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Giving the New Guy The Ball

The new guy gets the ball on Monday, and I'm obviously psyched for the debut of Johan Santana as a Met, but at the same time, I'm a little cautious. The Mets are 1-5 (with an asterisk) on Opening Days in which they give the new guy the ball.

The last time we gave the new guy the ball was in 2005, and while that opener started well, it didn't end in a positive fashion. Pedro Martinez struck out a dozen in six innings, and fellow new guys Manny Aybar and Dae Sung Koo looked pretty stellar for an inning apiece. But then the holdover came in and screwed everything up by allowing back-to-back homers, including the walk-off to Joe Randa.

The new guy got the ball in 2003 and that game isn't worthy of more than a sentence. Suffice it to say, Tom Glavine set the tone for his entire tenure with the stinkeroo that was a 15-2 loss to the Cubs.

They gave the new guy the ball to kick off 2000, and he couldn't throw it over the plate. Mike Hampton walked nine in five innings, yet somehow allowed only two runs. Wonder if he blamed the school systems in Japan for the 5-3 loss to the Cubs in Tokyo.

They gave the new guy the ball and the loudest standing ovation any Met will likely ever get on Opening Day, back in 1983. But the new guy that day wasn't really new. He was just Tom Terrific, back in his proper attire to throw six shutout innings in a 2-0 Mets win over the Phillies.

The new guy got the ball to kick off 1967, but that's because the kids weren't fully ready to go yet, and though a guy that was 6-6 for the 1966 Pirates wouldn't exactly be most people's first choice to make the season debut, the Mets weren't good enough at the time to be able to call on anyone else. And Don Cardwell was quite respectable for eight innings against his former team, before faltering as Pittsburgh snapped a 3-3 tie with a three-run ninth.

The new guy got the ball in 1962, but that's cheating, since everybody was a new guy that day. Roger Craig lost to the Cardinals, 11-4, but at least there was a new baseball team in town to root for. That's kind of how I'm looking at today. I've got a new team to root for. Last year's slate is wiped clean, so I'll say the same thing I'm sure the fans said back on that April 11 of 46 years ago. Let's Go Mets.
Say Hey, Shea- OK, so I've been struggling all winter long to come up with a concept that I could carry on throughout the season, one that would pay proper tribute to Shea Stadium, maintiainin the spirit of this blog. I think I've found one, though I offer no guarantees that I will follow through with it long-term

Say Hey, Shea will deal with Shea Stadium-related trivia and minutiae(anything goes...if I want to write something basic, like "Most HR at Shea by an Opponent" I will, but be prepared for material more along the lines of "Whom did Shea Stadium peanut vendor Ed Glynn dominate as a pitcher?"). Some days it will be a paragraph tacked on to the end of a blog, a la our (or in place of) "True Metophiles Know..." blurbs. Others, it will be the subject of the blog post itself. And on others, it may turn into a trivia quiz, in the vein of "Our Special Bonds"

For example, here's our "Say Hey, Shea" for Opening Day: The first Opening Day in Shea Stadium history took place in 1965 and there's little that was Metmorable about the 6-1 loss to the Dodgers that April 11th other than it allowed phenom pitcher Jim Bethke to wet his feet with a scoreless inning (three straight groundouts from John Kennedy, Don Drysdale, and Maury Wills). Bethke holds a number of distinctions of pertinence to this blog. He's the youngest pitcher in Mets history to get a win, at 18 years, 161 days, a victory he got in his next outing (April 15), thanks to a walk-off home run by Bobby Klaus. Bethke was the first pitcher in Mets history to complete a "perfect" season, ie: one in which he won games, but did not lose them. Bethke was 2-0 in 1965, his only season in the majors.


Ceetar said…
Well it worked out. I'm taking this as a sign that Johan, and the 2008 Mets are different and better and special and all that.

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