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You Think I'm Fooling?

Ok...today marks my 3rd attempt at starting a blog (my first one lasted approximately 4 hours before I realized that I wasn't motivated enough to do this, the second made it through 10 months and 200 posts before I realized I'd run out of material).

I don't profess to be an expert in this by any means, but I thought it would be worthwhile. About 10 months ago, I came across a blog that was very unique- PlunkBiggio, which is devoted to recording Craig Biggio's hit-by-pitch count. It is rare to find such a cleverly done "niche blog" and in thinking about it, I decided that it is time to create my own. To make a long story short, I have decided to create a blog that chronicles Mets walks.

In watching games for the last quarter century, it has become clear that the most interesting type of Mets play to watch/write about/talk about is a walk. This is a franchise that is well-known for making its fans suffer through torturous games, and torturous plate appearances. There is a website known as "The Ultimate Mets Database" that allows fans to reminisce about games and players, and I hope that this blog can serve as a worthy, easily accessible companion to that site and others.

As an FYI: Walks by Mets pitchers are forbidden from discussion. There are too many bad memories regarding the incompetent work of a certain lefthander against a certain righthanded rival in a critical postseason situation and thus the subject shall never be broached.

Admittedly, chronicling the history of 22,534 bases on balls seems a bit excessive, but I'm convinced that I can get through it in an entertaining and informative fashion, if you'll give me a free pass (pardon the pun) and permit the indulgence. Walking requires patience and understanding and those who possess both will enjoy my new labor.

There is much interesting knowledge to be gleaned from the history of four-ball scenarios in Mets history. In just a few hours of work, I was able to study them in fascinating detail, to the point where I was able to compile a list of those most significant and memorable to the Flushing faithful. They include...

The first one...In the 3rd inning of the Mets first regular-season game, against the Cardinals, Felix Mantilla made history, drawing the first walk in Mets history. It came with one man on base and one out against Larry Jackson and proved to be an effective strategic maneuver. Mantilla's walk was overshadowed by the first RBI in Mets history, by Charlie Neal. The maneuver was particularly effective as the Mets tallied twice in the frame, with Mantilla scoring on a Frank Thomas sac fly, tying the game at two.

The intimidating one...In the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 NLCS, the Mets mounted a remarkable rally that might not have been possible were it not for what happened with them trailing 3-2, with a runner on third and one man out. Astros reliever Dave Smith worked Gary Carter carefully, putting him on base with a free pass. Next up was Darryl Strawberry, who was as likely to hit into a double play (if Smith threw a good splitter) as belt a go-ahead homer. With the count 3-2, Strawberry hit one of the most amazing foul balls you'll ever see. Bob Murphy estimated it as travelling 500 feet, with Gary Thorne chiming in that it landed in the eighth row of the fifth level. Clearly flummoxed, Smith walked Strawberry to load the bases. Ray Knight followed with a game-tying sac fly and little did we know that we had a few more innings left to play.

Ball on the Walk...They refer to the story of the game of September 20, 1973, by a different name, but lest we forget that the pivotal contest of the NL East was won in the 13th inning and that Ron Hodges' game-winning single would not have been possible were it not for the lack of control by Luke Walker, who bypassed John Milner and Ken Boswell to commence the lucky frame.

Walk This Rey(es)...It took Jose Reyes a full month, until May 3 of the 2005 season, to draw his first walk, and this one from Tim Worrell, which forced home a run in the ninth inning of an otherwise uneventful blowout loss to the Phillies, is one of the few in Mets history that got its proper due- a standing ovation.

Memories of the Summer of '69...Tommie Agee's remarkable catches helped vault him into Mets Hall of Fameworthy status and properly so. But what may really have sapped Baltimore's strength in Game 3 of the 1969 World Series took place in the second inning. With two outs and nobody on, Orioles hurler Jim Palmer must have thought that a walk would have no consequence. After all, the next two spots after Jerry Grote took his free base, were occupied by Bud Harrelson and Gary Gentry. Palmer clearly didn't expect what followed- a single by Harrelson and a two-run double by Gentry, turning a 1-0 lead into a very safe 3-0 cushion.

