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Hooray for Mike Piazza, and for Us

31It’s an odd combination of reassuringly high standards and an embarrassingly poor record with regard to qualified candidates that has gotten the Mets through more than half a century with a single player seeing his number retired, but that’s likely to double this year now that Mike Piazza has been elected to the Hall of Fame.

As it happens the Mets are hosting the Braves Sept. 21 this year, 15 years to the day from Piazza’s signature moment as a Met. I may have told this story before but I was there that night, and nearly killed myself leaping with unimaginable joy, landing on an empty Budweiser bottle, which shot out front under me as I crashed down onto those rib-cracking Upper Reserved boxes.

As a result, I’m not sure he ever touched third base.

This I also remember as the day where the sad new realities of the dehumanizing, cautious and paranoid post-911 world first really set in, requiring us to pass armed soldiers on the 7 train platform, wait in a lengthy queue out in the Shea parking lot just to get into the park (we missed the first inning, and I hate that). Also, I guess due to the long layoff between home games, the beers were warm. I mean, not just not cold, but warm. Jay Payton kicklined with Liza Minelli and before we knew it the Patriot Act was passed. It’s all mixed up still.

On some level I’m also cynical of the whole number-retirement thing, and feel like Piazza’s close association with the Wilpons, and his postcareer outspokenness on his desire to be identified as a Met is on some level orchestrated to this end, though give Mike credit: He knows how to give fans what they want to see.

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The Better Team Won

broom

Look, any way a Mets team gets to a World Series is just fine with me, but wanted to remark for posterity how convincing an expression of “may the better team win” this club has demonstrated in these playoffs. We withstood doubleshots of Kershaw and Greinke and a cheapshot from Utley and marched on ahead; and have now beaten the Cubs so thoroughly, in every aspect of the game, there’s just no ambiguity about it: The Mets are the best team in the National League in 2015.

Soak that in.

28Readers will surely know I’ve never been Daniel Murphy’s biggest Met supporter, but would never deny his overwhelming Met-ness, and couldn’t be any happier for him or more in awe of his performance. He’s outsmarting the other guys now? Keep it up! And what of David Wright? The play I’m going to remember from Game 4 was that fantastic catch with the bases loaded that had to have all but killed whatever feint beat remained in the hearts of Wrigleyville. From a guy who missed nearly the entire year with a back injury and is the only remaining member of the last Mets team to play an NLCS. Jon Niese with a big strikeout in Game 2. Duda and d’Arnaud. 48Flores driving it into the gaps. Granderson leading off. Nieuwenhuis and Lagares. Syndergaard, Familia and Harvey blowing guys away, and deGrom — counting the postseason, now the Mets’ winningest 48 ever — destroying them without his best stuff.

Fifteen years ago I rooted with everything I had but was never convinced we had the best team in the tournament, much less the Series. The ’06 juggernaut for all its potential played its way out. We need to go back 29 years, until… Yup.

So congrats Mets, and congrats to all of us who’ve hung in there. Especially us geeks who visit this site, this incredibly will be the second Mets World Series in the MBTN Era. More news on that soon, btw. Let’s Go Mets!

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Two for 2

2Well the moment is upon us and someone’s going to pay the price for the Mets having played fast and loose with uni number assignments.

Dilson Herrera, along with Logan Verrett and Johnny Monell, were recalled following this afternoon’s smashing victory at Washington. While we can expect Verrett to wear 35 and Monell 19 as they had earlier this year, Hererra will be wearing something. That’s because the Mets rather inelegantly issued Juan Uribe Herrera’s No. 2 while Herrera was away rehabbing and playing for AAA Las Vegas.

The Mets roster as of late last Monday night, still lists the two of them wearing No. 2.

As noted previously, I’ve given this matter some thought and suggested
0 could be a solution. Other swipes from the uncalled-for, like Vic Black’s 38 or Danny Muno’s 16, are also possibilities. Then I realized poor Dilson also wore 2 in Las Vegas this season and wondered if he wouldn’t pull a Benito Santiago and alight in 02. Santiago, for you youngins, was a catcher with San Diego who famously rocked No. 09 — he wanted space between the digits for the strap holding his chest protector.

Great win today!

 

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68 Guns

68Hi, I don’t want to interfere with the pennant race so I’ll be quick here and acknowledge the return of Dario Alvarez to the big club. Alvarez maintains the same No. 68 he wore last time around and the distinction of being the only man ever to wear that number for the Mets (he’s also the only Dario, and the only Alvarez, in club history. What a trailblazer!). Best wishes for a speedy recovery to Lucas Duda whom I suspect must have been hurting all year and for all I know may have contracted spinal stenosis while sharing a weight-lifting bench with David Wright.

22Also this weekend came word the Mets had dealt for our old friend Eric Young Jr., presumably in anticipation of requiring a Dave Roberts kinda stolen base sometime in September or October. You figure that’ll invite a controversy come September when Kevin Plawecki presumably returns, he inherited Young’s old No. 22 once EYJ was nontendered last season by the Mets.

We hope some additional visibility into this explosive issue in the days to come but would suggest not for the first time this season that the sheer volume of issued jerseys out there increases the likelihood a guy like Young, should he get the call, is looking at the possibility of wearing 0 — or 71.

 

 

 

 

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Just Like Oliver Perez

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30 is the new 1,000

30Congratulations, Michael Conforto! You’re not only the savior of the franchise, you’re also in line to be the club’s 1,000th overall player when you make your debut tonight at Citifield.

To anguished fans beating themselves up over the state of the offense, this promotion will never have come soon enough but if you ask me more changes are likely on the way in the next week or so. Given his remarkable deliberateness in the face of so much (real and manufactured) fan and media outrage, not my admiration for Sandy Alderson is actually growing. Everyone forgets how easy it used to be to either push the Mets into stupid decisions or simply witness the club with its priorities all wrong when they did make a move. This is kind of exciting.

Conforto as been well-reported has been issued No. 30, which is actually one of the rarest numbers under 50 in team history. He’ll be just the 19th player to wear 30, thanks largely to Mel Stottlemyre‘s nine-year occupation in the 80s and 90s.

It’s a number that most recently belonged to Andrew Brown, and most famously represented by Cliff Floyd, but at the risk of dating myself I tend to associate it with Mike Torrez, a bit of a poor man’s Bartolo Colon in the 1980s. It’s also appeared on the backs of a handful of reserve catchers like Brown (he was an emergency catcher, anyway), Alberto Castillo, Raul Casanova and Josh Thole, who eventually became a disappointing starting catcher.

Thirty of course was also retired, by the Angels, in honor of ex-Met and former 30, Nolan Ryan.

30guys

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Dar-rell

9Word came following last night’s harrowing win that Las Vegas outfielder and longtime personal fave Darrell Ceciliani was recalled and will be active for tonight’s game.

No word officially on who goes down yet but by means of a hint, Darrell is a lefthanded hitter capable of playing all three positions, a pretty good athlete and baserunner with a little bit of power but who strikes out more than you’d like to see, if not at Kirk Niuewenhuis levels.

I feel bad for Niuewy and am sure he has one of those hot streaks contained in his bat but the team can’t keep waiting for it to come around. Hopefully Kirk can avoid a waiver claim and get to work in AAA.

1That thing I said about being a Ceciliani fan is true by the way. I followed his progress through 5 minor league seasons as an adoptive parent at the Crane Pool Forum and know that observers think highly of his no-batting-gloves, all-out playing style. I’ve come to admire how he’s shrugged off a couple of injury-marred, disappointing seasons and 2 winters on the Rule 5 block and is now posting numbers that are almost as good as his promising debut season in Brooklyn all those years ago.

Ceciliani in fact wasn’t even invited to the big-league camp this year, although he made some appearances as a late-inning pinch hitter. At least once — I believe this was last spring training — he showed up wearing 0 but was also seen before wearing 93. At Vegas he wore 11, but carried other numbers in the minors.

