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Showing posts from July 27, 2008

Houston Had a Problem

One of the reasons you should never turn a game off, even the frustrationfest that was Friday's loss to the Astros, is because of a game that took place in Houston 36 years ago. On September 2, 1972, the Mets staged their biggest rally ever, bigger even than the Piazza-completed Braves comeback with which we're quite familiar. The Mets were out of the postseason hunt by then, so thus starting Brent Strom in a September contest was not a big deal. Strom's day was done quickly. By the third inning, the Astros had a 4-0 lead. With staff ace Don Wilson shutting down the Mets without much issue, the Astros built on their advantage, and after scoring twice in the seventh, the lead had mushroomed to 8-0. It seemed fairly inconsequential when the first three batters reached in the visitors eighth, and there wasn't much thought of a comeback when Tommie Agee brought home one with a sacrifice fly. But then Ken Boswell's three-run home run ended Wilson's night and sliced

All Rhodes Lead to Walk-Offs

You can see why the Marlins thought it wise to pick up Arthur Rhodes by looking at the Mets hitters who have struggled against him. Carlos Delgado- .167 BA, 5 hits, 8 strikeouts Damion Easley- .188 BA (3 for 16) Fernando Tatis- 0 for 4 David Wright- 0 for 4 But there is one Met who has some success against Rhodes and he figures to be key to any Mets-Marlins matchup the rest of the way. Carlos Beltran is 4-for-10 in his career against Rhodes and among his successes is a walk-off home run. Sure it was awhile ago, July 20, 2003, but it was still significant. The Royals, believe it or not, were in first place at the time, and so were the Mariners. Kansas City had been going pretty good all season, good enough that blowing a 5-0 seventh inning lead didn't faze them. And facing Rhodes in the 10th inning, even behind in the count, 0-2, didn't bother Beltran, who crushed his first career walk-off home run, a deep drive to left center field that appeared to tick off the glove of none ot

Butch Huskidy and the Sunshine Kid

It's common for me on an off-day to thumb through the Mets media guide, randomly looking for notes of interest. Today, for some reason, I was drawn to page 204, which lists the longest hitting streak in Mets history. If you were going to play "Who doesn't belong" on the list of those to have hit in 20 or more consecutive games for the Mets, the name that stands out is Butch Huskey. Butch Huskey's 20-game hit streak is pertinent to this blog because of a funky coincidence. The first and last games were both walk-off wins. Huskey didn't get the headlines on either August 22, when the hitting streak commenced, nor September 13, when it reached its apex. The latter occurred on the day of the "Brand New Shiny" walk-off . The former was due to a story of another nature. Remember when Bobby Valentine griped that Todd Hundley wasn't getting enough sleep? Remember Hundley's response? It came on that day in a rather wacky contest between the Mets and P

Oh Doctor (Taylor)

My parents are visiting Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada this week, and while the trip doesn't particularly interest me on its own merits (I'm sorry...I don't like to travel), it does give me an excuse to blog about the best Canadian Met. That would be Dr. Ron Taylor, the former reliever who hails from Toronto, the one Canadian city I've visited previously (The SkyDome gets an A+...the rest of the city, eh...). Purchased from the Astros after he had a mediocre 1966 season, Taylor was a key component of the Mets bullpen from 1967 to 1971. Taylor had a rough stretch early in his Mets career, allowing runs in six of his first 12 appearances in that 1967 season. But then he settled down rather nicely. Over his next 17 appearances, he allowed but one run in 24 2/3 innings. Among his successful appearances was an exciting walk-off win against the Pirates on June 26. It sounded like a rather entertaining game from the newspaper accounts I've read, one that would fit i

Moon Shots

For today's other anniversary-related entry, click here July 29 also marks the 50th anniversary of NASA, which is pertinent to me because I know I have a regular reader logging on from that organization. My knowledge of astronomy is limited to a few visits to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and a failed attempt many years ago to spot Halley's Comet. But as the subject relates to the Mets, I have a little more knowledge. One of the Mets more entertaining wins in 1969 came on July 20, the day that man landed on the moon for the first time. The Mets were in the midst of a little bit of a letdown, having just beaten the first-place Cubs two of three, but couldn't take advantage of the expansion Expos. Montreal beat them in the first two games of that series, including the opener of a doubleheader. To avoid a sweep, the Mets needed to win the second contest. While the folks at NASA were in the midst of their fi

Shades of Grey

Today is the 13th anniversary of a Mets walk-off win for which I was in attendance, so I shall reminisce. The highlight of the 1995 season was the Mets finally dumping Bobby Bonilla. Their on-the-field highlight may have been this game, a fun one between the Mets and Pirates, otherwise inconsequential to any pennant race. What do I remember about myself from 1995? That was the year I began an internship at a local newspaper and became sports director of my college campus radio station (91.3 FM, WTSR, Trenton, "Open Your Mind"). I also remember being prematurely grey. Anytime this then 20-year-old got a haircut, there would be snips of white in between the black strands. It's not a significant issue now though. I guess I was a nervous youngster. Much like the game we remembered on Monday, this too was a pitcher's duel, though there would be no complete game for Bret Saberhagen or Denny Neagle. As it turned out, it was Saberhagen's final appearance as a Met, as he t

'Complete'ly By Surprise

You know what's more rare than a complete game these days? How about a complete game walk-off win. The Mets haven't had one of those in 10 years. The last one came on August 1, 1998. The Mets and Dodgers dueled that day in a contest with a rather thrilling payoff. The game was a scoreless pitchers duel for seven innings between Rick Reed and Carlos Perez. With two outs and nobody on in the eighth, Luis Lopez inserted for defensive purposes, booted a likely inning-ending grounder from Alex Cora. The next hitter, Eric Young, made Lopez pay, lining a double down the left field line to plate Cora and give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. The Mets put two men on base in the home eighth, but reliever Antonio Osuna worked wonders, setting down Mike Piazza, Brian McRae and Lenny Harris, to maintain an edge for Los Angeles. Reed, whose turn didn't come around in the eighth, stuck around for the ninth and got the side out. It looked like he'd end up on the short end with a complete-game d

A Long Knight's Journey Into Day

Before Albert Pujols, the last visiting player to hit a game-winning HR at Shea Stadium in the 14th inning or later was Rondell White, for the 1997 Expos. That game, on September 12, was one in which the Mets also didn't hit with runners in scoring position (1-for-13) and left plenty on base (16). Jerry Manuel would do well to know about that game, since White is Manuel's son-in-law. The good news for Mets fans is that the next day produced one of the great comebacks in Mets history, a rally from 6-0 down in the 9th, tying on Carl Everett's "brand new shiny" grand slam and winning on Bernard Gilkey's walk-off home run (we've written about that before). Unrelated, both to Manuel, and to that series of notes, was the performance of Cardinals outfielder Skip Schumaker, who joins Bill Madlock (1975) and Willie Davis (1973) as the only players to get 6 hits in a game against the Mets. Funny thing though- the Mets won those other two games. The most recent, amaz