Espo’s Trivia Challenge: Fun Facts 2013 Edition

Getting to know your Mets can be a fun process, especially if you look past the everyday fun stuff of hits, runs, errors, strikeouts, etc., you know…stats.

But ballplayers are people, too, or so they say, so sometimes there are moments in their illustrious past, often baseball related, and laced with stats, that are quite trivial, but can also amuse or entertain on a different level, and makes for interesting “facts” you can pass on to your friends when there’s a lull in your conversation.

For example, did you know that Jonathon Niese, was the last Mets pitcher to enter a game as a pinch-hitter?  He was, on April, 7, 2010, when he was sent up to bat for Hisanori Takahashi.

There you go, you’ll sound just like Ron Darling or Keith Hernandez when they’re tossing out a few tidbits during their SNY telecasts.

For this “Trivia Challenge,” we’re going to focus on the new guys and young players, and see how well you do.  Don’t worry, the first one’s a gimme.

 

 

>>>>> 

 

 

FILL IN THE BLANKS

 

1.___________________ is second to Mariano Rivera in game appearances by current major league pitchers. (No. 2 always tries harder, don’t they?)

 

  1. A.   FRANK FRANCISCO
  2. B.   LATROY HAWKINS
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   PEDRO FELICIANO

 

2.___________________ was once traded for Carlos Beltran in a three-team multi-player deal. (Carlos Who?  Sounds familiar.)

 

  1. A.   JOHN BUCK
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   LATROY HAWKINS
  4. D.   AARON LAFFEY

 

3. ______________ made his major league debut against the Mets in 2002.  (Went 0-3 in a loss to New York, and is still bummed about it)

 

  1. A.   BRANDON LYON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

4._______________ was originally drafted by the Mets in 2005, but chose not to sign with New York. (What? And missed out on all that fun in 2006?)

 

  1. A.   COLLIN COWGILL
  2. B.   ANTHONY RECKER
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   GREG BURKE

 

5._______________ was drafted by the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, but chose to play baseball instead of hockey.  (His dentist was disappointed)

 

  1. A.   MATT HARVEY
  2. B.   GREG BURKE
  3. C.   JAMIE HOFFMAN
  4. D.   SHAWN MARCUM

 

6._______________ played two years with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Central League.  (Sushi for everyone in the clubhouse!)

 

  1. A.   SCOTT ATCHISON
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   SCOTT RICE
  4. D.   LATROY HAWKINS

 

7.______________ has been traded four times, the greatest amount of times being dealt by any Met on the current 40-man roster.  (And keeps a bag packed at all times)

 

  1. A.   LATROY HAWKINS
  2. B.   MARLON BYRD
  3. C.   BRANDON LYON
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

8.______________ was once voted “Mr. Baseball” by his high school. (Does Tom Selleck know about this assault on his title?)

 

  1. A.   KIRK NIEUWENHUIS
  2. B.   LUCAS DUDA
  3. C.   MIKE BAXTER
  4. D.   COLLIN COWGILL

 

9._______________ is a season ticket holder for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. (Really?  The Chiefs?  And he’ll admit to it?)

 

10.______________ became the 962nd player to appear in a game for the NY Mets on Opening Day.  (Shortly after this “new” Met became No. 962, he was soon followed by Nos. 963, 964, 965, 966, and 967 in that first game of the year.)

 

  1. A.   MARLON BYRD
  2. B.   JOHN BUCK
  3. C.   COLLIN COWGILL
  4. D.   SCOTT RICE

 

 

>>>>> 

 

 

ANSWERS

1.B

2.A

3.B

4.D

5.C

6.A

7.C

8.D

9.D

10.C  

 

Posted under Andy Esposito, Anthony Recker, Carlos Beltran, Espo, Everyday Fun, Fun Facts, Greg Burke, Latroy Hawkins, League Debut, Mariano Rivera, New York Mets, Niese, Ron Darling, Scott Atchison, Top Story, Trivia Challenge

Espo’s Trivia Challange: David Wright

He’s already at or near the top of so many Met All-Time offensive categories they could someday name the entire list of hitting categories in his honor, so there’s no telling where David Wright will end up at the end of his newly signed eight-year deal worth some $138 million.  Wright is now the all-time team leader in Hits, Runs, Doubles, RBIs, Total Bases, Extra Base Hits, Multi-Hit Games, Walks, Sacrifice Flies, and was second in At-Bats, and Average.

Wright will be wearing that number 5 Met uniform for a long time, and he can now challenge a team record once thought insurmountable  – the 17 years in uniform held by longtime Met Ed Kranepool, and his well-earned record for games played (1,831).

Until then, and for now, this month’s inaugural Sportsday Mets trivia challenge is dedicated to Wright and his all-time accomplishments with those who occupy the lists ahead or behind him.

 

1. Just behind Wright and Kranepool, with exactly 1,300 hits in a Mets uniform is:

A.   Cleon Jones
B.   B. Bud Harrelson
C.   C. Darryl Strawberry
D.   D. Jose Reyes

2.     Nine Mets have at least 1,000 hits on their Mets ledgers.  Rounding out the Top Ten is this popular Met with 997 hits:

A. Mookie Wilson
B. Howard Johnson
C. Edgardo Alfonzo
D. John Olerud
3. Wright leapfrogged several ex-Mets to now top the all-time Walks category, and dethroned this Met for the No. 1 spot, who had earned 580 free strolls to first:

A. Ed Kranepool
B. Bud Harrelson
C. Darryl Strawberry
D. Mike Piazza

4. In the quirky, but important category of Multi-Hit Games, Wright passed this Met, who had 385 MHGs, as the new leader:

A. Ed Kranepool
B. Cleon Jones
C. Keith Hernandez
D. Jose Reyes

5. Wright was, and is still, third in all-time team slugging percentage.  The leader in this category remains:

A. Darryl Strawberry
B. Mike Piazza
C. Carlos Beltran
D. Frank Thomas

6. It became widely known in the Mets Universe that Wright became just the third Met to reach the 200 home run level, behind Strawberry (252), and Piazza (220).  Just behind them, at 192, is:

