Tag Archive for Dwight Gooden

Tic Tac Toe

During Sunday’s victory over the Braves, an unusual and perceptive notice popped up in my feed. In the bottom of the first inning, Jay Bruce reached on an error, Neil Walker singled and Lucas Duda followed with a base-on-balls, setting up the following bases-loaded situation as described here by TJ:

Not to speak for Elias Sports, but I’d bet it is. I’ve played around a little bit trying to determine whether the Mets ever had an all-ascending uni number starting lineup (haven’t found one yet) and I can recall lots of notable sequential teammates but this question never occurred to me and figuring out would be a task, which is why I’m opening it up to you guys out there.

My first thought on this matter was the possibility of the 16-17-18 combo of Gooden on third, Hernandez on second and Strawberry on first, which had lots of opportunity to happen. Their teammates on the ’86 champs Wally Backman, Kevin Mitchell and Gary Carter, had a whole season of opportunity to pull this one off too, but also hard to envision a scenario where Backman stops at third. Foster-Gooden-Hernanez 15-17 would be a less likely scenario but I don’t want to rule it out yet.

Looking further into the likely possibilities would also require an examination of the 1969 World Champs, who had Agee, Jones and Clendenon stacked up 20-22 (Tim Foli, No. 19 in 1970-71, could be another engine in this train). Back when numbers were lower and retirements fewer we can envision scenarios of Ashburn on first, Throneberry at second and Bouchee or Harkness on 3rd, but I got no idea.

Anyone brave enough to dive into this please speak up!

Following is my list of notable Mets teammates wearing consecutive numbers, though by no means an exhaustive list of all possibilities over the years:

6 numbers:
1986: Foster 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1987–88: Aguilera 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20
1989: Darling 15, Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

5 numbers:
1989: Gooden 16, Hernandez 17, Strawberry 18, Ojeda 19, Johnson 20

3 numbers:
1968–71: Seaver 41, Taylor 42, McAndrew 43
1969–71: Agee 20, Jones 21, Clendenon 22
1975–77: Kingman 26, Swan 27, Milner 28
1986: Backman 6, Mitchell 7, Carter 8
1992: Gooden 16, Cone 17, Saberhagen 18
2015-17: Matz 32, Harvey 33, Syndergaard 34
2016-17: Bruce 19, Walker 20, Duda 21

*

 

Goodbye and good luck to Ty Kelly, the reserve we were discussing below, and who was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays yesterday. This Ty was no Cobb, but I liked having on the team.

 

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Talking Baseball

MBTN-bookshelfHey look! METS BY THE NUMBERS is here. It has been completely rewritten and re-engineered, including bios and data on more than 300 new players, with more minute details, a complete history of the uniform, new lists, new rankings, new photos, and more than 80 new pages. It’s hefty, and you can tell it’s an actual copy because David Wright appears on the cover instead of Dwight Gooden in the mockup you’ve seen until now. (Gooden instead appears on the spine, a nice touch).

It officially launches tonight with an event at Word Books (126 Franklin St., Brooklyn) where I will discuss the project in conversation with NBC Sports’ D.J. Short and Greg Prince, author of the excellent AMAZIN AGAIN. We will have books for sale and signatures, plus free beer and Crackerjacks, starting at 7 p.m. Please join us! (Word is easy to find, 2 blocks from the Greenpoint Ave. stop on the G).

62In Mets news, the club staggered to a disappointing series split in Milwaukee which saw still more of the team suffer aches and pains including manager Terry Collins (ill but thankfully appears OK), Neil Walker (bad back), Michael Conforto (wrist) and Jim Henderson (finger). Logan Verrett made a spot start then was sent down to Las Vegas and replaced by Erik Goeddel, who returned in No. 62. As noted, Kelly Johnson arrived and took over Ty Kelly’s No. 55.

Let’s Go Mets!

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Sweet Little 16

16Can you believe I’m the owner of website that’s now old enough to drive?

Yes, it was this day in 1999 when Mets by the Numbers debuted. It’s had a career as long, and about as useful, as Bud Harrelson’s. This site is so old that when it was launched the Mets still cared about what Dwight Gooden thought.

