Friday, June 25, 2010
After defeating the Cleveland Indians yesterday in Philadelphia, the Phillies started packing for their ten-game road trip that begins tonight against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Phillies' road trip will begin tonight...IN PHILLY!
This weekend's series between the Phillies and Blue Jays was supposed to be played in Toronto. However, security concerns arose because of the G20 summit being held adjacent to the Rogers Centre in Toronto, necessitating the shift in the schedule.
In recent years, hurricanes have forced teams like the Astros and Marlins to move their home games to other venues. Two years ago, an Astros-Cubs series was moved to Miller Park in Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike. Similarly, a Marlins-Expos series was moved to Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field in 2004 due to Hurricane Ivan.
So my question is this. Why wasn't this series moved to a neutral site, instead of moving Toronto's home games to the home ballpark of the team they're playing? Are the Blue Jays flying in their five fans to attend the games in Philly? No, they're not. The games will all be overwhelmingly attended by Phillies' Phans.
Despite the fact that the Blue Jays will be the home team and will play with American League rules (meaning the DH will be used), how is this fair to them? More importantly to Studious Metsimus fans, how is this fair to the Mets (and the other teams in the NL East)?
The Phillies will now be playing a total of 84 games this season in their home ballpark, while taking their show on the road for only 78 games.
Now imagine the uproar if the Phillies make the playoffs by one game. Even a caveman like the one pictured to the right can see that the Phillies will have an unfair advantage with those extra games in front of their home fans.
The Mets are one of the best home teams in baseball, currently holding a 26-11 record at Citi Field. However, they will only have 81 games at home to help improve their standings in the NL East.
Since the Mets aren't getting a break with the schedule maker, let's hope those five Blue Jays fans make enough noise at Citizens Bank Park to motivate their team to victory over the "road team".
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
What was once a pessimistic fan base has now become increasingly optimistic about the prospect of the Mets playing meaningful games in September and beyond.
At the 70-game mark, the Mets find themselves in second place, a game and a half behind the first-place Braves (who also have the best record in the National League). The Mets also lead the Giants by half a game in the Wild Card race.
The Mets have had better won-loss records after 70 games (they were 49-21 at the 70-game mark in 1986), but June has been another story. As a matter of fact, the Mets have had more than their share of June swoons, even in their best seasons. Take a look at their year-by-year records in June:
1981: 2-7 (strike season)
2010: 14-4 (so far)
Over their first 48 seasons, the Mets have won more than 16 games in June only five times. In three of those five seasons, the Mets advanced to the postseason (1969, 1986, 1999), winning the World Series in two of those campaigns (1969, 1986).
Entering tonight's game, the Mets have eight games left in June. If they win only three of those games, they will become only the sixth Mets team to register more than 16 wins in the month of June. Going .500 (4-4) over their remaining eight games will give them their fourth month of June with at least 18 wins. Six wins would give them only their second 20-win June. Of course, if the Mets win all of their remaining games this month, they will have the best June in franchise history.
It's interesting to note that in both of their championship seasons, the Mets went 19-9 in June. If the 2010 Mets win five of their remaining eight games this month, they will finish with a 19-9 record in June.
History has shown that the Mets have not performed well in the month of June. However, the 2010 Mets have been rewriting the team's history books this month. If the Mets can finish June as strongly as they started it, this season might add a few more chapters to the Mets history book.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
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.
As we have 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:
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
On Father's Day 2004 (June 20), Cincinnati Reds outfielder 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.
On Father's Day 1997 (June 15), Major League Baseball instituted its first Home Run Challenge to benefit prostate cancer research. Now in its 13th season, the Home Run Challenge has raised over $30 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.
In one of the 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 centerfield 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.
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 pitch 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.
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 has always been 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 has 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!"
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 has pitched a no-hitter. They have had numerous no-hitters pitched against them, including the aforementioned Bunning in 1964. The Mets are not alone in this regard, as they are one of three teams who have never had the thrill of having one of its own pitch a no-hitter (Colorado was erased from the list this season when Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history on April 17).
One of the other two teams to have never thrown a no-hitter is a recent expansion team (Tampa Bay Rays). However, the other team besides the Mets without a no-hitter has also been around since the 1960s. The San Diego Padres have gone 41 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!)
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!
Special postscript: As Studious Metsimus readers, you probably are all aware of Joey Beartran, the author of Joey's Soapbox. Today is a special day for your fav'rit teddy bear blogger, as it was on June 20, 2004 that Joey was "born" at Shea Stadium.