A. Dave Kingman
B. Ed Kranepool
C. Howard Johnson
D. Carlos Beltran

7. Wright’s speed on the bases this year earned him the No. 5 slot in all-time stolen bases, way behind all-time leader Reyes, who copped 370 bags.  Wright passed this rather fast Met in the process, who had 152 steals:

A. Ron Hunt
B. Lee Mazzilli
C. Lenny Dykstra
D. Bud Harrelson

8. In the also important category of On-Base Percentage, Wright is locked in at fourth, and we’ll ask if you can put the top three in this category in the correct order, who boast OBPs of .425, .391, and .387:

A. John Olerud, Dave Magadan, Keith Hernandez
B. Keith Hernandez, John Olerud, Dave Magadan
C. Dave Magadan, Keith Hernandez, John Olerud
D. John Olerud, Keith Hernandez, Dave Magadan

9. If you’ve been following Wright’s career, you might know that among National League teams, the Mets third baseman owns his highest batting average (.378) against this club:

A. Atlanta Braves
B. Cincinnati Reds
C. Los Angeles Dodgers
D. St. Louis Cardinals

10. True or false: David Wright has a higher batting average in Citi Field than he had at Shea Stadium.

ANSWERS:

1. D
2. B
3. C
4. D
5. B
6. C
7. B
8. A
9. C
10. False, At Shea: .318, Citi Field: .283

 

 

Posted under Bud Harrelson, Carlos Beltran, Cleon Jones, Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Edgardo Alfonzo, Espo, John Olerud, Jose Reyes, Mhgs, Mike Piazza, New York Mets, Offensive Categories, Sacrifice Flies, Slugging Percentage, Sportsday, Top Story, Trivia Challenge

Bay Goes Bye-Bye

It is fitting though that Bay ends his Met career this way, literally getting a severance package, much in the same way Sandy Alderson ate the contracts of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo.  In a lot of way Bay’s two tenures as Met property represents all that has gone wrong with this franchise since Mike Piazza skied out to Bernie Williams to end the 2000 World Series.

As an Expo prospect he is gobbled up by one of Steve Phillips’ classic assembling spare parts deal for infielder Lou Collier in March of 2002.  In July, he is packaged in the Bobby Jones to San Diego trade in another classic “Steve Phillips love stockpiling relievers” transaction.  Which was probably for the best, would Bay have blossomed here a few years later with Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran around?  Possibly, but in 2002 the Mets, and Phillips, were clearly in the mindset of retooling on the fly and going after anyone that had a bit of value to them.  So clearly anyone with potential, save for the true gems of the organization (save for a certain highly touted pitcher in August of 2004), could be the object of a trade for someone of either major league talent, or AAAA talent to fill out the Met roster.

Interestingly enough, Jason Bay wound up being traded along with Oliver Perez over a year later as the Padres picked up Brian Giles from the Pirates.  With the Pirates of course Bay blossomed, winning the NL Rookie of The Year in 2004 and being selected to the NL All-Star Team in 2005.  In the meantime, the Mets weren’t making fans feeling like Bay was “the one that got away” as offensive production, specifically from the outfield, was pretty much set with Carlos Beltran.  While yes having Bay offsetting the decline of Cliff Floyd and having an ancient Moises Alou around, would have helped, not having his production was not the reason for the Mets to lose the 2006 NLCS or collapse in 2007 and 2008.

Moving on, Bay would be part of the three team trade that saw Manny Ramirez sent to LA, and Bay to Boston.  Perhaps it was the band box that is Fenway Park that further inflated Bay’s offensive production in the 2009 season, but the free agent to be was considered to be one of the big ticket items heading into the winter of 2009.  And so Jason Bay becomes a shining example of Omar Minaya’s flawed way of roster building.  A 5 year, back loaded deal that was sure to be a headache if things went south in a hurry.

This was a staple of Minaya’s big ticket moves and one that consistently proves how flawed Minaya was as a general manager.  While yes, the Mets needed a big bat, but the Mets were moving into a ballpark that was already being perceived as a hard place to play for a slugger.  Still, the deal would be made, and while injuries plagued Bay’s 2010 season, it was clear that Bay’s offensive numbers were inflated a bit by playing in more offensively friendly ballparks.

And so after three rather underwhelming seasons, and apparently not much of a trade market for his services; the Mets have decided to cut their ties with Jason Bay, making him an unconditional free agent.  Of course in an effort to provide the Mets with roster budget flexibility, the money owned for the remaining two years of Bay’s contract ($21 million) is being deferred over a short period of time.  While it would have been advantageous to see if Bay could have produced in Spring Training, and then early in 2013 and turn him around (even though it was that kind of thinking that both got Bay to and from the Met organization back in 2002), it is probably for the best, and just like the eating of the Castillo and Perez deals, a sign that the Met current regime doesn’t like mistakes to linger more than they have to.

Going forward, well there really isn’t much to discuss as the middle of the road, between 65-70 wins outlook for 2013 seems very much like the outlook for 2012.  While from all accounts Jason Bay is a good guy, but who knows if his lack of production was affecting the clubhouse, sometimes slumps can be contagious.  And it is better to have a middle of the road season with a group of youngsters vying for outfield spots (and hoping Lucas Duda learns to have someone else move furniture for him) rather than a veteran looking to rebound from disastrous seasons.

Posted under Bernie Williams, Brian Giles, Carlos Beltran, Cliff Floyd, Infielder, Jason Bay, Lou Collier, Luis Castillo, Mike Piazza, Moises Alou, New York Mets, Nl All Star Team, Nl Rookie Of The Year, Offensive Production, Sandy Alderson, Severance Package, Steve Phillips, Top Story, True Gems

Santana no-hitter one of those good moments for a Mets fan

There I was, night off from the ballpark, listening and watching my favorite  alternative rock band “Weezer”  in Atlantic City New Jersey in the Bogata Hotel showroom. It was planned, the birthday gift from three weeks ago. What wasn’t in the plan was Johan Santana throwing a no-hitter at Citi Field on the first day of June.

