Tag Archive for RA Dickey

Hat Trick

Once again the Mets have completely screwed up a golden opportunity to do the right thing by their fans, caving in to pressure from the Commissioner’s office to eschew wearing the city service agency hats honoring the 9/11 rescuers and victims and instead wearing league-approved gear adorned with a flag, as if that were even in the least bit appropriate given the alternative.

And in typical Met fashion, actors in the drama regardless of their actual degree of blame are scurrying from the scene, leaving those of us who actually care what happened as unsatisfied as ever. R.A. Dickey contends “they” (who?) confiscated the hats worn in pre-game ceremonies; David Wright says they didn’t. Josh Thole says the team was threatened with a fine; Joe Torre says they weren’t. The Wilpons say nothing.

I suppose I can guess what happened. Bud Selig was overly concerned about bruising the brand and ego of his official apparel provider, and as a result leaned on his debtor/friends, the Wilpons, to toe the line, which they did, never giving a second thought that by doing so they whizzed all over the tradition of their very organization, completely misread fan sentiment, and left anyone and everyone to hang out to dry, just as they did with their stupid stadium, the uniform, the Walter Read flap and dozens of other small crimes against love for this team.

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

A Tough Loss

Well this was a crazy week even by Mets standards, one that began on a promising note when R.A. Dickey shook off his own poor start, and pitched a scrappy overachieving team to a respectable .500 mark and an upset of the Yankees, and ended seven days later with the Mets just as embarrassing as ever, with Dickey on the way to the disabled list and the overachievers badly exposed.

In the middle of it all was Fred Wilpon, whose show of pathetic self-pity and delusion in the pages of The New Yorker seemingly sapped whatever energy the Mets had exhibited on their long journey back to .500. Poor Fred: Doesn’t matter who gets dragged through the mud in his rush to clear his name and prove his own ignorance, while at the same time he’s got his hand out for new investors so that he won’t be hurt by his money-losing Mets. Fred doesn’t appear to understand that he’s in the image business, or that players and fans will get along just fine were he not around, but we can hope that’s something David Einhorn will teach him the hard way.

Einhorn was a name Met fans had barely known before this morning though by the time this afternoon’s loss to the Cubs began most of us already knew the story of how the tiny Dave Kingman fan grew up to become one of the hottest and most feared sluggers in the hedge fund game. I’d be awfully suprised if he doesn’t wind up going Barbarians-at-the-Gate on his new partners before long. Wouldn’t you?

Sadly, this week also included the sudden death of Dana Brand, an intelligent, sentimental and friendly Mets fan who wrote about fandom with passion and insight in books and on-line and who was at work organizing a scholarly symposium to coincide with the team’s 50th anniversary next year. I’d spoken last to Dana only a few months back at the SABR meeting in New York, where the two of us shared a mutual anticipation that the Wilpons would go Chapter 11 at some point this year. Dana was a guy who clung hard to his fandom in such challenging times, who understood he could love the team in spite of its seeming indifference to fans, and it’s sad to lose him.

Please see Matt SilvermanGreg Prince and Steve Keane for their memories of Dana.

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

Terry Collins vs. History

Hello again from sole possession of 4th place. These banged-up replace-Mets are impressing me with their drive, even while disaster forever lurks nearby.

Longtime MBTN contributor Shorty in New Jerseydelivered the following awesomeness to the mailbox the other day. Check it out.

After his first seven games as the Mets’ manager, TERRY COLLINS’ record was 3 wins and 4 losses to show for it.  That matched exactly the entire Major League managerial career of MIKE CUBBAGE, who managed the Mets for seven games and went 3-4 in 1991.

After eleven games, Collins’ record was 4 wins and 7 losses.  This matched exactly the entire Mets managerial career of SALTY PARKER, who managed the Mets for eleven games and went 4-7 in 1967.  (He entire Major League managerial career record was 5-7 after he went 1-0 as the Astros’ manager in 1972.)

Next on the list would be ROY McMILLAN, who managed the Mets for 53 games in 1975 and had a record of 26-27.  Believe it or not, if the Mets go 5-5 over their next 10 games, Collins will match McMillan’s record exactly!

I don’t know about you, but given the 2011 Mets so far, 5-5 in their next 10 sounds like a pretty good bet, after which Collins will aim for and hopefully miss badly the managerial career of Frank Howard, who in 116 games managing the Mets won only 52 of them. For Terry’s crew to match that record, they’d need to stink up the joint to a record of 31-42 over their next 73.

I can’t think of a better way to prevent .425 baseball this summer than to see R.A. Dickey turn things around, and soon. Whether it’s his book deal and erudite interviews, his control of the knuckler, or what, he’s got to be better than the guy he’s pitching against for these Mets to win his games — the offense just isn’t there to take back all the leads than he’s surrendered. Tonight’s game at MFY Stadium is a big moment then for all of us, so Let’s Go Mets.