To celebrate let’s run down a list of the varied and memorable creatures to inhabit the No. 16 jersey, which began as a hot potato but matured into one of Metdom’s revered digits.

sammy-taylorBobby Gene Smith (1962), sometimes referred to as B.G. Smith, was the first man to occupy 16 for New York. An outfielder-third-baseman who’d spent most of his career with St. Louis, Smith was picked from the Phillies in the Expansion Draft, and was destined to become one of the first ex-Mets ever. He was batting .136 (3 for 25) when the Mets traded him to the Cubs for catcher Sammy Taylor, although he has the distinction of collecting the first triple in team history, a two-run stroke off future Met Jack Lamabe in April of ’62.

Smith handed the 16 jersey to Taylor as they crossed paths in the airport, and Taylor (1962-63, photo at left pinched from Paul’s Random Stuff) — one of seven catchers for that 1962 squad — subsequently passed 16 along to Jesse Gonder (1963) when they were swapped for one another in July of ’63. Gonder spent only a week in 16, surrendering it to oufielder Dick Smith upon Smith’s acquisition later that July, and switching to the unoccupied 12.

Smith (1963-64) and the man who followed him in the 16 jersey, Danny Napoleon (1965-66) were typical of the early Mets – both free-swinging minor league sluggers whose power didn’t translate to the big leagues. Following Napoleon were reserves Tommy Reynolds (1967), Kevin Collins (1968) and Queens native Mike Jorgensen (1969-71).

Crouching, choked-up slap-hitter Felix Millan wore No. 16 for 1973, his first year with the Mets. Millan switched to 17 a year later while reserve outfielder Dave Schneck switched into 16.

The Taylor-Gonder uni swap of 1963 would be repeated 13 years later later when another Met catcher, John Stearns (1975-76), took 12 and left his 16 to an outfielder, Lee Mazzilli, ushering in a new era of prosperity for the jersey. Mazz of course would be remembered more for his pants than his shirts, though both were revealingly snug fits.

mazzilliMazzilli (1977-81) was capable switch-hitting outfielder with power, speed, a good batting eye and style at a time when it was difficult to find a Met possessing any one of those qualities. His triumphant performance in 1979 All-Star Game — a home run and RBI walk, the latter off the Yankees Ron Guidry, complete with Mazzilli’s eff-you bat-flip — is remembered fondly by all Met fans to have survived 1979. Among guys wearing No. 16, Maz is still the Mets’ all-time leader in games, hits, home runs, runs, RBI, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.

By the time Mazzilli arrived for a feel-good Met reunion in 1986, Dwight Gooden had already rewritten 16’s history behind an electrifying right arm. The first pitcher to wear 16 as a Met, Gooden’s spectacular arrival in 1984 and mind-boggling success in 1985 will never likely see an equal. Although arm and drug troubles eventually wore some of the magic away, Gooden’s career was substantial enough that the club was careful not to issue 16 for nearly five years after his departure — and then only to a guy with equity in it, fading phenom Hideo Nomo (1998).

goodenAlthough Gooden was reportedly unhappy with the Nomo issue, several successors in 16 asked for — and received — Doc’s blessing. But a tradition of issuing 16 to veterans on their last legs was only starting then too.

Seafaring outfielder Derek Bell (2000) had long worn No. 16 in other locales as a tribute to Gooden, who preceded him from Tampa to the big leagues and whom Bell considered a hero. Bell would be a kind of Biazzaro Lee Mazzilli, known known not for his shirt but his gigantic, billowing pants.

In 2003, David Cone took 16 in tribute to his former teammate Gooden in a brief and doomed comeback attempt.

Then there was catcher Paul LoDuca (2006-07) who like Mazzilli was Brooklyn born, and grew up as a fan of the Gooden-era Mets, and wore 16 to signify it. LoDuca was a bit of a mess when it was all over but his .290 average as a Met is the best among guys who wore 16.

By the time LoDuca came along, Gooden’s long estrangement from the franchise led to careless reissues including a season of second-choice infielder Doug Mientkiewicz (2005); and nondescript reserve catcher Rob Johnson (2012). In between, prodigal outfielder Angel Pagan (2008-11) was alternately brilliant and brilliantly frustrating; his trade to San Francisco is one of the worst of the Sandy Alderson era.

Most recently, 16 went to last-call veterans Rick Ankeil (2013) and Daisuke Matsuzaka (2014). Most recently its been assigned to Alex Castellanos, a longshot non-roster outfielder who looks likely to spend the season in Las Vegas.

But after 16 years I can say this, you never know with these guys.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Mazzy Star

In the event you didn’t see it before, my biography of Lee Mazzilli was recently published at SABR’s Biography Project. I thought Mazzilli made an interesting topic if I may say so myself!

