circa 1977 - not the happiest time to be Tom Seaver or a Mets fan) and the full costume of the San Diego Chicken, who entertained Padres fans at a time when the team wore brown and mustard colored uniforms and still didn't have a no-hitter.  (Well, at least they no longer wear those uniforms.)

The Chicken was lucky he didn't end up inside a Campbell's Soup can that was eventually painted by Warhol.  (EL/SM)

Once I left the '70s behind, I wish I hadn't.  You see, there was also a wing in the Hall of Fame devoted to the 2015 World Series, which I was not too keen on seeing.  (Yes, I took a photo there, but I'm not very happy about it.  If you absolutely must see it, just click here.  If the link doesn't take you to the photo, consider it a good thing.)

But enough about last year.  You want to see the Hall of Fame plaques, right?  Of course you do.  Well, you can always Google those.  There's an abundance of those photos on the interwebs.  At the time I went to see the plaques, the spots were still open for Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr.  But at least both players were well-represented in the gift shop.

By the time you read this, the plaques will be there.  Please buy a jersey while you wait.  (EL/SM)

Another place they were well-represented was in their special wings.  Both Piazza and Griffey had their own section in the Hall featuring memorabilia and photos taken at various points of their distinguished careers.

Bee and I enjoyed this section very much, although I was disappointed that Piazza's area had too much focus on the other teams he played for compared to Griffey.  Griffey was a member of the Cincinnati Reds longer than Piazza was a Met, but Mariners fans like Bee will be happy to know that his wing almost exclusively features him as a Seattle Mariner.   With Piazza, it was as if the Mets were just a stop on his baseball journey.  Take a look at the photos to see what I mean.

At least Bee got what our petty cash tin paid for in the Griffey wing.  (EL/SM)

Finally, on Sunday we attended the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Clark Sports Center, which is about a one mile trudge from the Hall of Fame building.  We had left our blankets and lawn chairs there overnight just to reserve a spot.  By the time we got there Sunday morning, there were nearly 50,000 other people who had claimed spots around us.  That's more people than the capacity at Citi Field, even when they're selling standing room only tickets!

We were sitting too far away for my photographer to get any clear shots of the dozens of Hall of Famers sitting on the stage and the two new ones standing at the podium, but all you need to know about the ceremony can be summed up in this one photo taken off the big screen after both Piazza and Griffey had given their spectacular tear-filled speeches.

During the ceremony, Mets fans gave Piazza lots of TLC, while Griffey wore his hat 2 da back.  (EL/SM)

So that's all for this special edition of Joey's World Tour.  The next installment will come sooner than you expect, as we are planning on following the Mets to Detroit's Comerica Park next weekend.  I wonder what food options they have there...

Oh, before I forget, I have one more anecdote to share with you.  You see, a week after Mike Piazza entered the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Mets had a special ceremony of their own at Citi Field to retire Piazza's No. 31.  And about that plaque I mentioned before that wasn't at Cooperstown when I was there - well, it made the trip to Citi Field, and I was fortunate enough to get a photo with it before it made its return trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.  (You don't have to Google it like I said before.  I'll be kind enough to share it with you here.)  My photographer also took lovely photos (for a change) of Piazza's former Mets teammates - Cliff Floyd, Edgardo Alfonzo and Al Leiter - who attended the Citi Field ceremony, as well as the new retired No. 31 that now sits atop the ballpark.

The Piazza celebration is complete now that the No. 31 has been retired at Citi Field.  (EL/SM)

Mike Piazza was very special to me.  You see, on the day I was "born" at Shea Stadium in 2004, Piazza was being celebrated in an on-field celebration (which seems to be a common theme in this blog post).  A dozen years ago, the Mets were celebrating the fact that he had just become the game's top home run hitting catcher.  They invited Carlton Fisk and Johnny Bench to attend the ceremony, and Ivan Rodriguez was also there in uniform as a member of the Detroit Tigers, the Mets' opponent that day.  That was my first baseball experience - seeing a celebration of Mike Piazza.  So it's fitting that I got to see him receive the ultimate honors of being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and having his number retired by the Mets.

So on that note, now that I'm done with Cooperstown and the two-weekend celebration of Mike Piazza, I think I'm going to rest up to make sure I'm fully awake for next weekend's getaway to Michigan to see the Mets play the Tigers, which is a rematch of that first Mets game I saw in person back in 2004.  Got any suggestions where I can hibernate for the week?  Maybe a large place where a bear can feel like home?

This place on the way back from Cooperstown seems like a good place for a bear to crash.  (EL/SM)

Take care, Mets fans.  I hope to talk to you again once I've completed the next leg of my baseball world tour!

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 (NL)
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
World Tour Stop #15: Colorado


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Jonathan Lucroy Isn't Yoenis Céspedes, Or Is He?