A Friday evening at Citi Field where, I would usually be situated, upstairs in my perch in the comfortable press box, but the first no-no in New York Mets history, 50-years of futility and I was not there to see it.

Yes, frustration. And moments after Mets SNY Television voice Gary Cohen said after being questioned, ‘did he ever think it would happen, his response, ‘No, but now it has’ Weezer would finish their last number.

That number, “Say it Ain’t So.”

But it is true. After 8,020 games, Mets radio voice Howie Rose, and fans of the second baseball team in New York, can now say, the New York Mets have made baseball history. They are no longer one of two teams to not have a pitcher throw the illustrious no-hitter.

It is so, and the San Diego Padres have that lone distinction.

Mike Baxter, the kid from Queens, crashed into the center field wall on the warning track to keep the suspense going. The Carlos Beltran ball that hit the chalk beyond third base appeared to be an extra base hit. The umpire, according to replays may have got it wrong.

To Mets’ fans, and to Santana, the call went their way. The no-hitter is in the record books and well deserved for a pitcher who many said was finished.

It was back in late March. Santana was not supposed to come north with the team at the end of spring training. The comeback from shoulder surgery, which shut Santana down all last year, was slow and cautious. However, it was soon, according to Santana, working according to the plan.

That plan, which was heard since his opening day start in early April, was continue to make adjustments as this Mets team had trouble scoring runs, but staying competitive. Then the last three starts you sensed the plan was ahead of schedule.

Santana was throwing more pitches, going deeper into games. The changeup was effective, so was the slider. The fastball was getting close to his velocity, clocked close to 90, or more.

The manager, Terry Collins was more concerned about the pitch count. Last Saturday, at Citi field, Santana threw 94 pitches, the complete game shutout over the San Diego Padres. Collins let him continue, as he did Friday night with a career high 134 pitches, concerned about the shoulder.

After that sixth inning, Collins asked Santana, “How do you feel?” The ace, who said afterwards, he came to New York “to win a championship for the organization and fans,” told his manager, ‘I feel good, let me continue.’

It was a momentous occasion for a franchise that has been troubled with financial issues .And nothing has seemed to go right since that last game of 2006, when Beltran struck out with runners on base, at Shea Stadium, in game seven of the National League Championship Series.

That was against the same St. Louis Cardinals who go in the record book as victims of the Santana no-hitter.

It was the first and real significant moment at Citi Field for Mets baseball. Santana erased the close calls of Tom Seaver, the last Mets pitcher to take a no-hitter into the ninth inning. The first one, of three close calls, a perfect game broke up by Jimmy Qualls of the Chicago Cubs in 1969.

It will be remembered what Johan Santana did Friday night. The umpire, Adrian Johnson, at third base, may have missed that Beltran call in the sixth inning. But that does not matter now. Johan Santana may have put the New York Mets back on the map with that outing on the mound at Citi Field.

Just hope “Weezer” does not get in the way again for another possible and maybe another no-hitter in New York Mets baseball history, or perhaps another first, a perfect game as they go into game number 8,021.

E-mail Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com

Posted under Alternative Rock Band, Band Weezer, Baseball Team, Bogata Hotel, Carlos Beltran, Gary Cohen, Hotel Showroom, Johan Santana, Mets Fans, Mets Team, Mike Baxter, New York Mets, Radio Voice, Rich Mancuso, San Diego Padres, Sny, Top Story, Warning Track

This post was written by Rich Mancuso on June 3, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Santana Chalks Up First N*-Hitter in Met History

With some help, star pitcher Johan Santana finally ended a half-century-long wait by delivering the New York Mets’ first official no-hitter.

As for the franchise’s first legitimate no-hitter, the wait remains at 8,020 games – 8,094 including postseason contests – and counting.

That is, unless you believe the third base foul line at Citi Field might have been painted wrong, thereby finding at least one feeble way to justify a magical moment that nonetheless will forever live in Met lore – but one that in reality, never should have happened.

It certainly didn’t appear that line was anything but perfectly straight on Friday night, especially not when a screaming liner off the bat of Santana’s ex-Met teammate Carlos Beltran over the third base bag in the top of the sixth inning landed with half of the ball on the white chalk and the other half on the brown dirt just outside of the foul line.

Yet, what clearly should have been at least a hit, and a likely double for Beltran, was ruled a foul ball by third base umpire Adrian Johnson, who with a single blown call, instantly became a huge part of Met history during New York’s 8-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Beltran grounded out to third baseman David Wright on the next pitch to keep the no-hit bid intact and everyone from wondering how much longer it otherwise might have taken to ultimately see an end to the Mets’ no-hit futility for an often pitching-rich franchise in its 51st season.

In fairness, Johnson could hardly be blamed for his incorrect judgment on a ball that from his vantage point behind third base, was very difficult to catch with the naked eyes – even for a well-trained and experienced major league baseball umpire – as the ball rocketed down the foul line.

“I saw the ball hitting outside the line, just foul,” Johnson said to a reporter after the game. However, when asked what he later saw on a slowed-down replay, Johnson simply had, “No comment.”

None was needed, as Johnson knew he had missed the call and thus extended Santana’s chance at becoming an all-time Met folk hero.

Before that could happen, Santana needed a little more assistance of a much more authentic variety one inning after Johnson’s controversial call, when leftfielder Mike Baxter, who grew up as a Met fan in Queens, sacrificed his body to help save what would become the first no-hitter for the team based in the same borough in which Baxter was born and learned the game.

Chasing down a long fly ball hit by catcher Yadier Molina, Baxter made a brilliant running catch on the left field warning track just before crashing into the wall and leaving the game with a left shoulder contusion.

Sounding more like the Met fan of his earlier days rather than the player who just aided the pitcher he was very proud of, Baxter said, “What a night for the Mets. As a Mets fan, as a kid, it’s a huge night for the Mets. We’ve been waiting a long time for a no-hitter. Nobody better than Johan.”

