Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

Archive for the ‘On This Date’ Category

Screw Signability

Posted by JD on June 7, 2010

As you undoubtedly know by now, the Mets selected Matt Harvey with the seventh overall pick in the amateur draft. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a draft expert, but even though I know nothing about Harvey as a prospect I’m happy with the selection. Oddly enough, that’s directly related to the fact that Harvey has retained super agent Scott Boras to represent him. As Ken Davidoff tweeted: “U don’t draft a Boras guy & then get cheap.” It’s a sign that they’re willing to spend some extra money to secure a player they like, which is all I wanted to see from them.

How Harvey will turn out? Well, here’s some historical perspective: on this date in 1967 the Mets drafted Steve Chilcott first overall. He became the first number one pick to fail to appear in the majors, and to add insult to injury, the A’s took Reggie Jackson with the second pick. But on the same date in 1982 the Mets drafted Dwight Gooden with the fifth pick. Not to get too snarky, but I think it’s safe to say that Harvey projects somewhere between the two.

Harvey has a way to go before he’s ready for the majors and Terry Collins and the rest of the minor league coordinators, instructors, and coaches will have to put in a lot of work to get him there. Luck will enter the equation at some point: career ending injuries can happen to the greatest athletes at any time. All of that is on the table and it’s hard to forecast how it will end, but at least the Mets didn’t unnecessarily limit themselves when they made the pick. That’s about the most you can hope for on draft day, and the Mets didn’t disappoint this year.

Post Script: @tmmets29 tweeted the following after I finished this post: “We’ll see if they make some reaches in later rounds though. Easy to spend on first rounder.” And he’s absolutely right. The possibility exists that because they’re willing to spend on their first rounder, the Mets will look for signable prospects in the later rounds. We have to guard against that possibility and not let management and ownership off the hook, but I will say this: it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we saw a Boras client or two in the next few rounds. Again, it would be a blatant signal to the fans that the team is willing to spend.

And please forgive the conspiracy theory that’s about to follow, but might it impact the status of a certain loopy lefty? If the Mets were to draft a few Boras clients and meet their contract demands, might he in turn convince Oliver Perez to accept a demotion to Buffalo? This certainly qualifies as rampant speculation: I don’t even know how many Boras clients when the Mets pick again at 89 (though I suspect there will be more than one). I don’t know and I’m just throwing it out there but either way, the Mets will have about 45-50 more picks to demonstrate that they’re unafraid to spend and, conspiracy theories aside, they should open their wallets and make it rain as often as they can.

Posted in Mets, On This Date | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tommie Agee’s Titanic Blast

Posted by JD on April 10, 2010

I was reminded of this nice feat by the BR Bullpen: on this date in 1969, Tommie Agee hit a titanic blast into the upper deck seats of Shea Stadium, a feat that was never matched (thanks to the Wikipedia, I learned that it was also his first multi-homer game). The marker placed in section 48 was, in my opinion, one of the coolest features of Shea: a direct connection to the 1969 Miracle Mets. That team was way before my time, but I always looked at the marker as a sort of time machine, a way to temporarily put myself in the shoes of the fans who were there that day to see a bit of Mets history.

Here’s to hoping that we all get to share in a similar experience at Citi Field. The sooner the better.

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, Mets, On This Date | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Moment Of Silence, Please

Posted by JD on April 2, 2010

I normally enjoy a good “on this date” post, but today we have to pause to remember one of the saddest days in franchise history. Please take of your caps and hang your heads for moment, for on this date in 1972 Gil Hodges passed away after collapsing on a golf course in West Palm Beach, Florida.

One of the most important figures in the franchise’s history, Hodges was instrumental in molding the “Miracle Mets” of 1969. A fan favorite, Hodges was an original Met passed who returned to lead the Mets to previously unimaginable success. He took a franchise that defined the term “laughing stock” and lead them to the promised land. One of only three Mets to have his number retired, Hodges was a unique leader who earned every accolade he received.

He may never be enshrined in that building in Cooperstown, but he’ll always have a place in the hearts of real Mets fans (even those of us who never had the privilege of watching his teams play). Cheers Gil, and thank you.

