Mets Honoring Chipper is a Joke

Ok, we are always for saluting the game’s greats. It’s what makes baseball what it is, but giving Chipper Jones a gift at a pre-game ceremony?

Oh come on.

If the Wilpons haven’t done enough to destroy the fanbase, this takes the cake. Do you really have to honor your personal tormentor for the last 15 years, the man who insulted the fans as a youth and then decided to use your pitching staff as personal batting practice?

Of course not. It makes no sense. The fans did not come out in droves last night to salute Chipper. And thankfully the Mets will get the message.

Because what’s next? Derek Jeter Day next year? Or how about Mariano Rivera Night?

The Jets never honored Dan Marino and the Giants never had a day for Troy Aikman.

I’m pretty sure you will never see a Mark Messier night at Nassau Coliseum or Reggie Miller getting an on the court tribute from the Knicks.

This is something the Onion would make up or go into an April Fools Issue.

But this really happened last night and there’s absolutely no reason for it.

Even Chipper agrees.

“I would respect the body of work,” Jones said, “but I would hate his guts.”

Maybe the Mets could add insult to injury by retiring No. 10 or even have John Rocker throw out the first ball.

It would be fitting the way this organization treated the fans over the years.

For his part Jones took it in all good fun and very gracious. And he did name his child Shea because of all the success he had at the Mets former ballpark.

And the Mets presented him with a 3-D painting of the old girl as a parting gift.

But let this be a one shot deal. There’s no need to have days for opposing players. Let Jeter have his day in the Bronx and Chase Utley be honored by the Phillies.

Maybe it would be a better idea the Mets honor some of their oversights over the years, like Jerry Koosman or retire No. 17 or No. 31 before giving gifts to other team’s payroll.

Posted under Batting Practice, Dan Marino, Derek Jeter, Droves, Giving Gifts, Insult To Injury, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, Mariano Rivera, Nassau Coliseum, New York Mets, Parting Gift, Reggie Miller, Top Story, Tormentor

This post was written by Joe McDonald on September 8, 2012

Tags: , ,

Mets Honoring Chipper is a Joke

Ok, we are always for saluting the game’s greats. It’s what makes baseball what it is, but giving Chipper Jones a gift at a pre-game ceremony?

Oh come on.

If the Wilpons haven’t done enough to destroy the fanbase, this takes the cake. Do you really have to honor your personal tormentor for the last 15 years, the man who insulted the fans as a youth and then decided to use your pitching staff as personal batting practice?

Of course not. It makes no sense. The fans did not come out in droves last night to salute Chipper. And thankfully the Mets will get the message.

Because what’s next? Derek Jeter Day next year? Or how about Mariano Rivera Night?

The Jets never honored Dan Marino and the Giants never had a day for Troy Aikman.

I’m pretty sure you will never see a Mark Messier night at Nassau Coliseum or Reggie Miller getting an on the court tribute from the Knicks.

This is something the Onion would make up or go into an April Fools Issue.

But this really happened last night and there’s absolutely no reason for it.

Even Chipper agrees.

“I would respect the body of work,” Jones said, “but I would hate his guts.”

Maybe the Mets could add insult to injury by retiring No. 10 or even have John Rocker throw out the first ball.

It would be fitting the way this organization treated the fans over the years.

For his part Jones took it in all good fun and very gracious. And he did name his child Shea because of all the success he had at the Mets former ballpark.

And the Mets presented him with a 3-D painting of the old girl as a parting gift.

But let this be a one shot deal. There’s no need to have days for opposing players. Let Jeter have his day in the Bronx and Chase Utley be honored by the Phillies.

Maybe it would be a better idea the Mets honor some of their oversights over the years, like Jerry Koosman or retire No. 17 or No. 31 before giving gifts to other team’s payroll.