Meantime, I got another message from a reader named Josh, who’s looking for information on uni numbers for the Tidewater Tides, particularly in the Todd Hundley Era (early 1990s). If you can help Josh, feel free to write him at swishagency (at) gmail (dot) (com). Thanks in advance for the help!

I swiped the accompanying image from Mets Gazette, I think it lends an appropriate gravity to all that’s going on these days.

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

WTF Jerry

No shame in losing to Giants ace Tim Lincecum, but the way the Mets did it Thursday night should make you nuts. Their best shot to score, in the 5th inning, evaporated when Jerry Manuel asked pitcher R.A. Dickey to bunt with one out and runners on first and third — without sending the runner from third base. Dickey’s sacrifice was successful only in advancing the runner from first to second, but in the meantime costing the Mets half of their remaining shots to drive in a run, and all of them by way of an out. When Angel Pagan followed with a fly ball, a rally that started with two men on and nobody out amounted to nothing.

Dickey — whom I suspect was asked to bunt at least partly in punishment for failing to get one down earlier — worked seven strong innings before Manuel managed to use his three best non-closing relievers in the 8th to double a 1-0 deficit. Way to go.

I’m officially declaring No. 17 up for grabs again: Fernando Tatis was moved to the 60-day disabled list after shoulder surgery.

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

Meet the Dicks (part 1)

Sounds like there will be several moves to catch up on soon, when the Mets may or may not disable Luis Castillo; recall and assign numbers to outfielder Jesus Feliciano or infielder Justin Turner, decide on keeping Chris Carter around, and recall pitcher Jon Niese form the disabled list, perhaps while also succeeding in convincing Oliver Perez to take his act to Buffalo. Then there’s the issue of whether Bobby Parnell ought to be replacing the suddenly ineffective Raul Valdes orRyota Igarashi, who looks to me like the worst pitcher in the league about now. We will update as necessary.

Until then, let’s get excited for knuckler R.A. Dickey’s next start, and the beginning of a new homestand and the end of a road trip, with the first in a multi-part exclusive series at MBTN we’re calling Meet the Dicks. We are starting naturally with the Mets’ first ever Dick, Dick Smith.

* * *

Dick Smith was purchased by the Mets along with Norm Sherry from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization shortly after the end of the 1962 season. A fleet, righthanded hitting outfielder, Smith had been signed by the Dodgers as an amateur free agent out of Medford, Ore. in 1957 but had yet to reach the majors. He was a freeswinger with good power-speed potential: He’d hit 19 home runs, 18 doubles, 11 triples and stole 30 bases with Omaha of the American Association in 1962.

The Mets were in the midst of what would become a 22-game road losing streak when they recalled Smith from Class AAA Buffalo the following July. The team had lost patience waiting for the bat of shortstop Al Moran to come around and banished Moran to Buffalo and installed Larry Burright as the new regular shortstop. Smith was recalled to take Moran’s roster slot.

Smith was issued No. 16, a jersey that had until days before belonged to another new Met arrival,Jesse Gonder, who’d received it from the man he’d been traded for, Sammy Taylor. Gonder however switched to No. 12 concurrent with the recall of Smith.

Smith made his major league debut, and became the Mets’  first Dick, on July 18, 1963 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. Smith pinch hit for Al Jackson and fouled out behind first base: the opposing pitcher was none other than future Met (and future Met manager) Dallas Green. Smith appeared in another three games on that trip but after 10 days was returned to Buffalo when Moran was recalled. He wouldn’t collect his first hit until a return engagement in September, a single off Curt Simmons of St. Louis. He’d finish the year with a .238 batting average in 42 at-bats.

Smith caught the eye of Casey Stengel during the following spring training where he was “easily the fastest man ever to wear a Mets uniform” according to the Sporting News. Although primarily an outfielder, Stengel cleverly platooned Smith and Tim Harkness as leadoff-hitting first basemen. Smith in fact led off the first Mets game of 1964 vs. the Phillies’ Dennis Bennett, and played regularly at first base vs. lefties for most of the first two months of the year.

The highlight of this stretch came May 26 at Wrigley Field when Smith became the first Met in team history to record five hits in a game — three singles, a triple and a double — as the Mets whalloped the Cubs 19-1. However, Smith’s days were numbered once his platoonmate Harkness injured an elbow. His replacement was a prospect named Ed Kranepool, then viewed as a potential star and everyday player. Smith’s playing time grew sporadic and by July he was reassigned to AAA, never to return to the Mets. He hit .233 and his 6 stolen bases would tie for the club lead that year. He’d be traded back to the Dodgers following the season for a minor league lefty, Larry Miller, who’d play briefly for the Mets in 1965 and ’66. Smith got only 10 turns at bat with the Dodgers in ’65 before his big-league career was over.

