Cubs Get Shut Out 4-0 by Braves; 6-7 for Early Start

wrigley field

By Richard Kagan

This blog isn’t about stats.  It could be. The Cubs haven’t gotten it done after 13 games and they sit at 6-7 after a 4-0 drubbing by Atlanta. The Cubs managed only four base hits.  About 30,00 people turned out to see a desultory effort by the Cubbies.  What gives?

One game they look like contenders, the next game they look like retirees in rocking chairs, nodding off to the sun.

It looks like the Cubs haven’t started the season yet. I don’t know why but more importantly, it appears they don’t know why. I don’t know what it’s going to take. Maybe having Anthony Rizzo back in the field in what this team needs. Maybe the players miss their de facto captain. I am sure Rizzo wants to get out there.  He won’t be playing until Monday.

All I know is that they made the pitcher out there today for the Braves look like the second coming of Greg Maddox. But this guy threw harder. The Cubs didn’t strike out a lot. At least last time I looked in the 7th inning, they had six KO’s.  I know the pitcher struck out 7 hitters.

This team has not come to play at the park every day. Imagine being out there in the nippy climes with the wind blowing in. Maybe it would be a better idea to watch a good movie on cable instead.

These guys are talented. We all know that. The hitters aren’t consistent and the pitching so far has been meh. The Cubs spent all this money on Yu Darvish and he comes up short in his first home start as a Cub.

When you’re bad you’re bad and right now, this team is not playing well.

There are two more games on this first home stand of the season. Tomorrow Jose Quintana goes to the mound in hopes of getting the W.

All we can do is try to stay positive, have more faith, and wait.  As Cub fans, we’re experienced at doing that.

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Bruce and Mets Slam Nationals, 8-2

By Paul DiSclafani

Clinging to a 4-2 lead against the Nationals in the bottom of the sixth, thanks to home runs from Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom issued consecutive 4-pitch walks to load the bases with no outs. As the Home Opening Day crowd reached a fevered pitch, deGrom circled the mound, stepped on the rubber and had to go to work.

Because deGrom was cruising to that point, (seven straight outs, 1 earned run and just four hits in five innings), new manager Mickey Calloway didn’t have anyone warming up in the bullpen, so deGrom know it was his mess and he’d have to clean it up. DeGrom got a strike on Ryan Zimmerman before he hit a lazy fly ball to short right for the first out that was too shallow to score a run.  Then Kyle Kendrick hit a liner to short that Jose Reyes snagged for the second out.  With Trey Turner standing in the way of getting out of a sticky situation, deGrom got him to swing and miss twice to get ahead 0-2, once on a fastball and then on a slider away.  Then he got a generous call strike three on a high and away fastball to finish the inning that Turner vehemently disagreed with, resulting in him getting ejected.

DeGrom (W, 2-0) worked out of his own mess to keep it a 4-2 lead. Jay Bruce then blasted a Grand Slam the next inning and the Mets (5-1) take the first game of this early series against the Nationals (4-3), 8-2.  In a long baseball season, one game doesn’t define a season, but the Mets certainly drew first blood in their desire to let the Nationals (and the rest of the National League) know that this season is going to be different.

Both teams traded runs in bizarre fashion as the Nats scored in the first inning on an error by Bruce to take a 1-0 lead. The Mets followed by scoring on a balk by starter Stephen Strasberg, the first balk he has committed since 2013.

Down 2-1, Cespedes tied the game in the fourth with his third HR of the season, a laser beam to left field. That seemed to allow deGrom to focus as he got seven straight Nationals before his meltdown in the sixth.  But by that time, Conforto had put the Mets ahead 4-2 with a 2-run home run in the fifth.  The ball, original ruled a double, was reviewed and correctly called a home run as it cleared the left field wall.

Strasberg (L, 1-1), who was gone after six innings, was charged with four runs on five hits and six strikeouts, watched in earnest as his relief, Brandon Kintzler, ran into trouble in the seventh. With one out, Brandon Nimmo came off the bench and delivered a double off the wall in right.  Conforto reached on a four pitch walk, but Kintzler got Asdrubal Cabrera to look at strike three for the second out.  He then got ahead of Cespedes 1-2, but he worked out a walk to load the bases, bringing up Bruce.  Once again, Kintzler got ahead, this time sneaking two fastballs past Bruce without a swing.  But Bruce worked the count to 3-2 before depositing a sinker to deep right-center for his first home run of the year and his sixth career Grand Slam, giving the Mets an 8-2 lead.

Today, the Mets were able to punch the bully in the mouth and get away with it. Let’s see if they can keep it up.

Friday is a scheduled off day, but the weather reports for Saturday in the Nation’s Capital are not promising with snow and rain approaching. Steven Matz (0-1, 6.75) is scheduled to take on Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 1.50) in the afternoon.  Sunday is a night game, with Matt Harvey (0-0) against Tanner Roark (1-0).

POSITIVES: Mets win their first road game of the season after a terrible 2017 on the road (33-48) … deGrom improved to 14-8 in Day Games … Mets have won three straight … Conforto hadn’t had an AB since last August.  He scored twice and hit an opposite field HR … Cespedes (3 HR) has 7 RBI in 5 games … Bullpen put up three more innings without a run, allowing just 2 hits and six more strikeouts … Hansel Robles gave up a double in his second appearance, but recorded three more strikeouts.  He’s struck out six of the seven batters he’s faced … Nimmo came off the bench with a pinch hit double

NEGATIVES: Todd Frazier went 0-4 and his average dropped to .190 … Jose Reyes went 0-4 and is still looking for his first hit of the season (0-7).  He made the Mets first error of the season yesterday and misfired on a relay throw that could have nailed a runner at the plate.  He looks old …

Mets vs Nats – Let’s Get It On!

By Paul DiSclafani

It’s never too early in the season to face a challenge head on, and just five games into the 2018 Campaign, the Mets (4-1) face their first serious challenge – the dreaded Washington Nationals (4-2).  Over the next 12 games, the Mets and Nationals will go head-to-head six times, completing 1/3 of their regular season meetings before we even get to Tax Day.  The next time these teams are scheduled to play again will be the last weekend before the All-Star break.

A lot can happen in three months, so that makes these two series more than just games on the schedule.  If the Mets want to take their pre-season hype and early season success seriously, they have to give the Nationals a run for their money.  You always need to play well against the team you are challenging if you want to get to the top of the hill.  Calling the big bully names and saying you are better means nothing if during a confrontation they squash you like a bug.

In 1969, it was the Chicago Cubs coming to town in early September for a 2-game series.  The Mets had pared down their 8-game NL East lead to just 2 and 1/2 games.  Leading 2-1 in the ninth inning of the first game, Cubs centerfielder Don Young misplayed two balls, leading to two Mets runs and a 4-3 win.  The next night, with Ron Santo in the on-deck circle, a mysterious black cat came out of the stands and passed in front of Santo and the entire Cubs bench.  The Mets won the game 7-1 to pull within a half-game of the Division lead and the cursed Cubs would never recover.

In 1986, after losing two of three to start the season, the Mets swept a five-game series at home against Pittsburgh and took their 7-3 record into St. Louis for a four game series.  The Cardinals, who had tortured the Mets in the previous two seasons, started their season 7-1 (including beating the Mets in their Shea home opener), but had lost three straight.  The Mets, looking to make a statement early in the season and to prove they were no fluke, swept the Cardinals and put 4.5 games between them.  The Mets never looked back as they dominated the rest of the regular season, winning 108 games and the World Series.

In 2015, the Nationals came into Citi Field in late July for a 3-game weekend series, holding a 2-game lead against a Mets team that had won just 5 of their last 13.  By Monday, the Mets had swept the Nationals and taken over First Place and never looked back.

The Nationals beat up on the Mets last season, winning 13 of 19, including sweeping an early April series at Citi field that pushed their NL East lead from 2.5 to 5.5 games.  When they met again in late April, the Mets won the first two games of a weekend series in Washington (cutting the nationals NL East lead to 5.5 games) and were looking for the sweep with Noah Syndergaard on the mound that last Sunday afternoon in April.  Instead, their season ended as Syndergaard left the game with an arm injury, never to return in 2017, as them Mets (now 10-14) were embarrassed in a 23-5 loss.  They never recovered.  By the time they got another crack at Washington in late June, they lost three of four at Citi field and were 10.5 games behind.

Mathematically, a win in April counts as much as a win in September.  When you are running out of scheduled games late in the season, fans will tend to look back at the April and May games their team lost and lament what could have been if they had reversed just a hand full of those early “meaningless” losses.  But sometimes you need to make a statement.  The team you are chasing needs to know you are going to be battling them all year.  Early in the season is when you have a chance to lay claim to all of your pre-season hype about “this year being different”.