Posted under April Fools, Batting Practice, Dan Marino, Derek Jeter, Droves, Giving Gifts, Insult To Injury, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, John Rocker, Mariano Rivera, Mark Messier, Mark Messier Night, Nassau Coliseum, New York Mets, Parting Gift, Reggie Miller, Top Story, Tormentor, Troy Aikman

This post was written by Joe McDonald on September 8, 2012

Tags: , ,

Pigs Finally Fly: The Mets Get Their First No-Hitter

A popular saying to describe something very unlikely to occur is “that will happen when pigs fly.” Until last Friday night the Mets had never had one of their pitchers, a group that included such luminaries as Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, and Frank Viola,  toss one of baseball’s very special accomplishments, a no-hitter. Pigs must have been flying somewhere near Flushing on June 1 because ace pitcher Johan Santana finally ended the hex by tossing a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals, the best-hitting team in the National League no less, by a score of 8-0 at Citi Field.

While a lot was understandably made of this first in Mets history what went unsaid was that there hadn’t been a major league no-hitter thrown in Queens since the late Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, Bob Moose, threw one against the Miracle Mets on September 20, 1969 at Shea Stadium. Undaunted, the Mets went on to win the World Series less than a month later.

Mets manager Terry Collins mixed euphoria with concern at his press conference following Santana’s accomplishment. At his pre-game meeting with reporters Collins said that he wanted to limit Johan’s pitch count to around 110.

Santana missed all of the 2011 season and a great deal of the 2010 campaign recovering from shoulder surgery so the last thing that Terry Collins wanted was to have a situation where he tax his star pitcher’s harm past the 110 boundary. Collins is also well aware that Santana earns $22 million per year and the last thing that the financially troubled Mets needed was for him to lose more time out of uniform. It would have been the textbook definition of a Pyrrhic victory for Collins to have Santana pitch a no-hitter and then have him wind up on the disabled list.

The Mets manager had taken a lot of heat two weeks ago for removing David Wright from a game with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field because he did not want to risk having his team’s star player injured after a beanball war had broken out. Mets reliever DJ Carrasco plunked Brewers slugger Ryan Braun so Collins wisely figured that the Brewers relief corps would retaliate against Wright in the bottom of the inning.

Wright was livid about Collins’ mollycoddling of him and it was clear that Terry understood David’s viewpoint. There was no way that Collins was going to take Johan Santana out of a game where he could make history unless Johan himself wanted to be removed. From his post-game demeanor it wouldn’t have been surprising if Terry Collins was secretly rooting for a Cardinals player to get a hit after Santana went past the 100-pitch mark in the game so that he wouldn’t be faced with a wrenching decision. Santana wound up throwing a very taxing 134 pitches.

The Mets manager could have been off the hook had umpire Adrian Johnson made the right call when former Mets star Carlos Beltran hit shot over the third base bag in the sixth inning that was ruled a foul ball. A replay showed that the ball did in fact hit the line and Beltran should have had a double.

The Mets may have earned some karma from the baseball gods with respect to Carlos Beltran when they saluted him with a video montage of highlights from his seven-year tenure with the Amazin’s prior to the game. The crowd roared its approval and Beltran responded in kind with a tip of his hat.

Mets outfielder and Whitestone native Mike Baxter made a sensational catch on Yadier Molina’s screeching line drive to rob him of a double in the seventh inning. Baxter smashed into the wall and was lying on the ground for some time afterwards. He was removed from the game but X-rays taken afterwards were negative. He was at his locker following the game and told the media that he had merely suffered a bad bruise.

Rookie Kirk Nieuwenhuis took over for Baxter in left field and the following inning he saved the no-hitter when he raced in for a bloop fly ball hit by Cards’ second baseman Tyler Greene. Mets fans’ hearts were racing when they saw shortstop Omar Quintanilla, who was subbing for the injured Ruben Tejada, go full throttle in the other direction for Greene’s pop-up. Omar said afterwards that he heard Kirk call him off at the very last second. With so much on the line, as well as a very loud crowd, it was completely understandable how communication could have been garbled between them. In past years, Santana would have lost the no-hitter on that play and one or both of the players would have been injured in a collision. Not on this night however.

