Skip to main content

Racin' Jason

Shea Stadium has puzzled, bedeviled and flummoxed many a good hitter with its combination of dimensions and weather conditions. There's a frustration factor that comes from too many long fly balls turned into outs and the result is that the batting average plummets.

In my 25-odd years of Mets watching, I've seen the ballpark dominate the player, rather than the other way around, a few too many times. There was one hitter though, who for what was otherwise a rather dismal campaign, had a complete mastery of everything Sheaness.

In 2003 we were introduced to Jason Phillips, a rather candid Californian with molassesesque speed, a sharp quick bat, and a penchant for doing nimble splits to catch stray throws at first base. In the absence of Mo Vaughn, Phillips, who signed with the Blue Jays on Tuesday, became the team's most pleasant surprise.

By July 13, the Mets were basically dead and buried, at 39-53 and in the NL East basement with one day remaining before the All-Star Break. Art Howe, Tom Glavine and company all got off to miserable starts, injuries took their toll, and the eason really had few purposes by this point. The Mets and Phillies were putting the wraps on a three-game series at Shea, with Tom Glavine twirling against Brett Myers. The real highlight of the day was that ex-Mets closer Tug McGraw, battling a brain tumor, threw out the first pitch, but there was a game to play as well

The Phillies led 2-0 going into the home fifth when the Flushing 9 strung together a nice rally. Jose Reyes knocked in one run and Phillips brought him home with a double. He then scored when Jeromy Burnitz followed with a double.

The Mets held that 3-2 lead into the 9th, but 2003 was not a kind year to their closer Armando Benitez, who yielded the tying run after retiring the first two batters in the ninth in what turned out to be his last game with the team. He left to a series of rather unpleasant sounds from those who attended the contest.

In the ninth inning, the Mets had a man on with one out for Reyes, who hit a line drive to right field. Bobby Abreu had trouble with it and Roger Cedeno stumbled his way to third base, putting the Mets within 90 feet of a win. The Phillies intentionally walked Jeff Duncan, an odd move, albeit a forced one since they decided it was best to set up a force at any base. Phillips, who already had two hits, got ahead 2-0 on Terry Adams and whacked the next pitch to right field, good for a game-winning single.

That kind of hit became a familiar sight. Phillips succeeded be he was patient and smart. He was a good clutch hitter and a good table setter because of his ability to hit the ball into the gaps and his skill for drawing walks. He also had no issues with one of the most difficult ballparks in baseball. In his rookie campaign, Phillips hit .354 at Shea Stadium, with a .556 slugging percentage (comparitively speaking, Mike Piazza only slugged better than that in one season during his Mets career). He finished the season in a slump, as a .217 September took him down to .298 and that served to foreshadow the events of the next two seasons.

Over that time, Phillips has abandoned that which made him good, causing most to dwell on what makes him bad (his lack of speed has established him as one of the slowest in the game). He seemed to be a bit rushed at the plate, the solid line drive singles and doubles turned into pop ups, and he voiced his frustration in ways that ticked some folks off, particularly the media in Los Angeles where he played during the 2005 season. I don't have a particular answer as to why Phillips' head got all screwy (pardon the pun), but I'll be an interested observer in seeing if he can return to form in Toronto.

True Metdrivers know...The only other Jason to get a walk-off hit for the Mets is Jason Hardtke.


Popular posts from this blog

Walk-Offs in Movies, TV, and Other Places

Note: I'm leaving this post up through the end of the week, a) because I don't have time to pump out something new and b)because I was hoping to build a really good list of entertainment industry if you're looking for something new, check back on Monday or so... Of course, if there's a major trade or move, I'll adjust and try to post something... In the meantime, click on the "Table of Contents" link as well. It has been updated. SPOILER ALERT: Read at your own risk Caught the ending of "A League of Their Own" on one of the movie channels the other day and it got me to thinking that it would be fun to compile a list of walk-offs from movies, television, and other forms of entertainment. Here's the start, and only the start, as I spent about 30 minutes or so thinking it over Help me fill in the blanks by filling out the comments section. "A League of Their Own"-- Racine beats Rockford for the All-American Girls Profess

The best Mets ejections I know

When you think of the Mets and famous ejections, I'm guessing you first think of the famous Bobby Valentine mustache game, when after Valentine got tossed, he returned to the dugout in disguise. You know it. You love it. I remember being amused when I asked Bobby V about it while we were working on Baseball Tonight, how he simply said "It worked. We won the game." (true) But the Bobby V mustache game of June 9, 1999 is one of many, many memorable Mets ejection stories. And now thanks to Retrosheet and the magic of , we have a convenient means for being able to share them. Ever since Retrosheet's David Smith recently announced that the Retrosheet ejection database was posted online , I've been a kid in a candy store. I've organized the data and done some lookups of media coverage around the games that interested me post. Those newspaper accounts fill in a lot of blanks. Without further ado (and with more work to do), here are some of my findings

Best Games I Know: Phillies (Updated)

  The best wins against the Phillies in Mets history …   May 5, 2022 – Mets 8, Phillies 7 The Mets score 7 runs in the 9 th inning to overcome a 7-1 deficit and win in Philadelphia.   April 29, 2022 – Mets 3, Phillies 0 Tylor Megill and 4 Mets relievers combine on the second no-hitter in franchise history.   September 22, 2016 – Mets 9, Phillies 8 (11) The Mets tie it in the 9 th on a Jose Reyes home run and win it in the 11 th on a 3-run home run by Asdrubal Cabrera.   July 17, 2016 - Mets 5, Phillies 0 Jacob deGrom pitches a one-hitter. Only hit is a single by Zach Eflin in the 5 th inning.   August 24, 2015 – Mets 16, Phillies 7 David Wright homers in his first at-bat in more than 4 months. The Mets hit a team-record 8 home runs.   July 5, 2012 – Mets 6, Phillies 5 The Mets score 2 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9 th to beat Jonathan Papelbon. The winning run scores on David Wright’s bloop down the right field line.   August 13