The Nationals have nothing to fear from the Mets six games into the 2018 season.  In the last two years, the Nationals are 25-13 against the Mets, but if felt like they were 38-0.  Pennants are not won in April, but they can certainly be lost in April.

If the Mets want top give themselves and their fan base some hope for the 2018 season, they have to show up against the Nationals and prove they can play with the Big Boys.  New manager Mickey Calloway has instilled a new attitude in the Mets clubhouse and his handling of the bullpen has produced wins in 3 of 4 games.  The Mets bullpen has a stingy 1.33 ERA.

even the players know the importance of these three games.  “It’s crucial. It’s going to set the pace for the rest of the season with those guys,” Syndergaard said, “They’re our rivals. They’re the front-runners. It’s always nice to go out there and give them a little bit of a challenge. It’s going to be very crucial for us to go out there and attack them.”

After a 4-0 start, the Nationals lost their last two games, dropping their series in Atlanta.  They come back to Washington for their Home Opener and get to look at a familiar, yet different Mets team across the diamond.  They will be facing a revamped offense, a solid bullpen and Jacob deGrom (1-0, 1.59), Steven Matz (0-1, 6.75) and Matt Harvey (0-0, 0.00) in the Sunday night finale.

No doubt about it, Mets need to take 2 of 3 to make a statement to the Nationals that this season is going to be a dog fight.  At least they won’t have to worry about Daniel Murphy this weekend…

 

Mets Dream Of Undefeated Season Dashed Again, Suffer First Loss, 5-1

By Paul DiSclafani

And just like that, the dream of going 162-0 is dead.

The Mets (2-1) will not complete the first undefeated season in baseball history as they fall to the Cardinals, 5-1.  However, they did win the series against a good St. Louis team (1-2).  Even with the loss on Sunday, the Mets hit the ball well, only to find a lot of leather for outs.

Steven Matz (L, 0-1) took the loss as the Cardinals avoided the opening weekend sweep thanks to Paul DeJong’s first multi-home run game of his career.  Luke Weaver (W, 1-0) held the Mets to one run over his five innings and the bullpen did the rest.  DeJong, who’s a life-time 1.000 hitter against Matz (3-3), took him deep in the second inning to give the Cardinals their first lead of the weekend, 1-0.  It was the second home run that DeJong has hit against Matz in three AB’s.  DeJong went deep against Jacob Rhame (making his Mets debut) again in the 8th.

Matz struggled in the first two innings, throwing 51 pitches, walking two and striking out three.  But after Ahmed Rosario tied the game for the Mets with another 2-out RBI in the second, Matz surrendered a run scoring, 2-out double to Marcel Ozuna after getting ahead in the count 0-2.  Ozuna started the season 0-9 before delivering that RBI double.  He followed it up with a run scoring single in the 5th and finished the day with three hits.

Weaver, who won seven straight starts for the Cardinals as a rookie last year, worked in and out of trouble in his five innings, including a 27-pitch first inning that the Mets failed to capitalize on.  The Mets managed five hits against Weaver in his five innings and just two more the rest of the way.

Matt Harvey takes the hill to start a three-game series against the Phillies (1-2) tomorrow, who a rare Sunday off after being hammered by the Braves n Saturday, 15-2.  New manager Gabe Kapler made a huge boner when he removed starter Vince Velasquez without any pitcher warming up in the bullpen.  Hoby Milner jumped up and threw a handful of pitches in the pen before jogging to the mound.  When umpire Jerry Lane (the crew chief) allowed Milner a few extra throws on the mound, Braves manager Brian Skitner came out to argue about the delay and was then tossed from the game.  Lane would later file a report with Major League Baseball, explaining his decision.

“For whatever reason the pitcher wasn’t even getting ready,” Layne told a pool reporter. “Who got crossed up, I’m not placing blame on anybody because I don’t know. He just wasn’t ready. Hadn’t thrown a pitch. … The last thing I want to do is get somebody hurt. It’s already a messed-up situation.”

Lane did the right thing for the player, but there should be some sort of punishment for Kapler.