The confluence of events that ended what had been the longest a major league team had ever waited for its initial no-hitter was ironic, given some of the parties involved.

Santana improved to 3-2 with an impressive 2.38 ERA and a sparkling 1.03 WHIP this season by beating pitcher Adam Wainwright, who fell to 4-6 with 4.98 ERA.

Wainwright, along with Molina, are best remembered by Met fans for ending New York’ season – and for doing so against Beltran – the last time New York made the playoffs, six years ago.

Beltran, now in his fifteenth year and with his different fifth team, followed an underachieving first season with New York in 2005 with three good seasons that including two all-star game appearances and the only three gold gloves that the centerfielder has ever won. But, injuries then prevented Beltran from living up to final three years of a very lucrative contract with the Mets.

And, to this day, whether fair or not, Beltran’s seven years in New York are underscored most by a single moment in which he was caught looking on a nasty breaking ball by the then-rookie Wainwright to end Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series, with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Mets trailing by two runs – as New York was seeking its third World Series title, its first since 1986, and its first World Series appearance since 2000.

The deficit in that haunting game to Met fans everywhere was provided by a tie-breaking and game-winning two run home run in the top of the ninth inning by none other than Molina, who if not for Baxter, would have once again caused Met fans to add an unbecoming middle name for the Cardinals’ catcher, by saying as they did half a dozen years ago, “Yadier Freakin’ Molina!”

Before Santana’s no-hitter stole the show, the main story of this weekend’s four-game set between the Cardinals (27-25) and Mets (29-23) was supposed to be Beltran’s New York homecoming after the cash-strapped Mets were forced to trade their former star centerfielder to San Francisco late last season.

This wouldn’t be Beltran’s night though, as it was in the cards for the Mets’ no-hit streak to end against the Cards.

With Santana beating Wainwright, and Beltran and Molina being the ones to nearly but not quite spoil the memorable evening, things came full circle in some ways for the Mets to become just the fourth major league team with one franchise no-hitter (along with the Brewers, Blue Jays, Rays and Rockies), leaving the San Diego Padres to take over the unwanted mantle as the team with the longest no-hitter drought – one that has reached 6,895 games.

Thankfully for Met fans, New York ended its streak 926 short of the all-time longest no-hit drought, which still belongs to the Philadelphia Phillies, who went 8,945 games without a no-hitter between 1906 and 1964, when pitcher Jim Bunning ended that dubious stretch with a perfect game on Father’s Day, against the Mets, during the inaugural season of New York’s previous home, Shea Stadium.

Although Johnson and Baxter bailed him out, the 33-year-old Santana, whose fourth season in New York (after eight largely stellar years in Minnesota) was delayed when he sat out all of last year with major shoulder surgery, struggled a bit with his command early in the game.

He walked five batters overall, three in the first four innings, while issuing consecutive bases on balls to last year’s World Series MVP, third baseman David Freese, and Molina with one out in the top of the second inning.

But, Santana also struck out eight hitters in a mostly masterful and gutty effort against the defending World Series champions who boast a lineup that leads entered the game with a National League-leading .281 average and 270 runs scored (second in the majors in each of those categories to only the American League’s Texas Rangers).

Meanwhile, the Mets, who are known for their usual lack of offensive support for their ace pitcher, did a lot more than helping Santana in the field for a second consecutive time, scoring two runs in the fourth inning, three in the sixth (on right fielder Lucas Duda’s team-leading eighth home run), and three more in the eighth.

Given that type of cushion, Santana was able to focus on finishing off his second straight gem.

His previous start, was a 96-pitch, four-hit masterpiece in a 9-0 home victory over San Diego, six days earlier. That effort combined with the no-hitter made Santana the first Met in two decades (since David Cone in 1992) to throw a pair of complete-game shutouts in succession.  He also became the first pitcher in nearly three decades (since Dave Righetti in 1983) to toss a no-hitter in the nest start following a shutout.

Shortly after making Met history, the well-known website NoNo-Hitters.com – which had been tracking the team’s inability to record a no-hitter on a game-by-game basis –crashed by midnight, presumably from an overload of Met fan traffic, with a message that read, “The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.” The site was back up later into the night for the Met faithful who were still giddy with celebration.

As noted on the site, the Mets had remarkably thrown 35 one-hitters, but never a no-hitter; had six no-hitters thrown against them; and 14 had seen no-hitters pitched by former Mets after they left the team – including Cone, Phillip Humber (whom the Mets traded to Minnesota to acquire Santana, and who threw the majors’ 21st and most recent perfect game for the Chicago White Sox on April 21st), and Met legend Tom Seaver.

Santana was only four years old when Seaver took a no-hitter into the ninth inning in 1975, the last Met to do so until Santana did so with a pitch count of 122, just three shy of his previous career-high.

Twelve pitches later, his 134th and 77th for a strike, Santana got Freese to swing and miss at a great changeup to record his first career no-hitter while ending a no-hit curse that had dogged the Mets for far too long.

Three-and-a-half months after 1986 World Series hero, ex-Met catcher Gary Carter tragically died from cancer, a Met fan wearing a Carter jersey was wrestled to the ground by security to the right of a bunch of Mets who were mobbing Santana carefully (because of his reworked shoulder) on the mound after the final out.

Despite earning one of the richest pitching contracts in the majors, the class act thanked his teammates in the locker room and made the special evening more about the team effort than about himself. “Tonight, we all made history,” he told them. “You guys [made] it happen.”

Wright, the Mets’ other main veteran leader spoke for a largely young team, saying, “That was awesome. Short of Tom Seaver, I can’t think of a better person to pitch the first one. The type of guy he is, the type of person he is, and what he’s been through in the last year – to come back and have that type of performance, that’s incredible and was glad to be a part of that.”

