REMEMBERING GARY CARTER

What a great touch last night by SNY to show Gary Carter’s first game as a Met ( a game I attended), opening day 1985. That game brought back a flood of memories about the era in Mets history and Carter’s legacy as a NY Met.

I was at Madison Square Garden on the night of December 10th , 1984 watching the NY Rangers play the LA Kings,  between periods I strolled down to the concourse to grab a beer (my drinking days) and call Sports Phone  (once upon a time this great new service came out called SportsPhone known by its great jingle  “get all the sports scores in-stan-leeee dial 976-1313) to get some out of town NHL and NBA scores (this was also my gambling days, oh and along with the beer in my hand and the phone receiver to my ear there was a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth, yes I’d indulged in all sorts of vice back in the day, that why I loved the 1970’s and 80’s) came a voice on the other end of the line telling me that the New York Mets have acquired Gary Carter from the Montreal Expos for Hubie Brooks, Mike Fitzgerald, Herm Winningham and Floyd Youmans. HOLLLLLLYYYYY SHIT!

As I made my way back up to Section 432, it seemed all the other degenerates checking scores and their bets, heard the Mets news as well as the Garden was buzzing. There was great debate amongst myself and my friends over this deal. At the time it looked like Frank Cashen gave up a King’s ransom for Carter. Brooks was coming off a nice season with 16HR and 73 RBI, Fitzgerald, Wininngham and Youmans were top prospects in what was at the time a fruitful Mets farm system, but hey we got Gary Carter, add him to Keith Hernandez and the two kids, Gooden and Strawberry and god damn, the Mets are going to kick some serious ass in 1984, and they did, going from 68-94 in 1983 to 90-72 in 1984 finishing 6 ½ games back of the division champion Chicago Cubs (somewhere in my basement is my florescent yellow CUBS BUSTERS t-shirt that had the bear cub in a circle with a red line through it, yeah baby THE MAGIC WAS BACK AT SHEA)

So many on the field memories, pop into my head when thinking of Gary Carter but so do many off the field ones as well.

I got married in 1986 (same year I dropped two bad habits, gambling and smoking, drinking would come ten years later) the last of four kids to leave the nice secure nest my parent had made for us. Most weeknights, I’d come from work have dinner with my parents (dinner always on the table when I got home, told you it tough leaving my happy habitat) and afterwards, head to the living room with my dad to watch Mets baseball.  My mother, a woman surrounded by sons, nephews and cousins who were sports fanatics, a woman who washed more uniforms than any clubhouse person, never cared for sports, that is until I move out of the house. The sight of my old man sitting with no one to talk about the games with, she decided it was time to take up watching sports particularly Mets baseball.  Not only did she start watching Mets games, she now wanted to go to Mets games, WHAT? “Ma, you want to go to Shea”  “Oh yes, I want to go see Gary Carter” So we took her to see “her guy” Gary Carter.

I thought about that all the way on my commute home last night, then I listened to all the tributes for Carter and I really felt overwhelmed, Gary Carter was much more than a baseball player, he was as inspirational as anyone who has ever hit this city. To hear Keith Hernandez weep when talking about Carter was heartbreaking. Listening to Ron Darling speak of Carter you could tell he held him in such high regard. Then I heard Doc Gooden, who told the story of how Carter would come to the Smithers Institute where he was residing to combat his drug and alcohol addiction, on Sunday’s after home games to make sure Gooden was okay. Strawberry may have given Carter the best compliment anyone can give to another human being when he said that Carter “lived his life the way I wish I could have”.

Carter was at times mocked for his goody-goody ways, which some felt were phony but as they got to know him they found out his love of family, baseball and God was genuine. I found it stunning that those four players who played hard and partied even harder in their youth and would ridicule Carter for his clean living ways back then, now in their middle age wish they could have had the life that Gary Carter had. Don’t you wish we all could be remembered that way?

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THERE’S A PLACE CALLED HOPE AND IT’S IN QUEENS

First things first, my condolences to Dan Werthen  and his family for the loss of his brother, and prayers and good thought to Angel Pagan and his family as his daughter undergoes eye surgery.