POSITIVES:  Juan Lagares, playing for a second straight game because Brandon Nimmo had flu-like symptoms, had three hits … Jay Bruce had his first XBH of the year, a double … Jacob Rhame, whom the Mets got in the Curtis Granderson deal from the Dodgers last year, made his Mets debut … Third straight game without an error and the defense turned two double plays … AJ Ramos pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout … Jason Vargas threw a bullpen session on Saturday and is scheduled to throw a simulated game on Monday … Michael Conforto is scheduled to rejoin the Mets on Monday and could be in the lineup as early as Thursday … Mets pitchers have recorded 35 strikeouts in the first three games, breaking the franchise record of 32 that was set in 2005.

NEGATIVES:  Todd Frazier was 0-3 with 2K and is hitting just .200 … Roasrio got picked off first after driving home the Mets only run … Jerry Blevins made his first appearance of the season, but walked two before getting the final out of the 8th inning, facing only 3 batters … Anthony Swarzak will be evaluated after leaving the game on Saturday with a strained oblique muscle.

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

Mets Sunday Brunch 4/1/18: The Kings of Opening Day and Remembering “Le Grande Orange”

By Paul DiSclafani

HO-HUM, ANOTHER OPENING DAY WIN

It’s not that the Mets won their first two games of the season, although that is unusual, it’s how they won them that has been impressive.  They won them with offense, good starting pitching and even better bullpen work.  Not a lot to complain about when you start 2-0 against a good team like the Cardinals.

Although the Mets won a World Series before they ever won an Opening Day game, since 1970 they are an incredible 32-17 on Day 1.  Unfortunately, during that same stretch, they are 24-25 in Game 2.  So we expected them to win Game 1 and would hold our breath for Game 2.

But this team feels different.  Not only that, we are seeing things being done with the bullpen that are not formulaic and would make former manager Terry Collins’ head spin.

On Opening Day, the Mets scored nine runs without a home run on seven singles and nine walks.  In a game that last year Collins would have used six pitchers, new manager Mickey Calloway previewed how he was going to handle the pitchers.  After the Mets broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth to take an 8-3 lead, Calloway stayed with Noah Syndergaard in the top of the sixth.  Syndergaard had thrown 75 pitches over the first five innings and on a cold afternoon and the first start of the season, there is no way Collins allows Syndergaard to start the sixth with a huge lead.  But Syndergaard, although he gave up a home run, got out of the inning with just 10 pitches and his afternoon was complete – and a bullpen inning was saved.

Calloway then went to Robert Gsellman, who struck out the side.  Anthony Swarzak then got a 1-2-3 eighth inning.  Do you really believe that Collins wouldn’t have pulled one of them at some point for a righty-lefty switch, burning Blevins for just one batter?

On Saturday, Calloway did something Collins never would have even considered.  He let both Gsellman and Swarzak finish one inning and start another.  Not unheard of, but certainly not part of the Collins and Dan Warthen playbook.  Why not stay with a guy who pitched out of a jam and keep that momentum going?

And then there is the lineup.  After Brandon Nimmo was on base four out of five times on Opening Day, Juan Lagares started in Center for Game 2.  Asdrubal Cabrera, who was the only position player without a hit on Opening Day, was moved from cleanup to lead off.  Catcher Kevin Plawecki hit a home run on Opening Day, but Travis d’Arnaud started Game 2.  Raise your hand if you think Terry Collins would have used the same starting lineup after a rousing win when both starting pitchers were right handed.  You bet he would have.

Instead, Lagares gets two hits, Cabrera goes 3-5 and d’Arnaud hits a home run.

Hats off to Calloway and whatever he is doing.  He has this team playing hard, running the bases, catching the ball and being aggressive on the mound.  Maybe we are going to have a lot of fun this season?

REMEMBERING LE GRANDE ORANGE

NOTE:  A few weeks ago, when we first learned he was sick, I published this regarding Rusty Staub.  Due to his passing on Thursday, I thought I would run it again for those who may have missed it.

Any Mets fan from my generation knows that Rusty Staub was “Le Grande Orange”.  He was a player that did not know the word “quit”, but is now fighting perhaps his last battle in a hospital down in Florida.  Staub’s kidneys are failing due to a staph infection.  Hopefully his condition will continue to improve.

Staub, now 73, played 23 season for five different teams, including two stints as a Met.  In his first tour of duty, from 1972-1975, he helped the Mets recover from their post 1969 World Championship fog by becoming a dynamic, yet injury plagued player and leading them back to the World Series in 1973.  Many younger Mets fans may remember Staub as one of the best pinch hitters in the game when he returned for his final tour from 1981-85.