The Prattfall...Previous to Robin Ventura's grand slam single that left those attendees at Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS giddy, Todd Pratt stepped to the plate in a dangerous spot, with the Mets trailing by a run, and a force possible at any base, with three on and one out. A poorly placed ground ball and the Mets season would have been over. Pratt crouched a bit tighter than usual and coaxed four mislocated pitches from Kevin McGlinchy, bringing home the tying run and setting up the fantastic finish.

The recordbreaker...Speaking of 1999, John Olerud needed no performance enhancement to shatter the Mets record for walks in a season. Olerud surpassed the mark of 97, previously held by Keith Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry (who still has the career mark), on August 18 in San Diego. Though the game was not stopped to pay tribute, Olerud was unfazed. He walked three times that day, giving him an even 100, then received 25 more free tickets over the rest of the season. No one will likely come close to his club mark of 125 any time soon.

Welcome Home Tom Terrific...We'll make an exception to our rule prohibiting references to walks by Mets pitchers for one of a different nature. On Opening Day, 1983, Tom Seaver returned to the family. In one of the most chilling non-game related moments in Mets history, Seaver soaked in a thunderous standing ovation during his walk from the field to the dugout prior to the contest's beginning. Seaver got a no-decision (he walked one), but pitched well and the Mets won, 2-0.

And since we're in such a good mood, with the opening of a baseball season (and plenty of new walk memories) beginning for the Mets on Monday, here's a few extra pieces of Walk Minutiae for you to share with your friends and family.

* Keith Hernandez is the only Mets player to ever lead the NL in walks. He did so in 1986 when he drew 94.

* The 1999 Mets drew the most walks in club history- 717. The 1964 Mets drew the fewest 353 for a Mets squad in a non-shortened season.

* The Mets have drawn 2,383 intentional walks, which accounts for 10.6 percent of their walk total.

* Harry Parker holds the Mets record for most walks in a season by someone who got no hits in that particular season. In 1975, he went 0-for-18 but drew four walks.

* "The Walking Man," also known as Ed Yost, never played for the Mets, but did coach for the team from 1968 to 1975. He was joined on staff by Rube Walker (no relation to Chico and his 38 Mets walks), a coach from 1968 to 1981.

* Former pitcher Bob Walk walked 47 Mets in 110 innings against them, which might explain the 7-7 record and 4.91 ERA

* Lastly, we return to our roots with this nugget that you may recall. The Mets have drawn 15 walk-off walks in their illustrious history. Amazingly, Ron Swoboda has four of them.

My apologies to my fellow bloggers for being late on sharing their late-breaking news. Check out "Faith and Fear" for the latest on the Mets big move and Metstradamus for info on Bud Selig's latest move.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Congratulations on the new blog! It's about time, though I shudder to recall Kenny Rogers' role in Mets walk history.
The What If Walk(s) - No Met pitcher has ever thrown a no-hitter as we all know. But Tom Seaver walked four batters in his one-hitter vs. the Padres on July 4, 1972. Had he not walked TWO of those four, Leron Lee might not have ever gotten up again to break up his no-hitter with one out in the ninth.
Most Important Walk Ever - If not Tim Teufel in the seventh game of the '86 World Series then it had to be John Milner in the four-run fifth-inning rally of the '73 NLCS. Garrett doubles. Millan bunts and Driessen thinks it's a force and doens't tag Garrett on a bunt. Jones doubles to make it 3-2. At this point, it's still a game. Gullett appears to strike out Milner, but it is called a ball to the anger of Johnny Bench. Then he walks. The rest is history. Mays' chopper makes it 4-2 and it's 6-2 by the end of the inning and the Mets roll to the pennant.

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Cliff Notes

Alright, so it's 2 days later and the challenge for me now, after reading through about a dozen game stories and listening to talk radio, is to provide a fresh perspective on walk-off #324. If you're going to be a serious reader of this blog, you know what happened already, so let's look at what made this particular walk-off stand out. It would seem that the place to start is with the idea that everything broke just right on both sides of the ball. Particularly, I'm talking about Carlos Beltran's catch in the 7th inning, where he went over the center field fence to rob Jose Molina of a home run. Every no-hitter seems to have one defensive gem that makes it possible and perhaps that's true of great walk-off moments as well (We'll be looking into that!) Marlon Anderson's home run required a remarkable combination of events. It was only the sixth inside-the-park home run at Shea Stadium by a Met and the first since Darryl Strawberry in 1989. It required t