Not mentioned there (but always mentioned here), Mazzilli wore 3 different numbers as a Met. He debuted wearing No. 12 in 1976, but switched assignments with fellow youngsterJohn Stearns in 1977. It’s not clear exactly why this happened, but the accompany photo of Stearns here in his Colorado Buffalos gear presents a compelling suggestion. Mazzilli’s No. 16, which he wore through his glory years and the Mets’ worst years, was issued to Dwight Gooden when the Mets miraculously reacquired Maz in 1986. Mazzilli wore No. 13 thereafter.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

What in the Name of Norihito Nakamura

Someone ought to explain how where A-Rod had three subsidized years at $75 million coming from the Yankees and will wind up with $275 million and 10 years guaranteed, it’s he, and notHank Steinbrenner, who’s on his knees. Right, Hank. He crawled to you.

In the meantime, the Mets have abruptly opted out of the Yorvit Torrealba sweepstakes. If you had any faith that the Mets knew what they were doing when they pursued Torrealba in the first place, this isn’t good news. And if you were hoping they’d bring Paul LoDuca back, probably even worse news, because LoDuca’s price just went up. A lot.

We’re more in the first camp than the second, though it’s probably proper here to give LoDuca our thanks and a proper send off. He was a Met fan born in Brooklyn (like Lee Mazzilli), and a boyhood fan of Dwight Gooden and the 80s Mets. In other words, he was born to wear No. 16. And for half of his stay in that jersey, he did it proud. I’ll remember LoDuca for his fiery temper and teenage girlfriends generally but two plays specifically that bookended his remarkable 2006 season: Dropping the ball at the play at the plate on opening day but faking his way to an out; and — catching the ball this time — tagging consecutive sliding Dodgers on the very same play.

Thanks, Paul. Now, beat it. Is that Montero guy still available?

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

A Julio Franco Hip Replacement Away

Just great to see former Met Edgardo Alfonzo rescued from the indignities of independent league ball and given another shot by the Mets at AAA Norfolk, isn’t it? While a minor league contract for the (alleged) 32-year-old infielder, released by two other organizations already this year, may not amount to much, we can’t help but get ahead of ourselves and recall the warm fuzzies of Lee Mazzilli’sheartwarming return to the organization he gave the best years of his life to, and just in time for the postseason he might have deserved but never smelled. While Fonzie knows from playoffs, his departure from New York after the 2002 season never sat well with good fans like us, even if we’ll admit under torture that it might have come at the right moment considering the direction his career — and the Met fortunes — would go since then. But as a right-handed bat on the bench? We’ll sign up for that, if and when the need arises.

And let’s suppose it does. Would Billy Wagner surrender No. 13? Or is he the jerk his former teammates say he is? Ironically, the Mets faced a similar quandary when Mazzilli returned 20 years ago: His familiar No. 16 at that point of course belonged to Dwight Gooden, so he foretold the future glories of Edgardo Alfonzo and suited up in 13. Wagner of course is no Doc.

Saturday’s disaster in Chicago resulted in a quick demotion for hard-throwing reliever Henry Owens 36. Taking his place in the bullpen is Heath Bell 19, recalled from Norfolk for the third time this season.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon

Up the Bannister

So the Mets yesterday interestingly if somewhat cruelly relegated Aaron Heilman to the bullpen and hope to make a 5th starter out of rookie Brian Bannister. The debate this raises, of course, is whether Bannister ought to also be afforded a dignified uniform number signifying his ascension. Bannister is wearing No. 61 currently. There are historical precedents for any outcome: When Dwight Gooden earned a roster spot in 1984, he went from 64 to 16; but when Eric Valent unexpectedly made the 2004 Mets, he kept his St. Lucified 57.

Should Bannister wish to pay tribute to his dad Floyd, a cursory check through the baseball cards reveals he wore Nos. 19 and 38 in his career: Neither is available except in the case Heath Bell fails to make the roster or is traded — both possibilities we’ve read in the last week. Perhaps too, numbers don’t matter particularly to Bannister: It appears he wore 25 in Binghamton and 43 at Norfolk; 17 with Team USA and oddly, 3 at USC.

In other news it appears that Anderson Hernandez 1 will get the starting job at second base: Whether he won a competition, or is there to stay, are matters of debate.

Turns out our efforts to confirm Jose Santiago’s uni number were worthless — it appears the Mets either never invited him back and/or actually did then quietly released him before the spring.

  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • StumbleUpon