Most of us will never forget his heroic performance in the 1973 playoffs.  In the first three games of the National League Championship series against the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds, Staub had already hit three home runs and driven in five.  In the 11th inning of Game 4, he tracked down a long fly ball from Dan Drieesen in Right Field at Shea, robbing him of an extra-base hit, making a spectacular catch and crashing into the wall, separating his right shoulder.  He missed the Pennant clinching Game 5 and sat out Game One of the World Series against Oakland.  Then, separated shoulder and all, he returned for Game 2, even though he couldn’t throw the ball overhand.  Out in Right Field, Staub had to flip the ball underhanded to a teammate when he fielded it.

How do you hit with a separated shoulder, you might ask?  Staub still managed to hit .423 against the A’s, driving in six runs and even somehow managing a home run in the World Series.  In just 10 post season games – six of them with a separated shoulder – Staub managed four home runs, 11 RBI and batted .341.

It was one of the most heroic performances I have ever seen on a baseball field, where players have to sometimes sit out a few games for a hang-nail.  Staub, who played three seasons in his first tour with the expansion Montreal Expos from 1972-75, would have made a great hockey player.  Staub earned the nickname of “Le Grande Orange” for his hair color while with the Expos and was so popular, he was the first player to have a number retired by the franchise.

Later in his career, he returned to the Mets in 1981 and became a player-coach in 1982.  He was strictly a pinch hitter, but in 1983, he did tie two Major League Records; eight consecutive pinch hits and 25 RBI as a pinch hitter.  To cap off that amazing 1983 season, he hit a home run in his last AB and finished at exactly .300.

Some other Rusty Staub tidbits:

  • He is the only player to amass 500 hits for four (4) different teams and finished his career with 2,716 hits
  • He is the first Mets player to have 100 RBI in a season, finishing with 105 in 1975.  Gary Carter ted it in 1986 and Darryl Strawberry broke it in 1990 (108).
  • In his only injury free season (1974), he led the Mets in hits, RBI and AB’s
  • He was traded from the Houston Colt 45’s to Montreal prior to the 1969 season for Don Clendenon and Jesus Alou.  Clendenon threatened to retire from baseball rather than accept a trade to Houston because he didn’t get along with their new manager, Harry Walker, whom he considered a racist.  Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn then ruled Clendenon could stay in Montreal and the Expos amended the deal.  Clendenon was traded to the Mets in June of that season and became a hero in our World Series run that season.
  • He played in the Major Leagues at just 19 years-old and is one of only two players to hit a home run before turning 20 and after turning 40.
  • With Detroit in 1978, he became the first player in baseball history to play all 162 games as a designated history and drove in 121 runs.
  • In his 23 years, he was on base 4,050 times – more than Rogers Hornsby or Tony Gwynn.

Of course, he became an even more beloved figure after his career with the “Rusty Staub Foundation”, founding the “New York Police and Fireman Widows’ and Children Benefit Fund”, raising more than $11 million prior to 9/11/2001 and more than $122 million after that.

NOTE:  According to his brother, Staub experienced a heart condition while playing golf earlier in the week and died of a heart attack just after midnight on Opening Day of the baseball season.  The Mets will be wearing a black circle patch with Rusty’s signature in orange on the sleeve of their home and away jersey.  For the first two games of the season, they hung Staub’s #10 jersey in the dugout as a tribute.

THIS AND THAT…

So if Nimmo and Lagares are off to good starts, what do we do if Michael Conforto is ready to come back next week? … Not completely sold on this pitcher-batting-eighth thing, but it seems to be working.  Hitting Cespedes #2 has also worked out.  Statistics show that the #2 batter gets the most RBI opportunities in the lineup.  Don’t believe that, just ask Derek Jeter … Todd Frazier plays a nice third base … After two games, Robert Gsellmen has more AB’s than Jose Reyes … Mets sporting a .512 On Base Percentage in first two games with 23 hits, 14 walks and a handful of HBP … The Bullpen has combined for 6.1 innings (between Gsellmen, Swarzak and Familia) for 3 hits, 1 R and 10 K … Adrian Gonzalez has been on base five times in 10 plate appearances … Best statistic of the first two games?  No errors … Nice to see David Wright being announced to the crowd during the Opening Day ceremonies.  He looked a little gaunt, but it was a touching moment between the fans of this franchise and Wright.  He gave us everything he had when he could.  If this is the last time we could cheer him as a player, so be it.  Mike Piazza may have been one of the best players we have ever had, but Wright and Tom Seaver are the only two players that could be labeled “Franchise” players.  They were ours from the beginning and we loved them from the beginning.  My generation had Tom Terrific and my kids generation had David Wright.  Good luck, David.  We’re pulling for you…

Paul DiSclafani is a featured writer on “A View From The Bench”, which has been recognized by Major League baseball as one of the top 100 blog sites.