The Mets bullpen earned a rare night off but they were clearly on standby. “We tried to stay inconspicuous but we had someone ready from the sixth inning on,” revealed Mets reliever Bobby Parnell in the clubhouse following the game.

Santana clearly benefitted from the return of catcher Josh Thole who had just come off the disabled list a few hours earlier after enduring a concussion three weeks earlier. Thole certainly called a good game for Johan as the Mets pitcher did not shake off any of his signs.

As if there wasn’t enough drama, rain was working its way up the I-95 corridor Friday night. The Washington Nationals had already canceled their game while the Phillies were in a lengthy rain delay in Philadelphia. Former Mets general manager Jim Duquette who was working in the radio booth subbing for Josh Lewin said that he and Howie Rose were sharing weather forecasts with the fans as the game went on. “Everyone knew that if play was stopped even for a few minutes, Johan would be removed from the game,” he said. He went on to add that he and Howie made a conscious decision to start talking about the possibility of a no-hitter in the sixth inning.

As the late Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy used to say, “The weatherman certainly cooperated with the Mets!” After all of the Mets’ bad fortunes over the last few years their fans finally had a great memory from Citi Field.

Posted under Ace Pitcher, David Wright, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Johan Santana, Lloyd Carroll, Luminaries, Milwaukee Brewers, Miracle Mets, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Pyrrhic Victory, Shea Stadium, St Louis Cardinals, Star Player, Textbook Definition, Tom Seaver, Top Story

Johan’s Masterpiece Is For All Of Met Nation

Somewhere in the great sports bar in the sky, Tug McGraw is screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe!” Gary Carter is acting like a maniac. Gil Hodges is nodding silently in approval.

And Casey Stengel is rubbing his leathery face, winking his eye and uttering, “Amazin’!”

When all is said and done, this was just a regular season game. One that put the Mets six games over the .500 mark, helping them to continue on with their surprising 2012.

Yet, this game meant more than that. This was the Mets last ghost exorcized. With 8,019 games played and no no-nos, you had to wonder if this was ever going to happen. The no-hitter is one of the hardest accomplishments in baseball, but with the slew of great pitchers that have come through the Met organization, just by sheer luck, someone would have thrown one by now.

On game 8,020 it happened. Johan Santana’s no-hitter gave the Flushing Faithful a moment in Mets history that will last a lifetime. This was the Miracle Mets, Game 6, and the Grand Slam Single. This was a moment you shared with your children or called your father as it was happening.

And just like those other great events in Mets history, you will remember where you were years from now and will share it with your children and grandchildren when other Mets throw their no-hitters.

It’s the type of event that binds Met fans together. Disillusioned over the past few seasons, this one game will probably bring back the fans, hoping that another glimpse of history will happen at Citi Field.

And if it wasn’t Tom Seaver or Doc Gooden or Jerry Koosman, it is perfect that Santana is the one to break the curse.

“Short of Tom Seaver, I can’t think of a better person to pitch the first one,” said third baseman David Wright. “The type of guy he is, the type of person he is, and what he’s been through last year – to come back and have that type of performance, that’s incredible and was glad to be a part of that. … I am thrilled I could be a part of it. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.

“It’s just an amazing story. I can let you know firsthand. I was there with him in Florida throughout some of his rehab last year. The work he put in, the time he put in to get himself back to this point. I thought his last start was special, but this start was just…I guess once every 51 years.”

When the Mets acquired Santana in 2008, he was supposed to lead the team back to the playoffs. It hasn’t happened yet. His shoulder surgery was supposed to end his career or at least make him a shell of his former self.

Instead, we are seeing the Johan of old – competing every game and fighting against every batter.

Of course like any no-hitter he had help. A fortunate foul ball at third base in the sixth and then a miracle-like catch by Mike Baxter, who grew up in the shadow of Shea Stadium,  in the seventh.