Unlike this time last year, this playing out the schedule is not as depressing as last season. Mostly due to the young players who have shown promise and the win last night was an example of that. I loved how Keith Hernandez reacted to Gary Cohen’ query to whether the Mets should but on the suicide squeeze with Ruben Tejada at bat. Mex’ voice went up a couple of octaves when he answered “Why? Let him swing the bat” Hernandez then tried as delicately as he could to hint that these games men nothing but the fact that you can see what guys like Tejada and the other young’ens can do in a big spot. Tejada did swing the bat to the tune of a game winning double and for a guy who struggled at the plate it was a great reward for his perseverance.

The TV guys were also a bit critical of Jerry Manuel for lifting Big Pelf in the 8th with one out and one on and the score 2-1. It’s nice that Manuel is still managing like these games mean something but moves like that seem to me selfish on Manuel part, like he’s trying to prove a point that he can still manage even though he knows that Sunday is his last game as Mets manager. I would have loved to see Big Pelf work out of that situation.

As I opened with last night on my THIS CALL TO THE BULLPEN RADIO SHOW, I watched the first hour of Ken Burns’ sequel to great BASEBALL nine part series, The Tenth Inning and found it disappointing. I would have loved to see more on the Montreal Expos, it would have been nice to get more in depth on the situation that led to the Expos leaving Montreal for DC.  The other gripe I have with the program is the timing of airing it the last week of baseball’s regular season.  The perfect time to schedule this program would be in February or March when we need to get our baseball fix.  I think that’s the reason I couldn’t get into the show last night as I kept wanting to checkout what the Mets, Highlanders, Rays and Reds were doing.

I have a bad feeling about Carlos Beltran’ right knee now that he was removed from last night’s game. Beltran is scheduled to go for an MRI this morning and hopefully he is on the same page with management on this doctor’s trip.

Today’s first game of the Mets-Brewski’s double dip is sponsored by Rosita’s Brazilian Hot Wax, today’s  matchup is Bush vs. Dickey,

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AUGUST 4, 1975: WHAT THE HELL WAS YOGI BERRA THINKING ?

After a day of trudging through the snow, slush and ice of the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan, little did I know what a wonderful reward was waiting for me when I got home, SNY was showing the 1975 Mets Yearbook and a name from the past that only Mets fans of a certain era would know, Randy Tate was the star of the show.

What you don’t remember or never heard of Randy Tate? Don’t worry you’re not alone. I vaguely remember Tate and for good reason, he not only had just one season in Flushing but that one year been the extend of his big league career.

On the night of August 4, 1975, Randall Lee Tate of Florence Alabama came close to becoming the first Mets pitcher to hurl a no hitter. As we all know, the Mets have not had a pitcher throw a no hitter in their history, but Randy Tate joins the ranks of those who came close, as Tate held the Montreal Expos hitless for  7 innings and the Mets held a 3-0 lead. Tate was dominating through 7 as he K’d 10 and walked 4 which for Tate was a great ratio as his season tally of BB/K was 86/99 in 137.2 IP. Tate came into the game with a 4-9 record after his last start against the Cardinals that lasted just 1.2 innings and got his tits lit for 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks. Tate was a back end of the rotation guy, along with Hank Webb. The front end of the staff by the way was 22 game winner Tom Seaver along with Jerry Koosman and Jonathan Trumpbour Matlack.

The Mets scored all of their runs in the 5th inning of this game as Jerry Grote singled and went to second base on a wild pitch by Expos starter Dan Warthen (Yes, our own pitching coach Old School Dan Warthen) The 8 hole batter, Jack Heidemann (what a head of hair Heidemann had back then) walked. Randy Tate then tried to lay down a sac bunt but he bunted right at Old School Warthen who wheeled and threw to Larry Parrish at third to force out Grote. Gene Clines the Mets centerfielder and lead off man stepped up and hit a triple down the right field line that scored Heidemann and Tate. Second baseman Felix Milan hit a ball down to first base that Mike Jorgensen misplayed and Milan was safe and Clines scored the third run of the inning and the game. Jesus Alou flied out to left field and the inning was over.

Tate was strong through six but in the seventh inning he started to show signs of fatigue. He walked rookie catcher Gary Carter and Parrish but was helped out by two force plays and a key strikeout of 2B Pete Mackanin .