Posted in Mets, On This Date | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Happy Anniversary, Ronnie!

Posted by JD on April 1, 2010

On this date in 1982, the Mets traded fan-favorite and resident hearthrob (and future-former SNY broadcaster) Lee Mazzilli to the Texas Rangers in what is arguably one of the best trades in franchise history. The Mets received two young pitchers in return, Walt Terrell and Ron Darling, both of whom* would go on to play important roles on the 86 and 88 teams.

*I know what you’re thinking, but Terrell was later traded straight-up for Howard Johnson. So he was pretty important, in a round-about way.

Darling would go on to win 99 regular season games and Game 4 of the 86 World Series. Often mediocre during most of his Mets career (101 OPS+ over nine seasons), Darling saved his best performances for that key season, compiling a career best 127 OPS+ and earning a fifth place Cy Young vote. He was traded to the Expos in 1991 for the immortal Tim Burke, but finished the season in Oakland. The following year he appeared in the postseason again as the A’s lost the ALCS to the eventual champion Toronto Blue Jays.

He ended his playing career in Oakland in 1995 and launched his broadcasting career there after a five-year hiatus. Despite a brief foray into the motion picture industry (he appeared in Shallow Hal and The Day After Tomorrow), Darling was back in the booth in 2005, calling Washington Nationals games during their inagural season. Darling returned to New York in 2006, appearing first in SNY’s studio shows but eventually moving into the booth to call games with Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez (and throwing out the first pitch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS).

Ron’s been a part of the Mets family for 18 years now, and it all began on this date in 1982. No foolin’

Posted in Flushing Frivolities, On This Date | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hey, Super Joe!

Posted by JD on March 18, 2010

There are a ton of Joe McEwing fans out there. We all know at least one. The super-utilityman who embodied grit and hustle and any other intangible you can think of endeared himself to many a Mets fan during his time in the blue and orange. Well, today is a big day for all of you Super Joe fans: on this date ten long years ago, the Mets acquired the mini-mite in return for Jesse Orosco (who had been re-acquired only months before). And so it came to be that Super Joe McEwing entered our lives, and all was well.

One caveat: don’t bother bringing up how he “owned” Randy Johnson. It turns out that it’s a myth that was largely created by one game. Here’s my post from last June addressing the McEwing/Johnson dynamic:

Randy Johnson just became the most recent member of the 300 win club, a fraternity that all but guarantees he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Ken Davidoff and Joe Posnanski (with Bill James) have much more detailed takes on Johnson, both well worth reading. Posnanski is of the school of thought that we’ll see other 300 game winners (though it may be awhile). I tend to agree. While we, as baseball fans, should take time to appreciate the greatness of Johnson’s career, we shouldn’t overdramatize it to the point that we call him “The Last 300 Game Winner”. Though that does conjure images in my mind of an aging Randy Johnson popping open a bottle of champagne every time a pitcher retires close, but just shy, of 300 wins.

But I digress. Watching Randy Johnson wrap up his 300th victory yesterday made me reminisce about “Super” Joe McEwing, the utility man who played for the Mets from 2000-04. McEwing had some memorable at-bats against Johnson, to the point that it was said that he “owned” him. This was more than a little unusual because, at the time, Johnson was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league.  It isn’t often when a little-used utility player “owns” a multiple-Cy Young Award winner, so I decided to look at the match-up more closely.

All told, McEwing had 44 at-bats against Johnson which, interestingly enough, was the most he had against any pitcher. Somewhat surprisingly, his career line against Johnson was only .250/.244/.432 (BA/OBP/SLG), with one home run and four RBI. Digging deeper, however, revealed this interesting fact: in 2000, McEwing went 4-for-6 against Johnson, producing a .667/.571/1.667 line. Those four hits were three doubles and one home run, and he hit two of those doubles and the home run in one game (on 5/21/00). So, his reputation as a Johnson-killer primarily came from one single game.

Just goes to show how far popular perception can be from reality. McEwing was a fan (and personal) favorite so I don’t begrudge him anything. But the numbers show his reputation for “owning” Randy Johnson was in fact much ado about nothing.

And so it goes, even for Super Joe.

Posted in Mets, On This Date | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »