Archive for That Actually Happened

Mets Give Hand Job

Couldn’t resist, and sorry.

Brad Hand today became the third guy to wear No. 52 this season; he takes it from Jake Reed, who (I’m pretty sure) is still on the 40-man roster but rehabbing an injury in the minors. Reed took it from Nick Tropeano. Just saying: Joe Pignatano wore 52 for 14 years out in the Shea Bullpen Tomato Garden.

Mr. Hand, whom the Mets reportedly had coveted over the offseason but were unable to secure due to the fact that they didn’t have a GM in place: That GM quickly got himself fired, and the GM they got to replace the GM who got fired did something that’ll probably get him fired too but at least he got Brad Hand, came to the Mets via the Nationals via the Blue Jays via the waiver wire. It’s all very clear.

The powerful database where my number data resides is unhappy: It wants me to assign uniform numbers to the five guys who played in the resumption of last Tuesday’s suspended game who joined the club following its beginning back in April: This is because the stats accrued “belong” to the game initially scheduled. OK, so I backdated Patrick Mazeika, Brandon Drury and Heath Hembree with no issues. Chance Sisco is now ahead of, and also behind, Anthony Banda in progression of Met 77s.

But the Flux Capacitor ran out of plutonium while trying to transport Javier Baez back in time. That’s because his 23 on April 11 belonged then to David Peterson. Should we just pretend the game never started in April? I guess we sorta have to, even if this introduces conflict with the official stat line and secondary data like the the progression of Mets, by the way. Instead of being the 1,148th Met ever if we’re counting along with the calendar, Baez winds up being something like 1,123–and we haven’t won 7 in a row, but 6 (I’m writing this between games of the Sept. 4 double-dip.

Amazin’ still we’ve added this many guys in one year and just keep on adding.

Other options would be to “unassign” Peterson 23 for that one game (fortunately, he didn’t appear but it wasn’t like he wasn’t occupying a jersey) or perhaps, solving these conflicts by creating a special character instead of a number, such as ¥, or ∞, or ≠, to indicate when and where these things happen. This seems like an offseason project, like getting a new GM and trading away Jeff McNeil. What a nutty season.

 

 

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I Smell A Rat

In the aftermath of the explosive controversy and heroics surrounding last night’s extra-winning walkoff comeback victory over the Diamondbacks, the MBTN’s Investigative Team put on its journalism shoes and uncovered exclusive footage from the tunnel leading to the Citifield home clubhouse to confirm that indeed, Francisco Lindor was full of it when he told reporters a between-innings punch-up with teammate Jeff McNeil concerned a disagreement over the teammates saw a rat or a raccoon in the tunnel. Watch:

Indeed, it was tradition. One that brought to mind another high-priced savior import Bobby Bonilla, who once asserted a mid-game press box phone call was to check in on the health of an official and not to lobby an official scorer’s decision.

This tall tale–and Luis Rojas’ weak demonstration of his role as a leader of men–obscured a few historic moments including the debut hit and RBI for both Patrick Mazeika and all Mets who ever wore No. 76 (zero till last night despite Mazeika’s few no-show appearances); two surprise scoreless innings from new arrival Tommy Hunter; and Lindor’s own awakening for a season-long slumber. Maybe we should all punch Jeff McNeil in the face; I’d be lying if I said he didn’t seem to need one himself from time to time.

Thanks for the updates as new coaches Hugh Quattlebaum is now in 56 and Kevin Howard in 54.

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Giveaway Day

We’re piecing the numerical roster together as guys appear and the job would have been easier and less stressful had our overmatched young manager Luis Rojas not made a complete disaster out of last night’s opener, showing off his new team instead of trying to win.

I probably don’t need to remind you of this but Rojas was the second choice of the previous administration, managed the best-hitting team in the league to miss the playoffs by a mile in the easiest season there ever was to make the playoffs then shamefully turned last night’s mismatch into a giveaway.

I’m trying not to come off as your dad here. Rojas himself said deGrom would have been good for 100 pitches beforehand, only to fall back on a cowardly and unconvincing revelation that it was “ups” and not pitches all along, but essentially, arguing that either would have valid when neither was. This is a confused and untrustworthy kid out there. What an awful waste. I hadn’t been so excited for an opening day in five years.

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Caught On Tape

The most famous 61 since Roger Maris’ shot off future Met Jack Fisher has come gloriously back to life.

Just in, Met historian Dennis D’Agostino alerted me to a newly published Youtube of the entire WGN broadcast of 1979’s Opening Day Mets-Cubs game at Wrigley Field that included the major-league debut of the Mets’ Jesse Orosco. As readers of this site know this was an important historical moment not just because Orosco would go to make another 1,251 appearances–the most for a pitcher in baseball history–but that for the unusual circumstances under which he appeared: Wearing a jersey that bore No. 61, with no name on the back. Verifying this bit of odd history–Orosco made all of his subsequent appearances for the Mets wearing No. 47–and maintained that number for 23 years until a career-ending 8-game stretch with Minnesota when teammate Corey Koskie wore 47–was one of the landmark Holy Grails of this project.

Over the years and with the help of good people like like Dennis, my Cub fan friend Kasey Ignarski, who provided his own hand-scored scoresheet, and a third fan who provided video stills of the game, we nailed this. But I never saw the whole broadcast until yesterday. You will die when you hear Jack Brickhouse’s commentary at the 2:25:30 mark. Start here:

As previously relayed, that a 22-year-old Orosco even made the trip was something of a surprise it itself. The lefty was selected ahead of more accomplished contenders like Nelson Briles, due primarily to the austerity measures enacted as the ’79 club crawled to the finish line of the Payson-deRoulet Era as a destitute franchise. Its likely the club simply didn’t have the time or money to spring for a “proper” jersey (61 was outrageously high then) that wasn’t a spring training used jersey. ’79 was also the first year that Mets affixed names to jerseys but as shown they didn’t get around to all of them.

Lee Mazzilli also lacked a name on back–but Kelvin Chapman did not.

Joe Torre preferred Briles to Orosco, Scott and Allen

 

 

Kasey Ignarski’s hand-written scorecard: The same data Jack Brickhouse had!

 

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Bauerless, Not Powerless

It’s easy to make an argument the Mets dodged a bullet this week when the arrogant free agent pitcher Trevor Bauer left them at the altar and agreed instead to a deal with the Dodgers that’d make him the best-paid player in the game and grants him multiple opt-outs should he want to try to pull this clown show again either of the next two years.

And they did given all that baggage but I’d certainly like to see another Cy Young winner on the staff, given what they were evidently willing to part with and the abuse they were willing to withstand should they have added yet another guy without the common sense to behave himself on the Internet, even if it comes off a giant douchy act.

Where to from here? There’s free agent Jake Odorizzi out there still, a 15-game winner in 2019 who missed most of last season after taking a line drive off the No. 12 on the front of his Twins jersey. There’s money in the bank were the Mets to lock in guys like Conforto and Lindor, or buy a free agent center fielder, and flexibility were they to take advantage of the Wrigleyville’s teardown and acquire Kris Bryant in a trade. It’s not like the Cardinals’ addition of Arenado is going to increase their chances this time.

I’m expecting something, is what I’m saying.

Catching up on recent moves that didn’t accompany all that much hype the Mets traded with Miami for pitcher Jordan Yamamoto, a young righty starter with terrible big-league numbers but the kind of curveball spin rate that gets the geeks excited. Yamamoto is from Hawaii and naturally wears No. 50 in the tradition of Sid Fernandez and Benny Agbayani. Adding Yamamoto to the 40-man roster also cleared the Mets of a seeming controversy with infielder Robel Garcia who was issued a placeholder 00, waived and subsequently claimed by the Angels.

Miguel Castro, the kind of down-on-his-luck would-be relief ace the Mets always seem to scoop up in the hopes he’ll improve next year (see AJ Ramos) wore No. 50 last year. He’s got that Brody stink and maybe he goes in my fantasy Kris Bryant trade which is built around the $16 million the Cubs save by taking JD Davis, and a friend suggests, taking a real prospect for Kyle Hendricks. They can even have Jordan Yamamoto in that case. Bryant by the way wears No. 17 with the Cubs and will test the quiet mothballing of those figures here should he arrive.

I dunno what to say about another black eye for the organization re: Mickey but in retrospect I was far too kind to a guy who hardly ever won a game with X’s and O’s, fished with Donald Trump Jr., batted the Mets out of order, blew up at reporters, couldn’t say “I’m sorry,” and finally, was a creep.

 

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Sprung

Can’t blame Jeff Wilpon for this one, but the Mets have another black eye and brain drain to deal with after it was revealed that the newly arrived and highly touted general manager Jared Porter was also a creepy cocktographer, a woman harrasser, and a media abuser.

Look there are only 30 MLB general manager jobs in the world, so it’s to the new leadership’s shame they didn’t manage to sniff out what was evidently something of a known secret–if not in the details, then perhaps in Porter’s character, interpersonal relationships or habits. I didn’t even know what Porter looked like till that Zoom call a few weeks back but I have to confess I was somewhat surprised to see he looked like a guy who probably had a lot of beer in his fridge. Then again, I’m not in HR. And to its credit, management didn’t waste time feeling out what the reaction would be before acting decisively to whack Porter.

Now the team that initially said it wanted two top-notch baseball brains to lead the organization under CEO Sandy Alderson has none, and it’s on Sandy to go sign or trade for a center fielder other than George Springer who’s apparently headed to the Blue Jays.

Fortunately for the Mets there are options still, and with Springer off the board and February approaching you have to figure the remaining job-seekers will find new offices shortly. Speculation is the club could sign free agents Jackie Bradley Jr., whose worn three different numbers over his seasons in Boston (44, 25 and 19, all of which are already assigned to Mets currently), or Albert Almora (No. 5 with the Cubs, out of circulation), and maybe even swing a deal for Lorenzo Cain (No. 6 on the Brewers, also unavailable). We also know Sandy has interest in free-agent reliever Brad Hand and that Porter until yesterday morning was investigating pitcher Trevor Williams, most recently No. 34 on the Pirates.

Porter also managed earlier this week to swing a deal with San Diego for lefty Joey Lucchesi, who will also shop for a new uni number having worn the retired 37 as a Friar, and could hasten the end of Steven Matz’ long run in Metville.

Finally on this day of new beginnings let’s give a shout-out to Ollie Perez, Brooks Pounders, Dallas Green, young Neil Allen and the rest of the 46 Club. Go Hens!

 

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Cleveland Steamer!

Jared Porter’s not screwing around. Today he swung a deal bringing Cleveland Indians’ stars Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco to Flushing, giving the tribe last year’s shortstop platoon (the disappointing Amed Rosario and the undisappointing Andres Gimenez– together, just they were just pointing) and two minor leaguers: Pitcher Josh Wolf and young outfielder Eliajah Isaiah Greene.

This is an obvious talent injection helped along by Steve Cohen’s gigantic wallet and may accompany a contract extension for Lindor, a gold-glove-winning, switch-hitting, 30-plus home-run-slugging shortstop who’s still just a youngun at 26. And Carrasco, presuming he’s recovered from his own health scares, is a fine addition to the rotation at a fair price.

I wanted very much for Rosario to succeed (and a few times, it looked like he might) but even a good Rosario wouldn’t be in Lindor’s class as a hitter or a fielder. Gimenez in the meantime had a magical arrival and looks to be a useful little player but (and I could be wrong here) I also got the feeling he was something of a souped-up Ruben Tejada who played about as good in a few months last season as he ever might.

So scratch No. 1s and 60 off your pre-preseason roster and pencil in 12 and 59 for the new guys. The former, Lindor’s digits in Cleveland, belonged most recently to Eduardo Nunez whom I’ve almost already forgotten was a Met and almost always incorrectly refer to as “Edwin Nunez”; 59 belonged to recently re-upped pitching instructor Jeremy Accordo, whom I predict here will slide into the No. 60 shirt that Gimenez should never have been wearing in the first place.

You may have seen in the meantime the Mets replaced Tony DeFrancesco with our our friend Tony Tarasco as a first base coach. Tarasco we last saw getting Grant Roberts high in 2002, wearing No. 40.

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Catching Up

Wow. So quite a bit has happened since we last caught up. As I’d mentioned I’d sort of involuntarily “opted out” of the fraudulent 2020 season that while deeply unsatisfying in so many ways, is already one of the most consequential for us in orange-and-blue (and in red-white-and-blue too, but that’s another regrettable nightmare that mercifully appears very close to an end as well).

Let’s recap a few things I missed real quick

Goodbye Fred and Jeff

Beat it. I mean, GTFO.

I’m not overstating it even a little bit when I say the Wilpons’ stunning incompetence and inability to learn despite making the same mistakes over and over and over again had so badly damaged my enthusiasm for the club I was losing interest in something as natural and enjoyable as this goofy little project. I understand that there’s no sure bets in life and financial realities interfere from time to time, but it was never too big an ask that an owner avoid actively making the process of rooting for a team you love an exercise in futility and self-hatred. How hard could it be to sell the Mets to Mets fans?

Don’t answer till you consider these guys not once but twice failed to execute a sale of the team (remember the Einhorn debacle?) mainly because they couldn’t NOT interfere. I’ve been re-reading THE WORST TEAM MONEY COULD BUY recently and reminded that Fred was screwing things up back then too, a pattern that would continue for nearly 30 years. Stunning! Most recently the stealth coup that landed the Mets most recently with a green chair-throwing general manager who promptly mortgaged the future for a steroid case, let a terrific starting pitcher walk to a division rival, screwed up his only chance to name a field manager, and leaves a worse team than he found.

Thank goodness Steve Cohen had the sense to give Sandy Alderson a chance to rescue the team once again. Did you notice Terry Collins and Omar Minaya are also out? What a turn of events. I’m not on the Cohen Crack like everyone else quite yet but his performance so far indicates he’s at least diagnosed many of the same problems we fans have (how hard could that be?) and I’m confident things cannot possibly get worse than they’ve been.

Other Comings and Goings

Sandy and his non-existent front-office team so far have signed a decent relief pitcher (Minnesota’s Trevor May, who seems like a swell guy and as mid-career bullpenners go, not a bad shot), invited a bunch of intriguing guys to Spring Training (OF Mallex Smith, SS Jose Peraza, RP Arodys Vizcaino) and picked up a lottery ticket or two including a 6-foot-7 minor league reliever called Sam McWilliams. The qualified offer to Marcus Stroman was accepted raising the possibility they’ll have a No. 0 after all. This week they got contracts done or offered to fringe 40-man guys that by now include the exasperating Omar-Era Holdover Steven Matz and outfielder Guillermo Heredia whose garbage-time arrival in September wasn’t even noted in our numerical rosters till just now. Sorry about that. He wears 15. Brian Dozier, whom I’d forgotten was ever a Met, no longer does. Chasen Shreve got whacked. So did Paul Sewald.

May by the way wore 65 in Minnesota, which belongs to the damaged Robert Gsellman.

And Now

The Mets have lots of possibilities again. Brodie didn’t necessarily screw up everything beyond what ought to have been decent chances this year and last, thanks mainly to the core assembled by his predecessor and successor.

Cohen has said he’d open up the checkbook so it seems likely they could add a pitcher like Trevor Bauer, reassembling a slate of strong starting pitching they had until Brodie interfered (and possibly interiting the No. 47 surrendered by Shreve). George Springer is available as is uni No. 4, uselessly occupied by Jed Lowrie for two friggin years. J.T. Realmuto (no. 10 in Philadelphia) might catch on, but someone new will at any rate.

We could see some new coaches (were the Wilpons so dumb that thinking did a hitting coach could work from home?) and front office personnel, a trade or two. I’ll try and pay attention.

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And… We’re Back?

Wow. It’s been awhile since our last update as I’ve holed up working through this pandemic, I hope you guys are all staying safe. This website was so dusty I hadn’t realized I’d allowed the domain to expire, if you tried to visit recently, my apologies.

Hard to believe they’re going to try and pull this off, but ready or not (um, not, based on the injuries and exhibitions I’ve seen) they open in a little more than 24 hours and today announced the THIRTY guys they’re going to start off with. We’ll update the records on the database as they go live, but say hello to the Pandemic Mets of 2020 (including 40-man guys “not active”: I guess they are in some sort of limbo, along with the Non-roster guys like who didn’t make the cut like Steven Gonslaves who I assume are set free to join the growing number of unemployed Americans).

So let’s be fans and provide warm and socially distant greetings to the following new Mets: Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Chasen Shreve, Hunter Strickland, Michael Wacha, Andres Gimenez, Eduardo Nunez and Jake Marisnick. Joining the uniformed staff for the first time: Manager Luis Rojas, and coaches Hensley Muelens, Jeremy Hefner, Jeremy Accardo, Tony DeFrancesco and Brain Schneider.

I’m listing Hefner in 53 although he was most recently wearing 93 while the Mets entertained but ultimately decided against Melky Cabrera. Hearing from reliable sources there’s another assistant hitting coach in uniform 34, Ryan Ellis, but that makes no sense as Syndergaard is still with us in spirit anyway. Subject to change!