Now remember, the manager of the Mets at this time was one Lawrence Peter Berra, who was hanging on to his job by a bare thread. Berra was not very popular in the clubhouse especially by his pitchers as he had never lived down not going with a rested George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series with the Mets up 3game to 2 over the A’s but making a bad move by going with Tom Seaver on 3 days rest and then going with Jon Matlack on 3 days rest when he could have had both his pitchers on 4 days rest in case of a game 7.

The Mets go down in order in the bottom of the 7th with Tate making the last out. On to the top of the 8th.

Expos manager, Gene Mauch goes right to his bench as he sends up Jose Morales to hit for Pepe Frias. Tate K’s Morales. Jim Lyttle now comes up to bat for pitcher, the pride of Glen Cove LI, Don DeMola. You’d have to figure that Tate was getting a bit weary on the mound. I don’t know what the weather was that night but August nights in NYC are usually warm and humid and Tate had thrown just an average of 4.2 IP in his last five starts but Tate was just 5 outs away from becoming the first Mets pitcher to toss a no hitter, but first he would have to get Lyttle out.

There weren’t many people at Shea that night as the paid attendance of 10, 720 shows but you can bet they were making as much noise as if the place were packed. That was one thing about Shea when the die hards hung around they were a noisy bunch. I can imagine the clapping and cheering as Lyttle stepped into the batters box to face Tate.

All the clapping and cheering turn to moans and groans on one pitch that Lyttle connected with to singled to left field to break up the no-hitter and spoil the greatest day Randy Tate ever had as a major league pitcher. Now that the no hitter was by the boards, it was time to concentrate on winning the game.

You’d have to think that Yogi Berra would have his bullpen up and have a fresh arm ready to close out the last five outs and preserve the win. Well, Tate stayed in the game and then walked the next batter Pepe Mangual to bring the tying run to the plate and still no movement from the manager. Tate then gave Berra a false sense of security by striking out Jim Dwyer, so with two out and one on up stepped Gary Carter, rookie Gary Carter. Again no change in pitcher and Tate is now up into the high 120’s in his pitch count as he gives up a single to Carter that plates Lyttle to make it 3-1 Mets. So the no-no and the shutout are gone and the go ahead run in former Met Mike Jorgensen is strolling to home plate. Still no pitching change by Yogi Berra.

I would love to know what was being said in the Mets dugout as this was playing out on the field. Rube Walker was still on staff as pitching coach and of course Tom Seaver was there as well. I can’t believe that Walker wasn’t looking to get his pitcher out of the game and get a new arm in the game, just from reading the play by play of this game I’m breaking out in a cold sweat.

Now remember Jorgensen was shipped out by the Mets to Montreal along with Ken Singleton and Crazy Horse Foli for Rusty Staub , no doubt he wanted to make his ex-team suffer and sure enough he did by hitting a 3 run home run to put the Expos ahead 4-3.

What in the world was Yogi thinking of not going to the bullpen? Tate had to be on fumes at this point in the game so it seems unless his arm fell off Tate was not coming out this game. Thankfully he got Larry Bitinger ot ground out to end this excruciatingly painful inning. Tate lost his no hitter, shutout and game and maybe his career in this 8th inning. Sad.

The Mets went down without a fight in the 8th and 9th and what could you expect as their manager showed no leadership in this game.

The next day the Mets and Expos played a twi-night double header and the Expos won both games by identical 7-0 scores, after the game, GM Joe McDonald (on orders I’d imagine from M .Donald Grant ) fired Yogi Berra and named Roy McMillan the interim manager. For Randy Tate, the change of manager came a day to late.

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THE MIRACLE HAS LANDED: THE AMAZIN’ STORY OF HOW THE 1969 METS SHOCKED THE WORLD

Even me, the Mets fan Prince of Darkness, has to take a step back sometimes to remember when the Mets ruled the baseball roost in these parts and one way to put a smile on a Mets fan’ face is to say “1969”

Ahhhhhhh yes, The Amazin’ Mets of 1969. Last summer the lone bright spot at $iti Field was the celebration of the World Champion Mets of that year and just to see all those players back together again was thrilling and exhilarating, but as I looked around at the faces of some of the fans in attendance that night, I saw a lot Mets fans who really have no connection to this team because (gasp!!!) they were to young to witness this great accomplishment.