Yes, SMFs. Today is Joey's sixth birthday. That day was also Father's Day (technically making me a "father" as well), so in the words of Ralph Kiner, I'd like to wish Joey a Happy Birthday on Father's Day!
Friday, June 18, 2010
According to today's New York Post, legendary comedian and lifelong Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld will join Keith Hernandez and Gary Cohen in the broadcast booth for at least three innings (and maybe more).
SNY's vice president of production, Curt Gowdy said the following regarding Seinfeld's appearance on the telecast:
"Jerry is scheduled for the top of the third inning, for at least three innings, and more if he wants to do more . . . There's no set script."
In addition, SNY also plans to air clips from the classic Seinfeld episode, "The Boyfriend", in which Keith Hernandez played himself in a prominent role. Keith and Jerry will also be discussing their experiences working together on the episode.
As a Seinfeld fan, I was ecstatic to hear about the "reunion" of Jerry Seinfeld and Keith Hernandez and wondered what it would be like to have other Seinfeld cast members appearing on Mets telecasts. Then I thought of all the potential disasters that could cause (especially with the hipster doofus himself, Kramer) and instead came up with a Top Ten list of why Jerry Seinfeld should be the only cast member to appear in the broadcast booth. Enjoy!
TOP TEN REASONS WHY NO OTHER SEINFELD CAST MEMBER SHOULD EVER DO PLAY-BY-PLAY FOR THE METS
10. When the camera pans into the booth, there is a chance it could catch Elaine dancing.
9. Newman would run off with Keith Hernandez's Tootsie Pops.
8. Upon entering the booth, Kramer would trip and take down the entire set.
7. George would mistakenly refer to the Mets as the Moops.
6. Fear that a bad call by an umpire would elicit a "No Soup For You" comment from the booth.
5. Kramer and Newman would spend the telecast plotting their revenge against Roger McDowell for his magic loogie. (Well, Newman would...)
4. Frank Costanza would repeatedly interrupt Gary Cohen to extol the virtues of Festivus.
3. Elaine would spend too much air time trying to determine if David Wright is spongeworthy.
2. No backup plan for when Newman spends three innings standing in line at Shake Shack instead of doing play-by-play.
...and the number one reason why no other Seinfeld cast member should ever do play-by-play for the Mets is:
1. Too much discussion on whether Keith Hernandez was ever master of his domain.
Be sure to tune in on Wednesday night to see the Mets play the Detroit Tigers at Citi Field. Of course, you were probably going to tune in anyway to see our beloved Mets as they continue to make a push towards the top of the National League East standings. But now you have another reason to watch.
Jerry Seinfeld and Keith Hernandez made a great team back in the '90s on a classic episode of Seinfeld. Now they'll be together again when they share the spotlight with Gary Cohen during Wednesday night's telecast. It should be a true SNY Mets classic...not that there's anything wrong with that.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
In the land of crab cakes, crab pretzels and all things crabby, the Mets eschewed the broom for a mallet as they won all three games from the O-no-rioles.
The sweep represented the first consecutive road victories for the Mets since they won the last two games of their series against the Houston Astros last July 25 and 26. It was also their first road sweep since taking three games from the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park (LESS FILLING! TASTES GREAT!) in early September 2008.
Let's give you a photo recap of some of the more memorable moments of the Studious Metsimus/My Summer Family World Tour as it made its way into Charm City.
We reached Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the early afternoon and felt like we were at home. Some of this had to do with the fact that the exterior of the ballpark (colors, bricks) reminded us of Citi Field, but most of it was because of the abundance of Mets fans who made their way into Baltimore for the series. At one point, we even overheard some traffic cops at an intersection saying "for every Orioles fan I see, there seem to be ten Mets fans." They weren't kidding. Mets fans were EVERYWHERE!
Numerous Mets players were on the field, either stretching or taking batting practice. Our cameras were out in full force capturing the pre-game action, as you will see below (clockwise from top left: Pedro Feliciano stretching in the outfield; the players running off the field; hitting coach Howard Johnson walking into the dugout; Johan Santana saluting the fans).
After taking two close games on Friday and Saturday, winning by the final scores of 5-1 and 3-1, respectively, the Mets' bats came alive in the series finale on Sunday, pounding out 18 hits in their 11-4 thrashing of the Orioles.
The offensive explosion by the Mets was good enough to elicit these smiles from the headliners of the Studious Metsimus/My Summer Family World Tour (from left to right, Joey's Colleague, Joey and The Coop).