Number Name Notes
0 Marcus Stroman, P Injured list
1 Amed Rosario, SS
2 Dom Smith, IB-OF
3 Tomas Nido, C
4 Jed Lowrie, INF Injured List
5 vacant Unassigned (David Wright)
6 Jeff McNeil, INF-OF
7 vacant
8 Vacant Unassigned (Gary Carter)
9 Brandon Nimmo, OF
10 Gary DiSarcina, CH 3rd base coach
11 Tony DeFrancesco, CH 1st base coach
12 Eduardo Nunez, INF
13 Luis Guillorme, INF
14 Retired Gil Hodges
15 Vacant
16 Jake Marisnick, OF
17 Vacant unassigned (Keith Hernandez)
18 vacant
19 Luis Rojas, MGR
20 Pete Alonso, 1B
21 vacant
22 Rick Porcello, P
23 Brian Schneider, CH quality control coach
24 Robinson Cano, 2B
25 Ricky Bones, CH bullpen coach
26 vacant
27 Jeurys Familia, P
28 JD Davis, INF-OF
29 Brad Brach, P Injured List
30 Michael Conforto, OF
31 Retired Mike Piazza
32 Steven Matz, P
33 vacant
34 Noah Syndergaard, P Injured List
35 vacant
36 Retiring Jerry Koosman
37 Retired Casey Stengel
38 Justin Wilson, P
39 Edwin Diaz, P
40 Wilson Ramos, C
41 Retired Tom Seaver
42 Retired Jackie Robinson
43 vacant
44 Rene Rivera, C
45 Michael Wacha,P
46 vacant
47 Chasen Shreeve, P
48 Jacob deGrom, P
49 Tyler Bashlor, P Not Active
50 Jeremy Accordo, CH assistant pitching coach
51 Paul Sewald, P
52 Yoenis Cespedes, OF
53 Jeremy Hefner, CH pitching coach
54 Chili Davis, CH hitting coach
55 Corey Oswalt, P
56 Tom Slater, CH Assistant hitting coach
57 Dave Racianello, CH Bullpen catcher
58 Hensley Muelens, CH Bench coach
59 vacant
60 Andres Gimenez, INF
61 Walker Lockett, P Not active
62 Drew Smith, P
63 Thomas Szapucki, P Not Active
64 Jordan Humphreys, P Not active
65 Robert Gsellman, P Disabled list
66 Franklyn Kilome, P Not Active
67 Seth Lugo, P
68 Dellin Betances, P
69 Vacant
70 Ali Sanchez, C Not Active
71 Hunter Strickland, P
72 vacant
73 Daniel Zamora, P Not Active
74 vacant
75 vacant
76 vacant
77 vacant
78 Eric Langill, CH Bullpen catcher
79 vacant
80 vacant
81 vacant
82 vacant
83 vacant
84 vacant
85 vacant
86 vacant
87 Jared Hughes, P Injured List
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The Untold Story of John Stearns vs. Chief Noc-A-Homa

No discussion of John Stearns ever gets too far without mentioning he’s the Mets catcher who took out Chief Noc-A-Homa with an open-field tackle. He was a four-time Mets All-Star and famously to me at least set a stolen-base-by-catchers mark in 1978 that got him hios own record-breakers card but his propensity to run down mascots–and rogue fans–are one of those things that will be mentioned in his obituary.

At the same time, while all Mets fans seem to know of these encounters with the Braves’ mascot, there’s a remarkable lack of specificity as to when this event actually happened. After all, tackles aren’t an official stat in the same way the uniform number is not really a stat: We associate with them, we tend to remember them, but only us geeks bother to commit it to the record. This guy mentions the very same phenomenon when it comes to Stearns’ fan encounters: I happened across that today while looking up the Noc-A-Homa situation.

A lot of online accounts say the Noc-A-Homa-Stearns brewhaha took place in 1977. Longtime Mets PR maven Jay Horwitz said it happened in 1984–which is highly unlikely given the catcher’s fragile physical condition then. I couldn’t substantiate either of those dates but I did find something interesting: There wasn’t one encounter but two:

The first took place in 1975, this poorly written and laid out Daily News piece shows (the lines are reversed at one point, a cut-and-paste back when they actually cut-and-pasted newspapers.

 

Then in 1981, Stearns gets his man a second time:

 

 

 

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