There were 30 year old Mets fans with their children there who like their kids,  had no real attachment to this team. They never saw the black cat run by the Cubs dugout and look right at Leo Durcocher as if to say, “it’s all over Leo, surrender is near”, or cried themselves to sleep after watching Tom Seaver lose his Perfect game to a Jimmy Qualis single in the 9th inning. No cable TV, no 24-HR sports talk radio just the Daily News, NY Post (the essential newspaper for the West Cost scores as the Post was an afternoon paper in those days) and of course WOR  to find all our Mets information.

When I’m asked about that ’69 season I remember those events I’ve mentioned plus things like Opening Day, a game that featured the Mets against the brand spanking new Montreal Expos team staring Mack Jones, Adolfo Philips and a young Le Grande Orange and the Mets losing 11-10, a  9th inning rally falling short.

Now I know there are some of you who also remember that year as vividly as I do and would love to relive that season and then there are a good number of you who wish you could find out more of what it was like that season. That’s why the book The Miracle Has Landed is an essential book to add to your Mets and baseball book collection.

Matthew Silverman and Ken Samelson have done a fabulous job of getting a collection of writers together to compile essay’s on the players of the ’69 Mets, the front office, the broadcasters, the owner (bow your heads)  Mrs. Joan Payson and Manager Gil Hodges and his coaching staff (Where have you gone Rube Walker ? Mets pitchers turn their lonely pitching arms to you) and my favorite chapter on Mets scout Red Murff, who should be in the Mets Hall of Fame (if they ever build one)  Murff was the scout who signed Jerry Koosman, Jerry Grote, Ken Boswell and a kid out of Alvin Texas named Nolan Ryan (to name a few)

Do yourself a favor, don’t wait for someone to get you this book for Hanukah, Christmas, Festivus or whatever holiday you celebrate buy this for yourself as a Mets fan you will cherish this book and read it from cover to cover and in these dire uninspiring times as a Mets fans, The Miracle Has Landed will make you proud to be a Mets fan again.

The Miracle Has Landed is published by Maple Street Press in conjunction with The Society of American Baseball Research

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DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT HIS-TORY, DON’T KNOW MUCH BI-OLOGY…..

The less said about yesterday’s game the better. Do I think Johan Santana is of sound body? HELL NO! Santana was asked if his problems of late are physical and he said no.  When asked a second time he said no, by the fourth or fifth time he finally broke down that he had an issue with his back that Bobby Ojeda said could have forced him to alter his delivery. Then there is the issue of his decrease in velocity and the question of whether Santana has a tired arm or (gulp!!!!!!) the dread DEAD ARM!!!.

Santana can claim he is fit to fight all he wants but why do I have a feeling he might accompany Gary Sheffield to New York Hospital for a special 2 for1 on MRI’s?    

 

 

This Date in Mets History, in 1969, Donn Clenedenon after turning down a trade from the expansion Montreal Expos to the Houston Astros, agreed to be traded to the New York Mets. Clink went on to be the 1969 World Series MVP

This Date in Mets History in 1983, The St. Louis Cardinals sent Keith Hernandez to the New York Mets after Mgr. Whitey Herzog had had enough of Hernandez and to teach him a lesson he was sent to the woebegon Mets. Hernandez who at first was miserable to be sent to NYC became the Captain of the Mets and lead the team to World Series Championship in 1986 and has become one of the most popular Mets of all time.

 

 

On This Date in Mets History in 1977 it was the Day The Music Died as The Franchise George Thomas Seaver, still the greatest player to ever wear a Mets uniform was sent to the Cincinnati Reds run out of town by to of the biggest scumbags to ever walk the earth in M. Donald Grant and Daily News baseball writer Dick Young. Seaver was and still is considered THE FRANCHISE and should have a staute of his famous pitching delivery outside of Ebbits$iti Field. Today Seaver, is a successful wine producer and Grant and Young are still burning in hell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Bill Wags rehabing from Tommy John surgery, Ollie Perez in la la land and with sore knee, John Maine with dead arm and now questions about Johan Santana’s health do you think Rick Peterson is getting a good laugh and maybe some vindication?

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