Tag Archive for Darryl Strawberry

The Name of the Game

As disappointed as we all are to learn the start of the baseball season has been delayed as part of the economic wreckage of incompetent U.S. preparedness for the coronavirus, perhaps there’s a silver lining in not immediately experiencing how dumb it’s going to be when new rules requiring relief pitchers throw to at least three batters takes effect. And the March 26 opening date seemed obscenely early anyway. I don’t often bother to show up in Flushing until May, given that place is guaranteed to be 20 degrees colder and twice as damp as anywhere else in the five boroughs, but let’s hope they get it going by then.

How are we going to pass the time though? I’d been suffering through the Islanders season and now that’s done too. So we’re rewatching The Wire on the stream, and reading some books.

Around here we care primarily about the number on the back of the jersey but much of what needs to be said about the letters above them is addressed with wit, insight and just the right mix of respect and humor in HALL OF NAME, a new book coming out any day now from D.B. Firstman.

I’ve known D.B. primarily through SABR and the Twitterverse for some time now, and they were gracious to offer an early copy, which I’d been eating piecemeal for a few weeks.

That’s in fact one of the cool things about this book: You can open it to any of its 312 pages and find something fun and interesting. The book includes short biographies, trivial facts, anagrams and vague sound-alikes for 100 of baseball’s “most magnificent monikers” from Boof Bonzer to Coco Crisp to Joe Zdeb.

Even more precisely than numbers, D.B. notes, names lend a uniqueness to the game’s characters that’s part of the fun; but what I enjoyed the most was the revelation of a little bit more than just the stats accompanying those names that would make you briefly pause and admire while thumbing through the Baseball Encyclopedia (Rivington Bisland, Jennings Poindexter, Orval Overall); uncommon commons revealed in a pack of Topps cards (Mark Lemongello, Greg Legg, Biff Pocoroba); or references that never fail to elicit a giggle (Johnny Dickshot, Rusty Kuntz, and Pete LaCock, the latter all lovingly written up in a section helpfully called DIRTY NAMES DONE DIRT CHEAP).

There’s a little Met content too, with J.J. Putz, Lastings Milledge, Angel Pagan, Razor Shines, Ambiorix Burgos and Xavier Nady among those featured.

You’re stuck at home with no baseball? Go out and get a copy or have your bookstore deliver one, like I said it’ll be out any day now. And in honor of the book’s publishing, here’s my list of the Mets All-Time Name Team. They may not win much, but you’ll never forget them:

1B: Marv Throneberry

2B: Chin-lung Hu

3B: Pumpsie Green

SS: Adeiny Hechavaria

OF: Darryl Strawberry, Don Hahn, Prentice Redman

C: Greg Goosen, Taylor Teagarden

P: Wally Whitehurst, Ken MacKenzie, Vinegar Bend Mizell, Patrick Strange, Bartolome Fortunato, Roadblock Jones, Al Schmelz

How are you going to make it through? Who makes your all-name club?

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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.

 

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I’m 18 and I like it

It’s crazy and just about as accomplished but Mets By The Numbers has now had a career as long as Ed Kranepool: Eighteen years.

The site went “live” for the first time on Feb. 22, 1999. It wasn’t a “blog” then as such a thing didn’t really exist, but a website with a “home page” that was updated as needed, with stuff deleted as time permitted, which I guess is one reason why the earliest front-page updates I can find for it date only to the failed Barry Larkin trade of 2000, although I uncovered an early cry for help archived from October of 1999.

Anyway, we’re as pleased to be 18 as the protagonist in the Alice Cooper song, or Darryl Strawberry in 1983, or maybe, Darryl Hamilton in 1999. Fun Fact: 100% of the Mets’ Darryls have worn No. 18. Darrells (Ceciliani, Sutherland) are another story entirely.

Real quickly, the most Metly 18s in club history:

1 Darryl Strawberry: I used to wonder what it was about Yankee fans who grew up the 1950s and 60s that made them so obsessive about Mickey Mantle and then I met Strawberry and became one of them. He can still be a Daaaryl sometimes but he meant a lot.

2 Joel Youngblood: Terrific athlete who never found a home on the field. Darryl’s predecessor.

3 Art Howe: Luckless and dull caretaker of a manager astonishingly described as having “lit up the room” in an interview to replace Bobby Valentine. Right, Fred.

4. Felix Mantilla: Arguably the best player on the 1962 Mets which sounds like a kind of feint praise.

5. Moises Alou: Incredible hitter when healthy, never healthy.

6. Marlon Anderson: The best of his three numbers was 18, wore it for his famous inside-the-park home run.

7. Benny Ayala: Home run in first at-bat, of course

8. Bret Saberhagen: He’d have more success wearing 17.

9. Takashi Kashiwada: First Japan-born Met. I associate him with a photo playing in the “ice cream man” white hat.

10. Jeff McKnight. Because, Jeff McKnight.

 

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This One Doesn’t Go to 11

11So sure enough opening night there was Tim Teufel, “along the lines at third” and wearing No. 11, shedding the No. 18 he’d worn he’d worn as a Mets coach since 2012.

Teufel as we know spent more than five years as Mets player wearing No. 11. And though 18 was never a good fit for him (it belonged during parts of his tenure to Darryl Strawberry, who according to reports cruelly tormented Teufel while they were Mets teammates) his retaking No. 11 represents something of a break with tradition too. Teufel is not only the first coach or manager ever to wear 11 but his occupation of it denies the jersey its distinguishing element: No number has appeared in as many games as No. 11 — 4,442 regular-season games through 2015, or nearly 52% of every Mets regular-season game ever. And until this year, only four seasons since the founding of the Mets have gone without at least one player appearing in No. 11 — 1967, 1968, 1997, and 2002.

No. 7 (4,273 games) and No. 5 (4,208) are the next-most frequently employed jerseys in game action for the Mets but each are more than a full season behind even as they maintain compilers in Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright, respectively.

34Guys I’m sorry to have discovered all my fears of a lackluster spring training play out in front of us on opening night. As I write a few hours before Game 2 I’m thinking we have an obligation to make a statement and an ideal opportunity as well: They’re starting a right-handed slowballer, and we have Noah Syndergaard. And while any victory is acceptable, I’d really like to Mets to find out which of the Royals reserve infielders can also pitch.

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Flying Coach

That’s what we did to and from Hawaii and now I’m back. Mets coaches in the meantime are busy flying into new and kinda weird unis, as you guys were astutely noting below.

Hitting coach Dave Hudgens, whose No. 52 went to new reliever Ramon Ramirez, dropped a digit and is now wearing No. 51. First base coach Tom Goodwin has been assigned No. 26 and bullpen coach Ricky Bones takes 25. Tim Teufel, the new third-base coach, is wearing 18 for some reason (an homage to his tormentor and former teammate Darryl Strawberry?) and in a move generating some controversy, new bench coach Bob Geren becomes the first man assigned Jose Reyes’ former No. 7.

Now if were up to me I wouldn’t have given away 7 to just anyone — I was hoping a guy like Reese Havens might be next — but if you want to look for something significant about Geren there’s this: The number with which he has the most equity isn’t 7 but 17: That’s what he wore as as manager of the A’s (and also as a player with the Padres). Considering 17 was also theoretically available for these Mets, its another indication that the organization appears to have turned the corner on Keith Hernandez. That number isn’t going anywhere. No. 8 in the meantime is making a return as a jersey patch honoring Gary Carter, as seen above. Looks nice.

Finally a note on Tom Goodwin. As he explains in this article, Goodwin was one of those players who was wearing 42 as a tribute to Jackie Robinson but was not grandfathered in when Bud Selig made a show of retiring his number leaguewide in 1998. Thanks to EdgyDC for unearthing that.

Meantime, batting practice pitcher Eric Langill and bullpen coach Dave Racianello, previously listed as wearing 53 and 54 respectively, have been reassigned 78 and 79, respectively.

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Strawberry Fields Forever

Terry Collins pretty much spoiled the idea of returning to wear No. 1 once he invoked the name of Jim Leland, but it doesn’t mean Luis Castillo is in the clear yet. Newspapers last week were speculating that Mookie Wilson would be named to fill the vacant first-base coaching job — and maintain the proper quota of 1986 laborers in continuing employ with the Mets as stipulated in a secret contract somewhere.

No seriously, Mookie’s a perfect guy for the job — let’s face it, Mookie’s perfect for about any job — so let’s hope it happens, and happens in his customary No. 1. Though real Mookologists know he wore another number — 51 — during his first tenure as a first-base coach under Bobby Valentine in 1997, accommodating Lance Johnson at least until Johnson was traded to the Cubs that August. The Met Braintrust also intends to name an outside choice as hitting coach, a good idea since the Mets have never really developed any hitters of their own beyond David Wright, who already has a job, and, of course,  my close personal friend Darryl Strawberry.

Darryl you might know has a new restaurant out in Douglaston, which was where I ran into him a few weeks ago. Literally: I exited the Men’s room and there he was across the narrow hallway at the entrance to the kitchen. Though I was expecting a destination type place typical of jock establishments, Strawberry’s Sports Grill is really a neighborhood joint on a deadend street across from a LIRR station in bucolic Douglaston, itself resembling a North Shore Nassau County town. It’s loaded with memorabilia from Straw’s career including the Mets locker pictured above but plenty of Yankee stuff from his time there. I guess that’s just a business decision. Times are tough in the restaurant business these days.