If the Mets release or trade Nieuwenhuis I could see Ceciliani turn up in the vacated No. 9 but would agree with the commenters below that No. 1 looks like a good possibility. (Update: This is official!)

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Stinky Mets Stink

34You probably don’t need much less want a reminder that the Mets are really stinking up the joint out there and giving back darn near all they gained as a result of that magical win streak, if that actually happened at all and wasn’t a figment of our imaginations like a successful sacrifice bunt. Boy do they stink.

The last bit of bad news is Dilson Hererra’s injury: He’s on the DL now and Eric Campbell is on the way back. Why the Mets won’t pull the trigger on Matt Reynolds is a bit puzzling but I think they’re stubbornly committed to doing all they can do to stick with the Flores-at-shortstop plan, even when seemingly better options are out there. At times, it reminds one of 2004 when they committed to — and stuck with — Kaz Matsui at shortstop over Jose Reyes long after it was apparent they could and should have reversed course.

I’m still of the mind that Flores isn’t a bad idea. Leave him be, and he might hit 20 home runs, which is a lot for a shortstop and just might turn out to be a lot for a Met this year. And in a lineup with adequate production elsewhere, it would be especially good but we’re not getting those things right now while David Wright and his 60-year-old body recovers from whatever ails him and Travis d’Arnaud heals a broken finger.

Though you don;t like to see an injury be the case, Hererra it seems could use some more seasoning in the minors anyway, as could Kevin Plawecki.

Have you guys met Noah Syndergaard yet? He’s wearing No. 34.

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Hey Nineteen

19Less than a month into the season and we’ve already seen promotions for the two guys who caught my eye in spring training: Since-demoted infielder Danny Muno and now, lefthanded-hitting third-catcher dynamo Johnny Monell.

Monell, as he’d modeled during Spring Training, takes the largely undistinguished uni No. 19 which I associate most strongly, for whatever reason, with Ron Gardenhire. Though Tim Foli wants in the picture too. Irascible TV personality Bobby Ojeda is still the most accomplished of the 35 guys who have worn 19 for the Mets, a group whose luminaries include diminutive relievers Daniel Ray Hererra and Tom “The Blade” Hall and fat one Heath Bell; outfield disasters Roger Cedeno and Ryan Church; Lenny Harris, who specialized in pinch-hits; Mike Hessman, who specialized in minor league home runs; and Anthony Young, who specialized in losing.

Welcome aboard, Johnny. We need all the help we can get.

2The move by the way followed the reintroduction of Dilson Hererra to the Mets lineup and a recasting of last September’s arrangement whereby Dilson manned second base and Daniel Murphy third base. I think it’s pretty clear that Murphy’s days as a Mets starter are nearing their end. If he becomes the left-handed pinch-hitter that Kirk Nieuwenhuis isn’t this year or Johnny Monell might be, great. If not?

Great article by Sporting News scribe Jesse Spector on the curious, rarely issued No. 69, worn more often by Pirates than by all other teams combined.

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Alt.Uni.Numbers

16You may have seen in the post below where I thanked my hardworking design team for crafting a new set of graphic numbers that finally got around to ditching the black a few seasons after the Mets actually, finally, blessedly did.

What I didn’t do was upload the images to the proper directory and so what I thought was a whole new set of numbers but didn’t really look like them actually was the same old set of numbers that looked exactly like them. My bad!

Anyhow, I think I may have finally straightened it out and new, brighter, bluer, less blacker numerals ought to be where the darker, shadowy ones used to be. You might need to refresh your page or something to make it happen, I don’t know. You’d figure after 16 years of doing this my skills would improve a little but, you know, I also thought Rey Ordonez could hit better if he just gave it a better try.

54Just for fun I ordered a mock-up of the silvery-gray road numbers they’ve been wearing on the alt-blues — a look I like a lot as it reminds me of young Dwight Gooden — which Dirk whipped up here. What do you think?

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