Of course, no post on the ongoing tour would be complete without a special edition of Joey's Soapbox. Here to share his Camden Yards experience with you is my colleague, Joey Beartran.
JOEY'S SOAPBOX JOEY'S SOAPBOX JOEY'S SOAPBOX JOEY'S SOAPBOX
Thank you for the kind introduction, o esteemed Studious Metsimus colleague. Of course, by now most of our readers looking for my segment have probably left to pursue other reading interests. Or maybe they're watching the Mets game. For those SMFs who are still here, welcome to the latest installment of Joey's Soapbox.
As you can see from the photo above, I was invited to join the World Tour as it invaded Baltimore. Our tour bus dropped us off in the sweltering downtown Baltimore area, making me regret the fact that I was still wearing my long-sleeved Mets hoodie.
No matter. Joey Beartran was in town and I wasn't leaving without a victory or three. Next stop, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which was just an Ike Davis blast away from Baltimore's Inner Harbor. (But first, we had to make a pit stop for food. Even bear bloggers have to eat sometime.)
I was amazed to see how friendly all the people were in the town known as Charm City. Even restaurants welcomed us on their blackboards (see photo, right). They must have known that we were going to review them in a blog so they went all out to impress us.
However, for all the effort they put into welcoming our entourage with their Mid-Atlantic hospitality, they forgot the most important thing. Two words. GENEROUS PORTIONS. I mean, look at the photo below.
That picture was taken before I had taken a bite. What were they trying to do? Give me one french fry for every win the Orioles had this year? (That would be 17 fries. Speaking of 17, RETIRE IT!) Needless to say, I will slightly disappointed with this aspect of the Tour De Baltimore.
After the snack that was supposed to be my dinner, we made it to the ballpark, where I made sure that my presence was felt.
Since my dinner/snack hadn't filled me up, at first glance I thought the sign above said "Home of The Oreos". Again, I was disappointed.
Not all was lost. While walking around the concourse level near Eutaw St. (that's the street where the warehouse behind the right field area is located), I ran into the Mets' SNY/WPIX roving reporter, Kevin Burkhardt (see photo, below left). I also found out what he does when he's not on camera (see photo, below right).
Kevin was very gracious by posing with me twice. Mad props go out to KB for helping to make my Baltimore experience more pleasurable. (Note to our readers: I apologize to those who can't see what the front of the cow costume says because I was blocking it in the shot. It actually says "EAT MOR CHIKIN", which is the intentionally misspelled slogan for Chick-fil-A. I wouldn't have blocked it had it said "EAT MORE CHICKEN NACHOS".)
Next, it was time to get to the field level. I must say, the ushers/security at Camden Yards were much more accommodating than the ones at Citi Field. They let me climb the foul pole and sit on top of the Mets dugout while the team was taking batting practice. Not once did they ask me to move (see photos below). Can you imagine that happening at Citi Field?
Oriole Park at Camden Yards may not have the great food selection that Citi Field has. The same can be said for the restaurants surrounding the ballpark. However, one thing is for sure. If you want to travel anywhere in the country to feast on bad pitching, then Baltimore is the place to be.
The Mets outscored the Orioles in the three-game series by thirteen runs (19-6) and never trailed in any of the three games. The team did so well on the field that they didn't even notice when I tried to get on it.
Hats off to the Orioles and their fans (all three of them) for providing me with a great weekend getaway. The Mets also helped in my weekend experience by proving that they can indeed win on the road, making future stops on the Studious Metsimus/My Summer Family World Tour far more than just a dining experience for me. Now, in addition to sampling the local fare at every stop the Tour makes, we might be sampling a victory or three.
On behalf of my Studious Metsimus colleague and the lovely My Summer Family hostess, I'd like to thank you for being a part of our World Tour. Which city will we invade next? For that, you'll have to keep reading Studious Metsimus. Until then, this is Joey Beartran, reminding you to EAT MOR CHIKIN NACHOS. (Just don't eat mine!)
When Nelson Doubleday bought the team in 1980, one of his first courses of action was to hire a general manager who could construct a team that would make the Mets relevant in the National League again. Enter Frank Cashen.
Through inspired draft picks (Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden) and shrewd trades (Lee Mazzilli for Ron Darling comes to mind), Cashen was removing the older players in lieu of younger talent in the hopes that they could harness their talents together and form the nucleus of a contending team. Some of these players had already been promoted to the Mets by 1983. However, for all the young talent the Mets were bringing up from Tidewater, they lacked leadership. Cashen knew the team needed a veteran presence for the players to look up to. They needed a gamer whose passion for perfection would spread throughout the clubhouse. The day was June 15, 1983. The player was Keith Hernandez.
Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog had made it clear that he was not pleased with Keith's attitude. He thought Hernandez was more interested in smoking cigarettes and doing crossword puzzles than focusing all his attention on the game. At the time, Hernandez was also being mentioned as one of the players involved in a cocaine scandal, which also convinced Herzog that a change was needed. Whitey had coveted Neil Allen for some time now, and when the Mets offered Rick Ownbey and Neil Allen in a packaged deal for Keith Hernandez, the deal was consummated.
Hernandez was not shy to voice his displeasure at being traded to the "Stems", as Tom Seaver called the team. But for all the negativity Whitey Herzog claimed Hernandez brought to the Cardinals, his arrival in New York infused the team with a desire to win and play well. His Gold Glove defense made the rest of the infield better, preventing many potential throwing errors and instilling confidence in the young pitching staff. No one was better at positioning himself at first base and his coverage on bunt plays was legendary.
Similar to when the Pedro Martinez signing before the 2005 season gave a struggling Mets franchise instant credibility and enticed other free agents (Carlos Beltran) to sign with the team, the trade of Keith Hernandez to the Mets on June 15, 1983 awakened the team from their six-year lull that had them in a state of hibernation since the Midnight Massacre trade of Tom Seaver. When Frank Cashen was hired as Mets GM, the Mets trotted out a new slogan to bring the fans back to Shea Stadium. They were told to come see the Mets play because "The Magic Is Back". It may have taken a few years, but 27 years ago today, the Magic arrived at Shea Stadium in the form of our beloved soon-to-be captain, Keith Hernandez.
On a related note, June 15, 1983 is special to me for another reason, for it was on that date that I attended my first Mets game at Shea Stadium. I went to that game with the rest of my Little League team. I remember how happy the sparse crowd was when the news was flashed on Diamondvision that the Mets had acquired Keith Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals. I also remember how confused I was that the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the "big TV screen in left field" rather than the events taking place on the field.
Craig Swan started that game and was hit hard by the Cubs. By the time I got back from my second bathroom break (my Little League teammates were not amused that I kept stepping on their feet every time I tried to squeeze by them in our upper deck seats), Swan was out of the game and the Mets were down 4-0. The bullpen pitched very well after Swan's early exodus and the Mets rallied to tie the game, necessitating extra innings and causing some of the parents and chaperones to wonder if they should take the kids home. The Mets lost that game to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings by the score of 7-4. If I remember correctly, Bill Buckner drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th. Who knew that he would play such an important role in Mets history just a few years later when the little roller went behind the bag?
It didn't matter that the Mets had lost that game. It was one of 94 games they lost that season anyway. That day was important to me for more than just a game. That day began my love affair with Shea Stadium and my subsequent appreciation of Keith Hernandez. I should have known the Mets had acquired someone special when I listened to the sweet voice of Bob Murphy after the game during the radio post-game show when he said "the Mets lost the game tonight, but they have gained a superstar." Twenty-seven years ago today, the magic entered my life. It has never left.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Let me set the story up for you so that you're not as confused as umpiring legend Frank Drebin was when he took a course in ejection etiquette.
On Friday night, Chris "The Animal" Carter hit his first major league home run against the Baltimore Orioles. He followed that up with his second major league home run on Sunday. Both home runs were three-run homers that helped the Mets extend the small leads they had at the time.
Usually, a team tries to recover any player's first major league hit and/or home run, as the Mets did yesterday when rightfielder Jesus Feliciano collected his first major league hit. However, although Chris Carter does have the ball he hit for his second major league homer, he still does not have the memento from Friday night's home run.
It's not as if the team didn't try to retrieve the ball for him. It's that the ball ended up in the hands of a Baltimoron, that rare creature who mutated from an otherwise polite group of Baltimoreans. How did this particular beast get the name "Baltimoron"? The answer is quite simple.
The Mets offered the fan who caught Carter's first home run autographed David Wright, Jose Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez baseballs, as well as a bat autographed by The Animal himself. Of course, being a Baltimoron, the fan refused to give up the treasured ball because he was holding out for signed items from Orioles' players.
That's right. It wasn't enough to get three autographed baseballs from established All-Stars along with an autographed bat from the player responsible for hitting the ball causing this commotion. No, you need signed items from guys who play for THE WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL!