The wings were sports-bar acceptable, the “1961” burger was pretty good despite the Yankee affiliation, and the bartender was terrific. But our server was kinda slow and surly if you want to know the truth. Some locals mentioned that the site had been though several incarnations before Darryl took the reigns, and if I weren’t terrified and stammering idiotic things like “Thanks!” over and over again to him during our brief meeting, I’d probably mention it to him — that and get him to remark on the significance of No. 18. I had a chance to touch the man’s shoulder as I turned him for the photo (thanks Greg!) and can report it’s massive and as firm as a car seat.

In summary, Darryl’s not the next hitting coach even though he’s a former 1986er, and you should get a beer and a burger at Strawberry’s while it’s still standing.

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Torve Jackpot! Fight Night in Photos

You may have seen a few posts back the exclusive interview with Kelvin Torve, whose “accidental” issue of the 24 jersey in 1990 caused a minor stir among Met fans and a major event in team history when viewed through the numeric prism. Photographic evidence of the event was difficult to come by, to say the least — even a thorough re-examination of Mets Inside Pitch issues from 1990 produced nothing.

That was before MBTN user TommieCleon (aka Paul C) stepped up to the plate, and just like Kelvin Torve on Aug. 9, 1990, smashed one off the wall. Pictured Torve slams a double to the gaphere are videocaps from that historic occassion — not only one of the few games Torve spent wearing No. 24, and not only his best moment — his pinch double drove in 2 runs including the game-winner and made him a hero — but for the lengthy, violent, bench-clearing brawl that occurred only an inning before.

The brawl was precipitated when Phillies pitcher Pat Combs returned fire to Dwight Gooden, then hitting. Gooden earlier in the game had hit Phillies Dickie Thon and Tommy Herr with pitches. Tension between the Mets and Phillies had dated to a year before when Darryl Strawberry and Darren Daulton tangled.

standing at secondGooden charged Combs after the pitch struck him in the leg in the 5th inning. “You go with your first reaction and mine was to get him,” Gooden later recounted. The ensuing melee, a “Pier 6 Brawl” as Bob Murphy might describe it, lasted nine minutes and halted play for 20. Strawberry went after Daulton but was interrupted by Von Hayes and they went at it. An obscure Phillie reliever we’d come to know, Dennis Cook, was yanked from the pack and thrown to the ground by umpire Joe West, and then he really got mad. Met outfielder Kevin McReynolds wrenched his back in the scrum. In all six players (Strawberry, Gooden and Tim Teufel for the Mets; and Combs, Daulton and Cook for the Phils) were ejected, along with Phillies bullpen coach Mike Ryan.

Dwight Gooden: "My first reaction was to get him."Expect this game to be referenced often as talk heats up of the Mets and Phillies renewing hostilities this season.

As for Torve’s role in the number controversy, Paul has this to say:

Based on materials in the public record concerning the Mets issuance of uniform #24, I think that present management is not inclined to retire the number. Of course, this is somewhat obvious based on the simple fact that the Wilpons still haven’t retired the number in the almost 30 years that they’ve owned the ballclub. Still, Kelvin Torve might have been a guinea pig in a calculated ploy to gauge public sentiment over the reissuance of #24. Perhaps there is a better explanation for Torve Dwight throws a right on fight nightas #24, but to me, the notion that either Charlie Samuels or Met management forgot about the significance of reissuing the number is simply implausible, no matter how momentary this alleged lapse in memory was.

The Mets solution to this uni controversy appears to be a compromise; keeping the uniform mostly in limbo is consistent with their own view against retiring the number. By allowing the uni to be reissued to a special player, (e.g. Rickey Henderson, a first ballot HOF’er and one of the two or three dozen best players of all-time), Met brass appears to be minimizing instances of fan disappointment. After all, one would think that the benefits of acquiring that special player would outweigh whatever negativity might arise from having that player wear #24.

Keith Miller is the first to arrive as Gooden gets double-teamed. Good wheels, Keith!As you admire this awesome collection of historic Met bloodshed which Paul was cool enough to provide, give some thought to his points above: What should the Mets do with 24? How cool was this brawl? And how awesome do the numbers look without the awful drop shadow?

Comments below!

Kruk can't hold back Strawberry...

 

 

 

 

 

...But Von Hayes can, for now...

 

 

 

 

 

Handicap match for Strawberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you mean my haircut sucks?!?

 

 

 

 

 

Nine minutes, 6 ejections and a guy wearing 24

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Daulton arrives at the Gooden-Combs match

 

 

 

 

 

Daulton throws a right: But who's brain-damaged now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

That's Dave Magadan amid burgandy Ponys and Reeboks

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psycho reliever Dennis Cook tangles with umpire Joe West

 

 

 

 

 

Gooden's plunk of Tommy Herr sparked Philly retaliation

 

 

 

 

 

The scoreboard tells of the aftermath

 

 

 

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