Manager Terry Collins, who has done a great job with getting his club to overachieve and unexpectedly contend in the NL East through nearly the first third of the season, fought back some tears during the postgame press conference while admitting that during the seventh inning, he told Santana that the Venezuelan-born lefty was his hero.

An overwhelmingly proud but worried Collins was also concerned that he had pushed Santana further than he wanted to, but with over 50 years of history at stake, there was no way he was pulling Santana early.

“It’s an honor,” Santana said of his place in history. “I know how much this means to New York and to the New York Mets.” And, while interviewed by SNY-TV’s Kevin Burkhardt on the field, Santana told the 27,069 fans in attendance, “[I’m] happy for you guys. Finally, the first one!” – a statement to which the crowd responded with an appreciative roar.

Just after that exchange, infielder Justin Turner congratulated Santana on television with a face full of whipped cream, to which a smiling Santana said, “At least it wasn’t shaving cream,” as sometimes used by other players for other celebrations.

“I knew the Mets had never had a no-hitter,” Santana added. “I had never had one. This was very special. All the things I’ve been through… this means a lot to New York. This is great.”

Along with the feats of Santana and Humber, the no-hitter was the third in the majors this season, as Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver threw one against Santana’s former Minnesota team on May 2nd.

About an hour after Santana finished off his no-hitter, Florida pitcher Jonathan Crawford did the same in an NCAA tournament game against Bethune-Cookman, when Carlos Delgado – sharing the name the same name of the ex-Met star first baseman (from 2006-2009) – made the last out.

While Santana officially etched his name into the record books and eternally into the hearts of Met fans, Johnson’s missed call will always be linked with the accomplishment in the reverse way that ex-Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was denied his own spot in baseball prominence.

Nearly two years to the day, Galarraga, now with Baltimore, retired the first 27 batters for Detroit, at home, against the Cleveland Indians, on June 2, 2010, before Jason Donald hit what appeared to be a ground out to secure a perfect game for Galarraga, who covered first base on the play. Galarraga caught a toss and beat Donald to the first base bag, but umpire Jim Joyce (who later apologized to Galarraga) mistakenly ruled that Donald was safe with an infield hit, simultaneously costing Galarraga a perfect game and what Santana is credited with thanks in part, to Johnson.

Just as Galarraga’s imperfect game will always be marked with an asterisk, Santana’s no-hitter will always be tainted as a n*-hitter.

Nonetheless, for a franchise that had unsuccessfully come so close so many times over so many years, it felt right that the Mets at long last caught a break, and that Met fans will no longer have to remain conditioned to thinking they’ll never see their team pitch a no-hitter.

Following the famous tag line for every Mets’ win of longtime Mets’ broadcaster Howie Rose (who was born in nearby Brooklyn, who attended high school and college in Queens, and who called the game on radio for WFAN), regardless of how the team’s first no-hitter happened, “Put it in the books!”

Posted under Brown Dirt, Carlos Beltran, Chalks, David Wright, Foul Line, Incorrect Judgment, Johan Santana, Magical Moment, Major League Baseball, Major League Baseball Umpire, Naked Eyes, New York Mets, Sixth Inning, St Louis Cardinals, Top Story, Vantage Point, White Chalk

This post was written by Jon Wagner on June 2, 2012

Tags: , , ,

Audio: Johan’s No-No

The Curse Is Over! Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history against the St. Louis Cardinals with the Mets winning 8-0. The story of the game, of course, was Santana, who threw a career high 134 pitches for his second shutout in a row.

Below is reaction from the clubhouse.

Johan Santana

David Wright

Josh Thole

Mike Baxter

Mike Matheny

Jose Oquendo

Carlos Beltran

Adam Wainwright

Posted under Bob Trainor, Carlos Beltran, Clubhouse, Curse, David Wright, Game, Johan Santana, Jose Oquendo, Josh Thole, Mike Baxter, Mp3 Audio, New York Mets, Pitches, Shutout, St Louis Cardinals, Top Story

This post was written by Bob Trainor on June 2, 2012

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Sportsbeat – 7/9/11

If there were a vote for Manager of the Half-Year, I would be hard-pressed to decide between  the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle and the Mets’ Terry Collins. After 19 straight years of losing seasons, the Pirates have spent most of 2011 above the .500 mark and are in contention in the NL Central. If someone had told you that the Mets would be a legitimate wild card team at the All-Star break without having the services of David Wright and Ike Davis for most of the season as well as not having ace starter Johan Santana at all, you would wonder what they are secretly smoking.

It’s not just that the Mets are winning that has put Terry Collins in a good light. He came to New York with a reputation for having a short fuse and being combative. At age 62 Collins has changed from being a Leo Durocher wannabe to becoming Jim Leyland “lite” as one longtime sports author who requested anonymity told me.

Now before we get too excited about the Mets, we can’t ignore their tendency to fall apart like a cheap suit after the All-Star break. If that happens, expect Mets GM Sandy Alderson to dispatch Carlos Beltran, Mike Pelfrey, and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez to other cities. Even if the Mets are miraculously in the thick of things, Alderson will probably have to move K-Rod to avoid the Mets being on the hook for his $17.5 million salary next year. The conventional wisdom is that for the post-Madoff Mets to have any shot at re-signing Jose Reyes they are going to need to free up payroll in the worst kind of way. Getting rid of their still very good closer will accomplish that.

Last January former Yankees great and then incoming Dodgers manager Don Mattingly hosted a fund-raiser for his charity at Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant on Central Park South. I asked Don if he worried that the chaos surrounding team owner Frank McCourt’s divorce would have an adverse effect on his team’s fortunes. “No, players are professionals. They just care about what goes on the field,” he told me that night. I have a feeling that he would answer my question differently today.

Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier had a great reaction when he got a stack of legal documents in the mail about his employer’s bankruptcy filing. “Now you know how I’ll be spending the All-Star break. It’s great to be Dodger!” he exclaimed according to the Sports Business Journal.