Let's re-enact this scene for you, in case you missed anything.
Mets: Thanks for catching Chris Carter's first major league home run. He'd love to have that ball as a keepsake to commemorate his first big league blast. How about we make a trade. We'll give you autographed baseballs of three of our biggest stars and an autographed bat given to you by the man who hit the ball. What do you say?
Baltimoron: No, that's not good enough. Throw in some autographs from players representing the worst team in baseball and you got a deal.
Mets: But these players aren't on our team. They're not in our locker room. They're not as accessible as guys who are literally standing ten feet away from me who are willing to do this for you.
Baltimoron: Yeah, that's nice and all, but I'd really like Cesar Izturis' autograph.
Mets: You do know that once we give you these autographed baseballs of our three All-Stars, if you don't want them, you could sell them for hundreds of dollars and probably buy every Cesar Izturis baseball card ever made?
Baltimoron: Okay, you took too long. Now I want a Julio Lugo autographed glove as well. I also want our mascot, The Bird, to show up at my son's next birthday party. Have him bring Mark Hendrickson in a clown costume when he comes. And if you don't hurry up, I'll want Juan Samuel to sign this photo of himself so I can keep it next to the lock of his Jheri-curled hair that I stole from his barber back in 1988.
Mets: (Door slam)
Baltimoron: Hello? Hello? What if you just added a Lenn Sakata baseball card to the mix instead? He wouldn't even have to autograph it. You can even keep the stick of bubble gum...
So there you have it, my friends. Chris "The Animal" Carter has been denied the opportunity to have the ball he hit for his first major league home run. And all this is because of a Baltimoron who wanted too much for it.
It's okay, Baltimoron. You can have the ball. We'll just take the three victories from your putrid team and while we're at it, we'll hold on to that Lenn Sakata baseball card as well. At least you can take comfort in the fact that you still have Juan Samuel's hair from 1988.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Last night, Chris Denorfia lined a leadoff double in the third inning against Jonathon Niese. It turned out to be the Padres' only hit (and only baserunner) of the game.
Denorfia now has full membership in the Mets' No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club, which is supposedly somewhere near the Caesar's Club and the Acela Club. In joining players like Jimmy Qualls, Chin-Hui Tsao, Kit Pellow and Paul Hoover, Denorfia is entitled to full Club privileges. These privileges include being booed mercilessly by Mets fans who have great long-term memories and the right to never be known for anything else other than being the one man who prevented the Mets from finally achieving that ever-elusive first no-hitter in franchise history!
Let's talk more about the latter privilege discussed above and the other Club members we mentioned.
Jimmy Qualls was given Club membership when he broke up Tom Seaver's perfect game on July 9, 1969. After denying Seaver his perfecto, Qualls went on to rack up only 91 more at-bats in his short career. The ninth-inning hit against Seaver was the 12th of the 31 hits collected by Qualls over his short career that saw him start only 20 games in the major leagues. However, one of those 20 games was on July 9, 1969.
Chin-Hui Tsao had a short-lived career as a pitcher for the Rockies and the Dodgers. In his fifth major-league start on August 18, 2003, Tsao opposed Steve Trachsel for the Mets. After Trachsel retired the first 17 batters to face him, Tsao hit a double to break up the no-hitter and perfect game. The two-bagger was the first hit and only double of Tsao's career, a career that saw him start only three more games, appear in 42 others as a reliever and spawn only one more base hit, which he collected five days after joining the No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club.
Kit Donovan Pellow (yes, his birth certificate really does list "Kit" as his first name) played briefly for the Kansas City Royals before signing with the Colorado Rockies in 2003. His moment in the sun came in his final year in the majors, when he doubled to break up Tom Glavine's no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning on May 23, 2004. The double was one of only 52 hits picked up by Pellow in his career. It was also the last double of his career. After joining the Club, Pellow only started seven more games in the big leagues and picked up eight additional base hits, none of which put him on another team's No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club.
Paul Hoover wasn't even supposed to be in the game on September 29, 2007. However, Marlins' starting catcher Miguel Olivo had been ejected from the game in the fifth inning for charging at Jose Reyes, who was standing on third base, igniting a bench-clearing incident. Three innings later, Hoover hit a 30-foot roller in front of home plate that didn't roll foul. The squibber ended John Maine's no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning. It was one of only three hits picked up by Hoover in 2007. Although Hoover made his major league debut in 2001 and has played in the majors as recently as three weeks ago with the Philadelphia Phillies, he has still only amassed 25 hits in the big leagues in 96 official at-bats. The No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club is the only thing that has rescued Hoover from baseball anonymity.