Jonathan Lucroy may not be Yoenis Cespedes, but he sure looks a lot like Daniel Murphy.  (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

No one is going to confuse Jonathan Lucroy with Yoenis Céspedes.  Céspedes is a slugger who has never hit fewer than 22 homers in any of his five seasons in the majors, averaging 31 homers and 103 RBI for every 162 games played, while Lucroy's career high in home runs is 18.  Céspedes is also a left fielder, while Lucroy squats behind the plate.

But despite the obvious differences, Lucroy has the potential to be an impact player just like Céspedes was last year for the Mets.  Allow me to explain.

The Mets have two problems.  When they're on offense, especially with runners in scoring position, they turn into a Mario Mendoza cover band.  And believe me, they've covered him very well, batting .202 (148-for-732) with runners in scoring position.

The team's other problem occurs when they're on defense.  They allow too many [expletive deleted] stolen bases!  New York has allowed 84 steals in 111 attempts, allowing opposing base runners to steal at a 76% success rate.  The average major league team has allowed just 52 stolen bases and a 71% success rate, so yeah, I'd call this a problem for the Mets.

So how do the Mets fix these two problems with just one player?  All they have to do is make a trade for Jonathan Lucroy.

For the season, Lucroy is batting .300 with 17 doubles, 13 homers and 50 RBI.  He also has a .360 on-base percentage and a .484 slugging percentage to give him an .844 OPS.  Now consider this.  Lucroy's .300 batting average and .844 OPS are both higher than the marks Céspedes was producing at the time the Mets acquired him last year.  (La Potencia was batting .293 and had an .829 OPS when he was traded to New York.)

It's true that Céspedes had driven in more runs at the time of the swap, as Yoenis had amassed 61 RBI before coming to the Mets, or 11 more than Lucroy has now.  But remember that Lucroy is a catcher and therefore did not have all the plate appearances that an outfielder like Céspedes would have.  Lucroy's 50 RBI in 324 at-bats this year (an RBI every 6.5 AB) is comparable to the 61 RBI produced by Céspedes last year in 403 at-bats prior to becoming a Met (an RBI every 6.6 AB).

Lucroy also excels at driving in runners in scoring position when there are two outs, batting .289 in those situations.  That would be a marked improvement over the paltry .164 batting average the Mets currently have under those circumstances, which includes the .308 mark put up by Céspedes.  (Take out Céspedes and the team would have a .152 batting average with two outs and runners in scoring position.  Yeah, it's really that bad.)  Imagine a lineup with two players hitting back-to-back who can produce when the team is down to its last out in an inning!  That's what Lucroy would bring to the Mets.

Now, as great as Céspedes was with the bat both last year and in 2016, there's nothing he can do about the plethora of stolen bases being registered against the Mets.  If you recall, earlier this week Céspedes hit a home run against the Cardinals that gave the Mets a late-inning lead.  However, a two-run rally by the Cardinals in the ninth inning, which included a stolen base by Jeremy Hazelbaker to set up the tie-breaking hit by Kolten Wong, caused a potential wonderful win by the Mets to turn into a devastating defeat.

Céspedes couldn't do it all in that game against St. Louis.  That's where Jonathan Lucroy comes in.

Do you know which catcher is leading the league in most base runners caught stealing?  That would be one Jonathan Charles Lucroy.  Lucroy has gunned down 32 would-be base stealers, or five more than Travis d'Arnaud, Rene Rivera and Kevin Plawecki have been able to throw out ... combined!  In addition, Lucroy has thrown out 40% of the runners trying to steal a base against him.  The National League average is just 28%.

So let's review.

Have bat, will travel - hopefully to New York.  (Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Jonathan Lucroy has produced just as much with the bat this year with the Brewers as Céspedes did last year with the Tigers prior to Yoenis being traded to the Mets.  Lucroy is just as likely to drive in a run as Céspedes is.  It just doesn't show up in the cumulative numbers because Lucroy plays fewer games due to the fact that he is a catcher.

Lucroy is batting 125 points higher than the Mets are in two out/RISP situations, meaning that he is much more likely to collect the two-out hit needed to drive in a runner from second or third base than your typical Met is.  This would put an end to those frustrating innings when the Mets put multiple men on base but don't bring them home.

And finally, Lucroy would cause the running at will against Mets pitchers to slow down a bit once opposing base runners realize that he's actually quite adept at throwing them out.  That would thwart potential rallies and keep runs off the board.

When Rene Rivera is leading Mets catchers in home runs and RBI with four and 17, respectively, and there is the potential to acquire another catcher with a 13 and 50 in those categories, you know the Mets have to pull the trigger on this deal.

Jonathan Lucroy isn't the sexy name that Yoenis Céspedes was last year and he probably can't hit balls into the third deck at Citi Field like the Mets' outfielder has, but Lucroy can help the Mets in so many ways that even Céspedes can't.  And he could be the difference between the Mets playing meaningful games in October again or the Mets watching other teams doing the same.

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.