Happ Homers on 1st pitch, Cubs beat Marlins, 8-4 in Opener

Cubs logo

by Richard Kagan

Ian Happ sent the first pitch of the season over the right field wall as the lead-off hitter and the Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

Chicago got two other home runs, one from Anthony Rizzo, who always seems to meet the moment.  This one coming as he returned to Miami to play in front of the Marlins crowd. Rizzo attended Marjorie Stoneham H.S. in Parkland, Florida where 17 students were recently shot and killed which shocked a nation.  Rizzo and his teammates wore t-shirts honoring the high school before the game.

When Rizzo crossed home plate after crushing a ball to the upper deck in right field, he raised his arms to the sky in acknowledgment to the fallen high schoolers.  Fans in attendence gave him an ovation.

Kyle Schwarber hit his first long-ball of the season later in the game. The Cubs added two insurance runs on a double by Tommy La Stella to right center.

Chicago picked up Jon Lester who got the starting nod and gave up four runs early. The bull pen pitched a scoreless 5 2/3 innings. Reliever Steve Cishek got the win with 1 and 2/3 rd shutout innings.

Chicago (1-0) looked relaxed and ready to play. They had plenty of time in the off-season to get ready for the start of the season and the team looked good in the first game of the season.

Addison Russell had two hits and Wilson Contreras fanned three times at the plate. In all, 10 Cubs struck out.

The Cubs used the long-ball, some timely hitting, and a strong bull pen to earn its first win of the long season.

Mets Sunday Brunch 3/4/18: Remembering “Le Grande Orange”, Spring Training Injuries and What Happened to the Offense?

By Paul DiSclafani

REMEMBERING “LE GRANDE ORANGE”

Any Mets fan from my generation knows that Rusty Staub was “Le Grande Orange”.  He was a player that did not know the word “quit”, but is now fighting perhaps his last battle in a hospital down in Florida.  Staub’s kidneys are failing due to a staph infection.  Hopefully his condition will continue to improve.

Staub, now 73, played 23 season for five different teams, including two stints as a Met.  In his first tour of duty, from 1972-1975, he helped the Mets recover from their post 1969 World Championship fog by becoming a dynamic, yet injury plagued player and leading them back to the World Series in 1973.  Many younger Mets fans may remember Staub as one of the best pinch hitters in the game when he returned for his final tour from 1981-85.

Most of us will never forget his heroic performance in the 1973 playoffs.  In the first three games of the National League Championship series against the powerhouse Cincinnati Reds, Staub had already hit three home runs and driven in five.  In the 11th inning of Game 4, he tracked down a long fly ball from Dan Drieesen in Right Field at Shea, robbing him of an extra-base hit, making a spectacular catch and crashing into the wall, separating his right shoulder.  He missed the Pennant clinching Game 5 and sat out Game One of the World Series against Oakland.  Then, separated shoulder and all, he returned for Game 2, even though he couldn’t throw the ball overhand.  Out in Right Field, Staub had to flip the ball underhanded to a teammate when he fielded it.

How do you hit with a separated shoulder, you might ask?  Staub still managed to hit .423 against the A’s, driving in six runs and even somehow managing a home run in the World Series.  In just 10 post season games – six of them with a separated shoulder – Staub managed four home runs, 11 RBI and batted .341.

It was one of the most heroic performances I have ever seen on a baseball field, where players have to sometimes sit out a few games for a hang-nail.  Staub, who played three seasons in his first tour with the Montreal Expos, would have made a great hockey player.  Staub earned the nickname of “Le Grande Orange” for his hair color while with the Expos and was so popular, he was the first player to have a number retired by the franchise.

