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 Recaps My First Mets Game

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

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

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

Take it away, Eddie!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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