It was a weird atmosphere at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, July 7 with Derek Jeter three hits away from the 3,000-hit career milestone. It seemed that no one cared that the Tampa Bay Rays, who came into Yankee Stadium that night a mere four games behind the Yanks in the AL East, were beating them 5-1; all they cared about was Jeter getting three hits that night.

Derek is also notorious about guarding his privacy and that’s why it was surprising that he has allowed HBO Sports to do one of those “all access” documentaries about his road to 3,000.

Speaking of HBO Sports, make sure to catch their latest documentary, The Curious Case of Curt Flood. The subject here was a terrific centerfielder who played on three pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals teams in the 1960s. In 1969, just as the Miracle Mets were in the midst of beating the Orioles in the World Series, the Cards traded Flood to the Phillies. Even though he had played 11 years in the big leagues, Flood no say in choosing his employer thanks to baseball’s “reserve clause” that bounded a player to a team unless that club wanted to get rid of him. The term “Free agency” was as unheard of as the Internet back then.

Flood refused to report to the Phillies. He had nothing against them or the city of Philadelphia. It was a matter of principle. He wanted a say as to where he would work and he likened his situation to slavery. The simpleminded sports media at the time (some things never change!) made fun of his slavery analogy because he was earning $90,000 per year at the time which was quite a payday for the time. Nonetheless, Flood’s point was valid. Even though few players spoke up for him at the time, added to the fact that the Supreme Court ruled against him, Curt Flood is the man most responsible for the free agency rights baseball players enjoy today.

ESPN doesn’t get mad, it gets even. Last month NBC, now owned by cost-conscious Comcast, shocked the world by spending a fortune in retaining the rights to show the next two summer and winter Olympics. ESPN executives thought that they had the Games in their bag.

Two weeks ago, however, they snagged the rights to broadcast a long-held NBC Sports jewel, Wimbledon. That is probably bad news for NBC’s chief tennis voice, former Mets broadcaster Ted Robinson who grew up in Rockville Centre.

James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales’s new book, These Guys Have All the Fun (Little, Brown), gives readers an inside look at the going-on in Bristol, CT with an over 700-page oral history on ESPN. While it is a thorough and engaging read, there is surprisingly little that is controversial here. Everyone knows that “Sportscenter” anchor Keith Olbermann was not the most popular guy on campus. There is also little written about why longtime baseball analyst Harold Reynolds (now working for the MLB Network) was dropped by the network (Was he engaged in an appropriate act with a staffer as was rumored at the time?) or the real reasons why pompous Peter Gammons, another longtime ESPN baseball personality moved to the MLB Network. I would like to have known if Gammons was fired or whether was it his decision.

Congratulations to the voice of CBS Sports, Jim Nantz, on his induction into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton next month. Jim is as approachable a big name sportscaster as you’ll ever meet and has been tireless is his ability to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Disease research.

One of the original faces of SNY, Steve Overmyer, who inexplicably dropped by them along with such fine talent as Kenny Choi and Cedarhurst’s own Matt Yallof, has resurfaced doing fill-in work at WCBS-TV. Overmyer has a clever wit and has been sorely missed.

At age 24, Graham Bensinger could be the next Roy Firestone. He has quickly become one of sports best interviewers. You can see him on Yahoo Sports and hear him on Sirius XM.

Call me an old fogy in this iPod age, but there is nothing like listening to a ballgame on the AM dial on a Radio Shack pocket radio.

On the topic of radios, Eton Corporation in conjunction with the American Red Cross is marketing a self-powered AM-FM Radio that can also recharge your cell phone. Eton has also come out with a Road Torq self-powered flashlight that is particularly handy at night if you have to change a tire or flag down assistance. It is a crummy feeling to find a flashlight whose batteries are dead when you need it the most.

A vast majority of us do our late night sports viewing from the comfort of our beds. The quality of the mattress is obviously important to both sleep and for your back when watching your TV from your bed. Just as crucial in those areas are the quality of bed sheets and pillowcases. Luxor Linens uses highest thread count Egyptian cotton for its bed sheets, pillow cases and bath towels. The company also makes bathrobes that make you fell like Hef at the Playboy Mansion.

Posted under Carlos Beltran, Cheap Suit, Clint Hurdle, Conventional Wisdom, David Wright, Frank Mccourt, Johan Santana, Jose Reyes, Leo Durocher, Lloyd Carroll, Manager Don, Mets Gm, Mickey Mantle, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Nl Central, Rod Rodriguez, Sandy Alderson, Short Fuse, Top Story

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on July 9, 2011

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The Song Remains the Same in Queens

The faces have changed but the story is still the same.

It’s no longer the Omar and Jerry Show, but the Sandy and Terry Hour, yet it plays out with the same results and the jokes are falling just as flat.

Not to mention the punch line that’s still shines right on the fans.

Yes, hope and change has turned into more of the same at Citi Field with the continual news of Ike Davis’s incredibly hurting ankle. After being examined today, it’s just not getting better, and now he may have to miss the season if the next three weeks show no improvement.

“We’re hopeful that over the next three weeks he will progress to running,” general manager Sandy Alderson said. “If that is not successful, then there may be some consideration about doing some surgery on the ankle. Right now I don’t see him coming back anytime soon. … Basically over the next three weeks he’ll progress to hopefully running. And if he can’t tolerate the running, then we go to Plan B.”

No one wants to see Plan B, as it means the Mets will lose their best power threat in the lineup until 2012, ultimately crippling any hope of a Met Wild Card this year.

All of this comes on the heels of Jose Reyes not wanted to negotiate a new contract until the season is over, almost assuredly allowing him to test the free agent market.

It’s just another day at the ballpark for these New York Mets who now should expect the worst and be surprised when something better happens. It makes you wonder if Fred Wilpon made some sort of Faustian deal with the devil for the 1986 World Series and now the franchise if paying the price.

Think about it. Almost exactly 20 years after the ball went through Buckner’s legs, Carlos Beltran looked at strike three and it went all downhill from there.

