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Cameron Yards

Mike Cameron is what I like to call a "chaser," both at the plate and in the field. His habit of swinging at everything that came his way left him in a few too many 0-2 holes for my liking ( a friend assured me he'd hit .265 his first season. I knew better.) His penchant for tracking down fly balls by judging the expected spot of their landing didn't work as well as I would have thought in Shea Stadium's vast centerfield (I thought he was pretty good in right field, actually), resulting in a few more misplays than expected from a Gold Glover. I don't dispute that Mike Cameron has the skills of a very good ballplayer. I think that as a Met, Cameron didn't necessarily get the most out of his skills, partly due to injuries and partly due to his own overeagerness.

Nonetheless, as Cameron departs in favor of Xavier Nady, a decent player with a more favorable contract, we'll pay tribute to him in this space by acknowledging his place in Mets history. Cameron, along with Jerry Buchek and John Milner, are the only players in Mets history to get walk-off hits on back-to-back-days.

Cameron did so on June 18 and June 19, 2004, against the Tigers, during a period in which he was on the hot end of the hot/cold streaks that dotted his two-year Flushing tenure. His first came on a night in which the Mets honored Mike Piazza for breaking the catchers home run record. After the Tigers failed to cash in with a runner on third and one out in the ninth, Cameron clubbed a no-doubt dinger over the left field fence off Danny Patterson, to give the Mets a 3-2 win. The newspaper stories reference how Cameron was playing with a case of "road rage" after getting caught in a traffic jam on the way to Shea. Coincidentally, 'driven' might actually be the right word to describe Cameron's state of mind now, as he didn't seem particularly happy with the Mets upon departing.

Cameron was a happy man on the 19th in helping Braden Looper earn his second win in as many days. With the Mets trailing 3-1 in the eighth inning, they rallied, scoring twice to knot the game and eventually send it into bonus baseball mode.

In the home 10th, Jose Reyes, not long off the disabled list, tripled with one out. The Tigers walked the next two batters- Ty Wigginton and Cliff Floyd and the strategy initially worked as Patterson got Shane Spencer to hit into a force play, with Reyes being thrown out at the plate. So the game came down to Cameron against Patterson again, and again, Cameron delivered, poking a long fly to left field that dropped on the warning track for a game-winning single.

Cameron had one other Met moment that ties into a walk-off, a game-tying ninth inning home run on August 2, 2005 against the Brewers, setting up Mike Piazza's walk-off walk in the 11th. Cameron failed much more often than he succeeded in spots like that (he was 22-for-133 over two seasons in what is known as a "late-inning pressure situation in statistical terms). That may have been what led to Omar Minaya's thinking that Nady was a better fit. Or perhaps it's because Minaya is a "chaser" as well, with the target in this case being Mr. Manny Ramirez.

True Metphabet fans know...Xavier Nady will try to become the first player whose first name started with the letter X to get a walk-off RBI for the Mets. The Mets have never had a player whose first name started with the letters I, O, P, U, X, Y, or Z get a walk-off RBI.


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