After that, you knew that it could happen. However, there were 8,019 reasons to believe the other shoe was going to drop.  But he continued to mow the Cardinals down, one by one until David Freese – last year’s World Series hero – became the answer to a Met trivia question by fishing for the signature changeup for strike three.

All of Met Nation rose to its feet in almost utter disbelief. Tears were coming out Terry Collins eyes, standing at the dugout just enjoying the moment, as the Mets celebrated on the field.

And the same cheers came throughout New York. From houses to sports bars a certain relief was felt. You could hear it in the voices of the announcers – Gary Cohen and Howie Rose – Met fans from their youth and the voices of this generation.  And the 27,69 who actually were at the game, went into a frenzy.

Somewhere in the great sports bar in the sky, Bob Murphy is giving his happy recap, while Mrs. Payson was  in her usual seat watching the Mets. Lindsey Nelson was in his sports coat getting reaction from Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon.

It was a night for all Met fans to celebrate, because on game 8,020 the curse was broken.

Amazin’!

Posted under Amazin, Better Person, David Wright, Doc Gooden, Game One, Gil Hodges, Great Sports, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, Johan Santana, Leathery Face, New York Mets, Sheer Luck, Six Games, Tom Seaver, Top Story, Tug Mcgraw

This post was written by Joe McDonald on June 2, 2012

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McDonald: The Real Johan Santana is Back

Pitchers tend enjoy watching each other hit, so when Johan Santana took Matt Maloney deep last night for his first home run in – well – ever, the rest of the staff had to chime in.

“You tell him, he will never hit another one again,” laughed closer Frankie Rodriguez. “He grabbed a bat and was walking around the dugout saying he was going to hit one out.”

Of course with Santana leading the staff in home runs, other pitchers have to get their shot.

“As soon as he hit it, [Mike Pelfrey] ran in to the cage and started taking some extra batting practice,” deadpanned R.A. Dickey with the righthander in earshot and added, “So I have to hit one now, that’s how it works.”

The bottom line is that Santana finally found the formula to get himself back in the win column. As Jerry Koosman once said, “Shut them out and hit one out. Then you got yourself a win.”

And it seems like Santana needed the third home run to win this one, as the Mets still struggled to score runs. Only a fortunate sixth inning gave the ace some cushion in route to his sixth win of the year.

But it’s been like that for Santana all season. With very few runs behind him, he had no room for error. Unfortunately it meant he went through his rough patch in June, while the Mets were piling up the wins. But as the page turned to July it seemed to be Santana time.

He is 61-19 with a 2.73 ERA during the second half of the season. In 2008, he went 9-0 down the stretch and now it looks like he’s doing it again. Santana made a change in his arm angle, which is allowing his fastball a more explosive look, going back to the low-90s. Couple that with a change in his motion, which stopped tipping his pitches and you can see why he’s the Johan Santana of old.

“I am throwing my fastball much better,” Santana said. “And that makes my other pitches better.”

Especially his changeup, which is deadly.

“You saw hitters taking that changeup before,” said manager Jerry Manuel, “where tonight you saw it’s like he pulls the bat through the strike zone with that changeup.”

That’s why Manuel quickly retreated to the dugout with one out in the ninth and runners on first and second after Jason Bay’s error. The look on his ace’s face told the story.

“I’ll finish it,” he said.

And two pitches later he did ending an almost perfect night by the Mets ace.

Rodriguez may be right in that Santana may never hit another home run, but who cares? The most important thing is that the real Johan Santana is back.

Posted under Ace, Arm Angle, Batting Practice, Bottom Line, Changeup, Dugout, Earshot, Era, Fastball, Jerry Koosman, Joe Mcdonald, Johan Santana, Matt Maloney, Mcdonald, Mets, Mike Pelfrey, New York Mets, Pitchers, Rough Patch, Second Half, Sixth Inning, Tipping His Pitches, Top Story

This post was written by Joe McDonald on July 7, 2010