Later in his career, he returned to the Mets in 1981 and became a player-coach in 1982.  He was strictly a pinch hitter, but in 1983, he did tie two Major League Records; eight consecutive pinch hits and 25 RBI as a pinch hitter.  To cap off that amazing 1983 season, he hit a home run in his last AB and finished at exactly .300.

Some other Rusty Staub tidbits:

  • He is the only player to amass 500 hits for four (4) different teams and finished his career with 2,716 hits
  • He is the first Mets player to have 100 RBI in a season, finishing with 105 in 1975.  Gary Carter ted it in 1986 and Darryl Strawberry broke it in 1990 (108).
  • In his only injury free season (1974), he led the Mets in hits, RBI and AB’s
  • He was traded from the Houston Colt 45’s to Montreal prior to the 1969 season for Don Clendenon and Jesus Alou.  Clendenon threatened to retire from baseball rather than accept a trade to Houston because he didn’t get along with their new manager, Harry Walker.  Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn then ruled Clendenon could stay in Montreal and the Expos amended the deal.  Clendenon was traded to the Mets in June of that season and became a hero in our World Series run that season.
  • He played in the Major Leagues at just 19 years-old
  • With Detroit in 1978, he became the first player in baseball history to play all 162 games as a designated history and drove in 121 runs.

Of course, he became an even more beloved figure after his career with the “Rusty Staub Foundation”, founding the “New York Police and Fireman Widows’ and Children Benefit Fund”, raising more than $11 million prior to 9/11/2001 and more than $122 million after that.

SPRING TRAINING INJURIES?

Can we all just dial back our concern with Spring Training “injuries”?  Spring training is all about injuries as the players are preparing for the marathon known as the regular season.  If you are not getting soreness every day in the spring, you are not working hard enough.

Please don’t misunderstand me because I know all about the Mets history of injuries.  But if you are stressing about Cespedes having a sore shoulder in the first week of March, you are in for a long season.  If pitchers are experiencing elbow or shoulder injuries, that s a different thing.  But soreness?

How come there is no concern over Aaron Judge having just 3 AB’s (0-3) in the first nine games?  Clint Frazier has a concussion and may not be ready for opening day.  Jacoby Ellsbury has an oblique injury.  And yet Jacob deGrom missing a start dooms the season?  Oh my goodness – Cespedes has a sore shoulder, must be the new training staff!

I get it, we Mets fans are a little gun-shy regarding injuries.  But such gloom and doom on March 4th?

WHAT ABOUT THE OFFENSE?

Want to be concerned about anything, how about the offense?  A team that is geared to hit home runs hasn’t really done much of that.  Again, it is still very early, but this team can’t seem to string consecutive hits together.  You are not going to hit a lot of 3-run-homers if you can’t get on base.

The reality is the Mets have scored just 44 runs in 10 games and while on the surface, that 4.4 runs per game seems reasonable, that doesn’t always translate to wins and losses in the regular season.  Sometimes it’s not how many runs you score, it’s when you score them.  The Mets scored 29 of those 44 runs in their 3 wins (10,6 and 6) and a 7-7 tie.  That’s just 15 runs in six losses, including a shutout in a spring training game.  How do you not score a run in an exhibition game against of all teams, the Marlins?

Results in spring training are ludicrous to being with since early on pitchers are more concerned with working on mechanics and not situations and by the time you get past the sixth inning, players with numbers in the 70’s and no names on their jersey are walking up to the plate.

The Mets have played just 10 of their 33 scheduled exhibition games, so lets give it a chance shall we?  We can revisit this subject in about two weeks, I promise.

THIS AND THAT:

With all the media and fan uproar about Tim Tebow playing in exhibition games, a guy who has spent the last 18 months in the minor leagues working on baseball skills and improving them, why was there not even a ripple that Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson spent a week with the Yankees and got an AB in an exhibition game? I guess if you wear pinstripes, noting is considered a circus.  Doesn’t anyone remember “The Bronx Zoo”? … The more I see Brandon Nimmo play, the more I like him.  He’s hitting .417 with a HR and five RBI and can catch the ball … Gavin Cecchini is going to push Jose Reyes for a spot on the Opening Day roster.  He’s 5-11 at the plate (.455) with a .571 OBP and has already hit 2 HR.  Reyes is 1-11 and seems more than a step slow in the field … Syndergaard, Vargas, Harvey and Wheeler have combined for 12 innings and just 4 Earned Runs so far and 0 injuries to report.  What is the more valuable number to you?