Two collapses, botched firings, mishandled injuries, K-Rod punching out an old man and let’s not forget a man named Bernie Madoff. It’s just been a litany of bad news. Heck, Billy Joel can write an updated version of “We Didn’t Start The Fire” with everything that happened in Queens.

Just when it seemed like the Mets turned the corner with the hiring of Alderson and Terry Collins, it just continues on and on. It doesn’t matter if Alderson is uber-capable, on days like today, he sounds like Omar Minaya, albeit in a fluent, lower key tone and Collins can be as fiery as Earl Weaver. With his best players on the shelf, he’s going to have as much success as Jerry Manuel.

That’s why it’s hard to buy into these Mets. No matter how much good will they inject, the other shoe is there ready to drop…

…And drop and drop.

Tomorrow, David Wright’s injured back is scheduled to be checked. Is there anyone out there expecting it to be healed? With the way things are going, you may expect another break to mysteriously show up.

And Alderson will be there delivering the news, with the same disappointment in his voice Minaya had before him.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Posted under Billy Joel, Carlos Beltran, Collapses, Deal With The Devil, Faustian Deal, Fred Wilpon, Free Agent Market, Heck, Joe Mcdonald, Jose Reyes, Litany, New York Mets, Plan B, Sandy Alderson, Top Story, Wild Card, World Series

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 22, 2011

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Mets Feeling Izzy after 6-3 loss to Braves

New York- There was no comeback in the cards for the New York Mets (26-31) on this night as they dropped a 6-3 heartbreaker to the Atlanta Braves (32-26) on Thursday night baseball at Citi Field. New York lost for the fifth time overall, and for the fourth time on their current 10-game home stand, when leading after seven innings.

New York has gone from the slogan “You’ve got to believe” to “You never know what is going to happen.” As bad news broke for many Mets fans after the game as third baseman David Wright is expected to be out three more weeks due to the fracture in his spine.

General Manager Sandy Alderson sat in front of the Metropolitan Area reporters and broke the news, “David didn’t have any X-Rays or any additional test, but due to the nature of the original picture that we took the doctors recommended that he remain inactive from baseball action for another three weeks.” He continued by saying, “

Wright had this to say of his trip to the doctors today, “The doctors obviously know what they are doing. There is only so much you can do when a specialist says that you need to do something. I was hopeful that the healing process would have started sooner, but it was wishful thinking on my part.” He continued to say, “In the end they are looking out for my best interest, it is better that I take these next three weeks off and completely heal versus going out there and hurting myself again.”

Atlanta struck for the first run of the game in the bottom of the second inning as Freddie Freeman started the frame by lacing a single to center field. Braves right fielder Joe Mather plated the first run by driving a single past Jose Reyes for the 1-0 lead.

New York answered back in the bottom of the fourth inning as Reyes would energize the team by ripping a triple (9) to center field. Carlos Beltran brought the shortstop home on a single to right field. Jason Bay worked out a walk before Daniel Murphy gave New York a 2-1 lead on a single to left field. Angel Pagan drove home the third run of a game with a single to center for the 3-1 lead.

Atlanta remained quiet with their bats until the top of the eighth inning when Met killer Chipper Jones struck for his fifth home run of the season as he lifted one to left field in the top of the eighth inning. The third baseman took a 2-2 fastball and ripped it over the left field wall to make the New York lead 3-2

Starting pitcher Jonathon Niese was able to record his seventh strike out of the game by getting rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman to swing at a fastball in the top of the eighth inning for the second out of the game. It was after that out that Manager Terry Collins made a call to the bullpen, before exiting Niese got a nice ovation from the 28, 301 in attendance.

Sadly for the Mets fans a hard hit ball by the Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez could not be fielded by Jose Reyes, which allowed the Braves to tie the game up at 3-3. Isringhausen was finally able to record the final out by getting the Atlanta right fielder Joe Mather to swing at a cutter to end the inning.

On the miscue in the infield the shortstop had this to say, “I tried to do the best that I could to make that play. I did everything I could and will do everything in my power to make that play the next time out.”

Collins made another move calling in closer Francisco Rodriguez to try to stop the bleeding. The move was unsuccessful as Atlanta turned the tables on the Mets on this night. Replacement outfielder Eric Hinske lifted a home run (6) over the right field wall to give the Braves the 4-3 lead, to open the dam of offense for the Braves.

Isringhausen and Rodriguez combined to allow four runs, three of them being earned runs tonight. Over the last 12 games Mets relievers have an ERA of 10.57

Rodriguez had this to say on his effort tonight, “I need to go out there and be more aggressive; I need to make these pitches count. I am not happy with my effort tonight at all, I didn’t get it done there are no excuses with my performance tonight.”

Left fielder Martin Prado doubled (17) to center field to set up a runner in scoring position for the ever-so-dangerous Chipper Jones. The Braves third baseman struck out swinging, to leave the stage set for catcher Brian McCann. In a surprising move the Mets decided to intentionally walk McCann to get to Freeman.

After the game the Mets skipper Terry Collins had this to say on the move, “According to the scouting reports McCann is the hottest guy on the team so you have got to get someone else to beat you aside from their hot hitters.”

Freeman made the Mets pay for that move by lacing a double (14) to left center field, giving the Braves the eventual 6-3 victory.

Niese had this to say of the tough loss, “This is a really tough loss for our team tonight; this is why baseball is a beautiful game though. It is a collective effort out there on the field every night and obviously we weren’t able to get it done.”

Atlanta had some bad news injury wise on their end as center fielder Jordan Schafer bunted a ball right into his upper lip and nose area; he was taken to a hospital for x-rays and was replaced by Hinske who had the momentum-changing homer in the top of the ninth inning.

These two teams will go at it again for Game Two on Saturday, as it is righty-versus-righty as Dillon Gee (5-0, 3.83, ERA) takes on Jair Jurrjens (7-1, 1.51 ERA). First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m.