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

When It’s Time to Change

Jon Niese was officially moved to the disabled list today to make room for R.A. Dickey, who pitched respectably before Jerry Manuel took the ball from his hands too soon and proceeded to manage the Mets out of yet another yet another winnable game.

I can barely watch anymore, yet we see it almost every night: The Mets get a leadoff runner and in an effort to choke dead whatever rally might come of it, Jerry foolishly orders someone to make an out on purpose, frequently removing an effective pitcher while doing so, reducing the number of shots to drive the guy in and asking the following batter, no matter how bad he’s struggling, to make something happen or bring real pressure on the guy following him. Once he’s turned the game inside-out to get that single run (if that), they’ve barely inched closer to victory since it’s now a question of whether the beleaguered bullpen, the same two guys whether they’re winning, losing or tied, can be nothing less than perfect or risk a humiliating fate. And since the bulletproof bullpen Jerry quixotically pursues exists mostly in theory and rarely in practice, the games are always too close and failures continue to pile up: They’re barely playing .250 ball on the road, and it’s a disgrace.

That Omar Minaya provided Manuel with too many offensive outmakers and a thin rotation shouldn’t sheild Jerry from taking a hit for this team’s failures. Those handicaps ought only to illustrate how counterproductive and foolish Jerry’s whole playing-not-to-lose approach is. The Mets aren’t good enough to try and win every game by one run and make outs on purpose, and it’s time the people in charge realized it.

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

Forty-Dickety-Three

43The bad luck and bad pitching that put the Mets in need of two new starters looks like this: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey takes Oliver Perez‘s scheduled start Wednesday, and on Friday, Hisanori Takahashi starts against the Yankees, fresh off a humiliating defeat of the Red Sox tonight. Dickey is en route from Class AAA Buffalo and according to reliable sources already has uni number assigned to him: 43. That number most recently belonged to reliever Brian Stokes. I’m cautiously hopeful that Dickey can beguile his opponents and terrified that Takahashi could see weeks of goodwill in a low-pressure mopup role unravel with a bad start against the Yankees. It’s a shame Dickey won’t have No. 49, which has become something of a symbol for knucklers dating back to Hoyt Wilhelm. The Mets’ last knuckleballer was Dennis Springer, No. 34 for a few ill-fated emergency appearances 10 years ago, as  recalled here.

Another reminder that tonight (Tuesday, May 18) is Amazin’ Tuesday, at a new venue, Two Boots Grand Central. We’ll have beer, pizza (The “Dave Schneck .199” is the special slice) and readings by me, Greg Prince of Faith & Fear in Flushing, Taryn Cooper (My Summer Family) and Josh Wilker, author of Cardboard Gods. I just finsihed CG myself and can tell you it’s excellent, a more focused delivery of the themes on his blog, telling a story of brotherly love, lonesomeness and the evocative power of Topps baseball cards in the 1970s. Josh will have books on hand to sell and sign, I strongly recommend you get a copy!

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

How About a Knuckle Sandwich

Only a few knuckleballers come around per generation, so I was pleased to learn the Mets were on the verge of signing one Tuesday. R.A. (Remarkable Athlete) Dickey has kicked around several organizations since first surfacing with Texas in 2001 and like many knuckleballers, developed the pitch only after his other stuff (including elbow ligaments) abandoned him.

Dennis Springer in '00: Get a Grip!The Mets’ have employed but two pure knuckleballers in their history. The first was righthanded reliever Bob Moorhead, who developed the delivery while on the road back to New York following a string of injuries (including, ironically, breaking two knuckles by punching a Sportsmans Park dugout door in frustration after a 1962 outing). Moorhead’s other distiction was having been the first relief pitcher ever called on in a Mets game. Moorhead wore 22 as a knuckleball dabbler in 1962 and 21 as a specialist in ’65. The Mets’ last pure knuckler, Dennis Springer, was released shortly after taking a pounding from the Reds on a frigid, wet, windy April evening at Shea in 2000. He wore No. 34.

Other Mets have included a knuckler as part of their repetoire, including relievers Jeff Innis (who threw his sidearm); Dave RobertsTom SturdivantFrank LaryWarren SpahnBob McClure and Todd Zeile, whose whole pitching career was something of a stunt. Dave Mlicki threw a knuckle curve.

The Mets for a time were developing potential knuckleball throwers in the minors. One, Zac Clements, was a converted catcher who appears to have topped out at AA Binghamton in 2006.Charlie Hough, a longtime knucleball hurler, was the Mets pitching coach in 2001 and 2002.

Dickey in the meantime only signed a minor league contract, and has had only sporadic success in the majors to recommend him, but I’l be rooting for him just the same. Knucklers of recent vintage including Tim Wakefield and Tom Candiotti wear No. 49 so as to honor Hoyt Wilhelm, one of the giants of the craft. The Mets’ current tenant of 49 is lefty Jon Niese.

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