Like many of my best-intentioned plans, my countdown to Spring Training quickly fizzled. Not only is Amazin’ Avenue doing it better (and with pictures!), it turns out that I couldn’t even get the actual number of days right! That was particularly humbling. It turns out that pitchers and catchers are due to report two whole days earlier than I thought. So, there goes that idea.
That being said, I’d written up a couple of entries in advance, so I’m going to trot them out over the next few days. Here is what would have been my day twenty entry: Kurt Abbott.
Drafted by the Oakland A’s on my twelfth birthday, the former 15th round pick joined the Mets as a free agent on January 26, 2000. Abbott would appear in 79 games for the Mets that year, hitting .217/.283/.389 in 173 plate appearances. His -0.5 rWAR (B-R.com) tied him with Matt Franco and Rickey Henderson for worst on the team, non-Rey Ordonez division (to be fair, Ordonez was lost for the season after only 29 games). So, he’s got that going for him.
It was in that year’s World Series that I (drunkenly) gave him the nickname of the All-Powerful Kurt Abbott. I was watching game one at my Yankee-fan friend’s house, surrounded by his Yankee-fan family and Yankee-fan friends, the lone Mets fan in the room. The Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead on a David Justice double in the bottom of the sixth, but the Mets rallied to take a 3-2 lead in the seventh (shockingly, Bubba Trammell was prominently involved). The Yankees sent Mariano Rivera to the mound in the top of the ninth to hold the fort. He promptly retired Jay Payton, but plunked Todd Pratt.
With a man on first, one out, and Mike Bordick due to hit, Bobby Valentine tapped Kurt Abbott to pinch hit. I was not overwhelmed by optimism. In an effort to get ahead of (what I thought) was an inevitable double-play grounder, I said something like “the All-Powerful Kurt Abbott will save the day”. Abbott promptly lined a double to right field to advance Pratt to third. Neither Timo Perez nor Edgardo Alfonzo could capitalize on the opportunity and the Mets failed to score. The Yankees went on to win the game (and ultimately the World Series), but a nickname was born.
Fun Fact: Kurt Abbott is a cop in Florida. That’s him on the left, giving the hand to a perp he had just apprehended.
Photo courtesy of Alex Boerner, TC Palm