Posted under Atlanta Braves, Baseball Action, Carlos Beltran, Daniel Murphy, David Wright, Fifth Time, Healing Process, Heartbreaker, Izzy, Jason Bay, Jose Reyes, Mather, Mets Fans, New York Mets, Night Baseball, Sandy Alderson, Top Story

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 4, 2011

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Mets Build Momentum with 9-8 victory over Pirates

New York – The New York Mets (26-30) needed a day like today, a game like today can either make or break a season. They needed to teach themselves how to believe in their talents and abilities today, especially with a victory over a team that is as tenacious as the Pittsburgh Pirates (26-29).

New York trailed the Pirates 7-0 after 2 ½ innings of play, and defeated Pittsburgh by the score of 9-8 in Thursday afternoon baseball at Citi Field. This comeback ties the second biggest in franchise history, while also being the biggest comeback victory in the majors this season.

It may also be just what this struggling franchise needs to get back on track and get the many Mets faithful to believe again. Many players echoed that sentiment in the locker room after the game.

“It felt great to get the win today,” said Angel Pagan, who has now hit in all seven games since returning from the 15-day disabled list. The outfielder also said, “We haven’t been playing the way that we know that we are able too. We just kept battling back today and never gave up, and it is a great feeling for us.”

A big part of the comeback effort by the Mets today was one Terry Collins who was fired up after the squad dropping a 9-3 loss to the Pirates yesterday. So far the players enjoy the passion and energy that Collins brings to the squad.

“Terry’s speech after the game last night gave us the wakeup call that we needed,” Pagan said. “He basically said that we can play better than this.” He continued by saying, “I love having a manager like him, the fact that he gets fired up and cares for us, Terry is really doing a great job as our manager.”

Another key to the game was Carlos Beltran, who drove in four runs in today‘s game. Three of those runs were recorded on a huge blast to left field. That homer along with some timely hitting by the Mets propelled them to the huge comeback.

“This was a huge win for us today,” Beltran said in the locker room, “After the homer it was a boost to the team, but we needed to score more in order to win this one.” He continued by saying. “Tejada has a good at bat to drive in a run, and overall it was a true team effort.”

Beltran also had this to say of the meeting that Collins had with the squad yesterday, “The meeting that Terry had yesterday was great, I liked it a lot because it was different then the meetings we had in the past.” He continued, “He has passion and energy and he makes it clear the way he feels about the team and his players, and there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes you need someone to wake everyone up, and it was a good thing because we woke up and won this one today.”

Collins enjoyed the home run by his outfielder saying, “That was a huge swing for us today that has been the biggest thing so far for us was that we weren’t able to get the big swing and today we did.” He continued by saying, “The big guys really stepped up for us today.”

“He believes in us and we need to believe in ourselves,” Beltran said of his manager and his team, “Right now we are missing guys, but we have plenty of guys that can contribute as well.” He would continue by saying, “It is time for us to start working together as a team and playing hard.”

Utility-player extraordinaire Ruben Tejada continues to shine in his time with the Mets. The starting second baseman impressed with both his glove and his hitting as he recorded three RBI in the game.

“I have been feeling good playing with the team,” Tejada said. “I’ve been taking a lot of pitches and really trying to do what I can to help the team win.”

Tejada had a huge moment in the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, lifting a sacrifice fly out to center field, and driving in the run that gave the Mets the 8-7 lead. He also impressed with a nifty play in the sixth inning getting a ground ball by Josh Harrison and throwing him out at first base.

“It feels great to have been a part of his comeback effort today,” Tejada said. “This type of comeback is what we needed to get back to playing our game.”

Manager Terry Collins has been impressed with the youngster saying, “He had a good at bat’s for us this week, and he has been putting the bat on the ball and making contact.” He continued by saying, “He laid off some tough pitches today. Overall he has a huge upside and will be a very good player for our team.”

On this day the Mets bullpen came through and bailed out starter Mike Pelfrey, who didn’t have his good stuff on the mound today. The righty gave up seven runs and 10 hits to a very feisty Pirates team. Collins called in four relief pitchers, to help save the day and the victory for the Mets.

The lone run that the bullpen gave up was in the top of the ninth inning as outfielder Xavier Paul capped a career high four hit day with a triple (2) to right field off closer Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez got a fly ball out and a strike out, before giving up a hit to second baseman Paul Walker, which cut the Met lead to 9-8 at the time.

Rodriguez would earn his 16th save of the season by getting power hitter Lyle Overbay to lift a ball into foul territory, in which Justin Turner was able to grab for the final out of the game as the Mets earned the 9-8 victory. Not only did they earn the victory, but also build much needed momentum for the rest of the season.

Returning from the bereavement list today was shortstop Jose Reyes, who extended his seven game hitting streak when laced a single to center field in the bottom of the third inning.

“To be able to make a comeback like this today was a huge thing for our team,” Reyes said. “We just had to come back little by little, and being able to do that was a huge thing for us going forward.”

New York will now look to build on this momentum. It will not be easy though as they now enter into a three game series against their arch-rival the Atlanta Braves starting on Friday. Jonathon Niese (4-5, 3.91 ERA) takes on Derek Lowe (3-4, 4.03 ERA) in Game One of the series, which is slated to start at 7:10 p.m.

“We just need to continue to take it one game at a time,” Reyes said to NYSportsDay.com about what the team does to take the next step. “We need to continue to keep playing our game, Atlanta is a good team, and so we just will take it one step at a time and take it from there.”

Beltran had this to say to www.nysportsday.com on the steps needed to build on this positive momentum, “We need to keep playing hard and I think today’s game should be the game where we look back and say if we can do it for this game, than we can do it for any game. We just got to never give up and keep fighting as a team.”

Remember this day Mets fans, remember this time and moment. Today was just what the Mets needed to hopefully start believing in themselves again.

Posted under Baseball, Carlos Beltran, Comeback Effort, Comeback Victory, Day Like Today, Homer, Locker Room, Momentum, New York Mets, Outfielder, Pagan, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seven Games, Talents, Top Story, Wakeup Call

This post was written by Stacy Rae Podelski on June 3, 2011

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