Last night, Jonathon Niese became the latest Met to be victimized by a member of the No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club when Chris Denorfia recorded the only hit against him in the third inning. It's only fitting that it was a player like Denorfia who got the hit. After all, looking at his career statistics, he seemed destined to become a Club member.
Denorfia broke into the major leagues in 2005 with the Cincinnati Reds and is now playing for his third major league team. Despite the fact that he has been on a major league roster for five of the past six years, he has only collected 74 hits in the big leagues, of which 16 have been doubles. Unfortunately for Jonathon Niese and the Mets, hit #74 and double #16 prevented no-hitter #1 from happening.
The No-Hitter Breaker-Uppers Club card has its advantages, which is why card-carrying members should never leave home without it. After all, unless if you're a Mets fan, no one would ever have any idea who these Club members were.
However, if you said they're the only two pitchers in Mets history to pitch a complete game one-hitter in which the one hit was the only thing preventing them from pitching perfect games, then pat yourself on the back. You are a true Mets fan!
On July 9, 1969, Tom Seaver's date with perfection was unfortunately chaperoned by the Cubs' Jimmy Qualls. Once Seaver got a little too close to perfection, Qualls stepped in to break things up. In this case, the breakup occurred with one out in the ninth inning and came in the form of a clean single to left-center.
Seaver was one of only four pitchers in Mets history to pitch more than one complete game one-hitter. Two of the other three were Gary Gentry and Jon Matlack. The third was Steve Trachsel, who came closest to joining Niese and Seaver on the "28 batters up, 27 batters down" list.
On August 18, 2003, Trachsel (who had already pitched a one-hitter earlier in the season against the Angels) retired the first 17 Colorado Rockies to face him before pitcher Chin-Hui Tsao doubled off him to break up the perfect game bid. Trachsel then retired the next eight hitters until Greg Norton reached first on a throwing error by first baseman Jason Phillips with one out in the ninth inning. After the last two batters were retired in order, Trachsel found himself with a complete game one-hitter where he did not walk or hit a batter. However, the ninth inning error preventing him from joining Seaver as the only pitchers in Mets history who missed perfection by one batter.
Now Jonathon Niese can lay claim to one of the best pitching performances in Mets history. Last night, Chris Denorfia's third inning double was the only blemish in a near-perfect performance by Niese. He may not be the best pitching prospect in franchise history, but he is now up there with "The Franchise" when it comes to best pitching performances in team history.
Jonathon Niese and Tom Seaver. Once upon a time, their only connection was that they were both homegrown talents. Now they will forever be connected by near-perfection.
Congratuations to Jonathon Niese on his masterful pitching performance! Let's hope there are many more left in the tank.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Niese became the 34th pitcher in Mets history to throw a one-hitter, joining greats such as Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. On the other hand, he also joined not-so-greats Pete Schourek, Shawn Estes and Aaron F. Heilman on the Mets one-hitter list.
Whether he'll follow in the golden footsteps of Ryan, Seaver and Gooden or the muddy tracks left behind by Schourek, Estes and Heilman is yet to be determined, but one thing's for sure. Jonathon Niese has pitched brilliantly since returning from the disabled list last Saturday.
In addition to being effective in keeping men off base, he's also been very economical with his pitches. In his first start back from the DL on Saturday, he threw 90 pitches in seven innings and was only removed because of an understandable pitch count.
Tonight, Niese only needed 108 pitches to pitch his complete game gem. After eight innings, Niese had thrown 99 pitches. He could have been removed by Jerry Manuel, who had Francisco Rodriguez warming up in the bullpen. But as the crowd called for their 23-year old southpaw to come out of the dugout for the ninth inning, the bullpen door remained shut. It was then that we knew Jonathon Niese was coming out there to finish what he started. And what a finish it was. He retired Lance Zawadski, pinch hitter Nick Hundley and Jerry Hairston, Jr. on only nine pitches, capping off a nearly perfect night, when Chris Denorfia's third inning double was the only blemish in Jon Niese's performance.
The Mets have still never had a no-hitter in franchise history. But they got really close to a perfect game tonight. Jonathon Niese retired the final 21 batters to face him and at the same time might have given the Mets hope that they have a third quality starter on their staff after Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana.
Niese has now pitched two beautiful games since coming off the disabled list last week. He also shut down the Phillies back in late April before getting hurt. With multiple successful outings this season, this homegrown talent appears to be taking the right track to a successful career with the Mets.
Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden all pitched one-hitters for the Mets. They were also all homegrown talents. More importantly, they all own Mets World Series rings. So far, Jonathon Niese can claim the one-hitter and homegrown talent to his name. There's one more thing to shoot for. With more outings like tonight, the Mets know that if they are to get themselves another ring, Jonathon Niese might be a key contributor towards that goal. How amazin' is that!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Although no one has confirmed that the bottle actually contained the beverage of champions, how the phudge did this kid's parents allow him to get anywhere near an open beer bottle?
Then again, we are talking about Phillies Phans. It should come as no surprise that the same fan base that produced the projectile vomiter who victimized a cop's kid (no word on whether the cop's kid was drinking at the time) and the fan who needed to be tasered when he ran onto the field during a game (see photo below) would also have a future AA member make his drinking debut at a Phillies game.
Due to an assortment of injuries, the Phillies have had to call up a number of their minor leaguers this year. However, after seeing the young boy enjoy his liquid Happy Meal, perhaps the Phillies will have to specify whether AA refers to where their minor leaguers come from or where their minor age fans are going.
Stay crassy, Philadelphia. Stay crassy.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Why don't you join me as I offer a toast to three players who helped fantasy teams immensely this week. These three players should be added to your team as soon as possible so that you can reap all the benefits they have to offer.
Catcher: Ronny Paulino, Marlins
Paulino has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins. Over the past week, he hit .320 (8-for-25) and drove in eight runs. This is the first time he's been an everyday catcher since his days with the Pittsburgh Pirates and he's taking full advantage of the opportunity. For the season, Paulino is hitting .310, with 3 HR and 23 RBI. His .280 career batting average suggest that he can continue to produce base hits. He has also twice driven in 55 runs in a season, so there is no reason to believe that he can't match and perhaps surpass those totals this year.
First base: Troy Glaus, Braves
Glaus has been a pleasant surprise for the Braves, who needed help at first base during the offseason and took a chance with the oft-injured slugger. After being limited to 29 at-bats with the Cardinals in 2009, Glaus has bounced back nicely, as he is leading the National League with 44 RBI. Much of his damage has been done over the past week, as Glaus is hitting .348 (8 for his last 23) with a whopping 5 HR and 12 HR over those at-bats. He is one of the main reason that the Braves have won 10 of their 11 games and have pushed their way to the top of the NL East.
Starting Pitcher: Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
After the departure of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, the Blue Jays needed a new ace. They certainly got one in Ricky Romero. Romero has been brilliant and durable this year. He leads the American League in innings pitched with 85.1. He also leads the major leagues in strikeouts with 86. That's right. Your major league leader in strikeouts is not Tim Lincecum, but the unheralded Ricky Romero. The 25-year-old lefty is averaging over seven innings pitched per start and is holding his own in the ERA and WHIP departments (3.06 and 1.20, respectively). His pitching has been one of the reasons why the Blue Jays are toe-to-toe with the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox in the hotly-contested AL East.
Although these three players were not high on anyone's preseason draft lists, there is no arguing that they should be on your fantasy teams now. By getting any or all of these players, I predict that your team will rise to the top of your league before you leave Fantasy Baseball Island.
Now, I present to you my sidekick, Tattoo, who will talk to you about the little players who have been coming up big for their teams.
Thank you, Mr. Roarke. For many years, baseball players have been bulking up to perform better on the field, whether it be through weight lifting, performance enhancing drugs, excessive hot-dog eating, or by saying the words "By the power of Grayskull".
However, not all players have to be huge to come up large for their teams. Here are three players who performed like big stars despite their small stature.
Second base: David Eckstein, Padres
The 5'7" Eckstein came up big this week for the Padres. Over the last four games, he has hit .333 (6-for-18) with three doubles. His two-out, two-strike, game-tying RBI single on Wednesday against the Mets helped the Padres snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. His scrappiness is not just the Mets' problem. It has become the league's problem, as Eckstein is the toughest batter to strike out, having fanned only seven times this year. He won't fill up the stat sheet like a Chase Utley or a Robinson Cano would, but when all other second basemen are gone, don't forget about the little people like David Eckstein.
Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera, Reds
The 5'10" Cabrera has bounced around from team to team since the beginning of the 2004 season, playing for the Montreal Expos, the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Orange County near Disneyland at an In-N-Out Burger, the Chicago White Sox, the Oakland A's, the Minnesota Twins and the Bad News Bears (sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds) before finally putting an end to his peripatetic ways in Cincinnati. He has rewarded the Reds' confidence in him by being their best offensive shortstop since Barry Larkin. For the season, Cabrera is hitting .269, but has been producing in the extra-base hit department (12 doubles, 3 HR), the stolen base department (8 SB without being caught) and has scored 25 runs while driving in 27. All around, this little guy has been a serviceable fantasy player and should not be ignored even if you can barely see him on the field.
Relief Pitcher: Billy Wagner, Braves
The diminutive southpaw who spent a year on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery has proven that he is fully recovered from his ordeal. Questions about whether he could come back from that procedure at age 38 have been answered. Yes, he can! The old Billy Wagner is back and the Braves are happy to have him. So far this season, Wagner has picked up four wins and nine saves. In 21.1 innings, he has struck out 33 batters. Simple complicated math shows that of the 64 outs he's recorded, more than half have been via the strikeout. He has also done a fine job of limiting men from reaching base and scoring, compiling a 1.69 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP, while holding opposing batters to a .164 batting average against him. On behalf of all the dead little people in the world like me, I say "Merci" to Billy Wagner for showing that height doesn't always dictate your stature in baseball.
Apparently, we have a gate-crasher on Fantasy Baseball Island, someone who arrived on zee plane, zee plane to offer his two cents. Some of you may know him already. Here's Joey Beartran.
Excuse me, but isn't this Studious Metsimus? Why are we talking about players on other teams and not the Mets? Don't make me do a special Joey's Soapbox feature to rip apart this particular blog post.
Anyway, since we ARE talking about fantasy baseball, I thought I'd tell you which Mets players are hot and should be added to your team if they're not already there. Following in the footsteps of Mr. Roarke and the secretary of the French-Filipino segment of the Lollipop Guild, I will discuss three Mets players you should consider when trying to revamp the fantasy team you thought would compete in your league, but in reality is full of underachieving guys like Carlos Lee, Raul Ibanez and Grady Sizemore.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes
Many people did not draft Reyes due to their concern over how he would return from his leg and thyroid issues. Those who did draft him were not impressed over the first month and a half, as Reyes was having difficulty getting on base. In fact, if fantasy leagues gave rewards for pop-ups, Reyes would have been that league's MVP (most valuable popper-upper). However, over the last few weeks, Reyes has been the Reyes we all know and love. Since May 22, Reyes has hit .352 and has a .407 OBP. In those 13 games, he's scored nine runs, driven in nine runs, stolen five bases and has six extra-base hits (three doubles, two triples, one home run). The fantasy juggernaut might have turned a corner and should be added to your team as soon as possible.
Outfielder: Angel Pagan
With the discharge of Private Matthews, Angel Pagan no longer has to look over his shoulder in center field, unless if he's successfully chasing down a fly ball. Pagan has eschewed his flawed defense and baserunning for solid all-around play and is no longer viewed as a good fourth outfielder, but as a starting center fielder and quality fantasy player. His overall numbers are quite decent (.287, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 9 SB, 31 runs scored), but over the past month, he's been outstanding. Since May 5, Pagan has hit .324, with 19 runs scored, 3 HR, 13 RBI and 7 SB. He has also cut down on his strikeouts, with only 19 Ks over his last 108 at-bats since May 5. Pagan is the guy you want that no one else has.
Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey
Everyone knows about Pelfrey's hot start, yet still he's not mentioned among the top fantasy pitchers in baseball. For the year, Big Pelf is 8-1, with a 2.39 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Perhaps he is overlooked because he is not a strikeout pitcher, but he is posting the best strikeout rates of his career. (52 Ks in 71.2 innings or 6.5 K/9 innings. His previous best strikeouts per nine innings rate was 5.6 in 2007.) More importantly for Pelfrey is that unlike his teammates' inability to win on the road, he has been able to pitch well away from Citi Field. In five appearances on the road, Pelfrey is 3-1, with a 2.93 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. He also picked up a save in St. Louis. The rest of the team is a combined 5-17 on the road. Mike Pelfrey should be on your fantasy team, whether at home or on the road.
That concludes this week's edition of Fantasy Baseball Island. We hope you enjoyed your stay and come back again soon. Parting gifts will be given in the form of better fantasy baseball teams for you and your friends.
Until next time, Mr. Roarke, Tattoo and Joey Beartran bid you adieu (Joey says "Gesundheit") and hope that all your fantasies come true.