Oct 31, 2016

Al Leiter- The Mets Years (1998-2004)

Al Leiter debuted with the Mets in the second game of the 1998 season, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. He won his next three starts closing out April at 3-1. On May 23rd he pitched a four hit shutout, beating the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium.

From that day to the end of June, Leiter won six straight games lowering his ERA to 1.60. After missing three weeks of action he returned to go 8-2 the rest of the year.

In his first season with the Mets Leiter had his best career season, becoming the ace of the staff winning a career high 17 games. He was 17-6 with the league’s third best ERA (2.47) and was second in the NL in hits allowed per nine innings. He pitched 193 innings struck out 174 batters & walked just 71.

In 1999 he was Bobby Valentines Opening Day pitcher, but was gone after five innings, as he took the loss in Florida against his old Marlins team mates. He had a rough start to the season finding himself at 2-5 by the end of May.

He turned it around in June going 5-0 in the month, never allowing more than three runs in a game & going at least into the seventh inning all but one time. On June 6th he beat the AL New York club allowing just one run in seven innings in the subway series held in the Bronx. That month he also beat the Boston Red Sox & the Marlins twice.

On August 1st, Leiter struck out a season high 15 batters at Wrigley Field in a 5-4 win over the Cubs. He pitched seven innings allowing just two runs on seven hits. As he entered September he was 10-9 and then he beat the Colorado Rockies pitching into the 9th inning on September 4th allowing just two runs in the 4-2 Mets win.

He then he lost his next three starts as the Mets were fighting for a wild card finish. During the last week of the season he beat the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium allowing just two runs pitching seven innings. Then he had his best outing of the year in the Mets biggest game of the year, after they ended the regular season tied for the wild card title.

Wild Card Playoff: Leiter was brilliant in the one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds at Riverfront Stadium. He threw a two hit complete game shutout striking out seven Reds while walking four. He helped bring the Mets into their first post season in thirteen years.

In the Mets wild card winning season he went 13-12 with a 4.23 ERA, striking out 162 batters with 93 walks (6th in the league) pitching in 213 innings. At the plate his 11 sacrifice hits were 8th best in the league.

Post Season: In the '99 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks he got the start in Game #4 at Shea Stadium. He went into the 8th inning with a 2-1 Mets lead but with two outs gave up a walk & a base hit. He exited the game giving the ball to Armando Benitez. Benitez allowed a two run double to Jay Bell blowing the chance for Leiter to earn a victory. The Mets came back & won it on Todd Pratt’s now famous walk off HR, winning the Series advancing to the NLCS.

In the NLCS Leiter faced off against Atlanta’s Tom Glavine In Game #3 at Shea Stadium. In the first inning the Braves scored on an unearned run after a Mike Piazza error, the run was the only one scored in the game & Leiter took a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.

In the game he pitched seven strong innings allowing no earned runs on just three hits. He returned in Game #6 but never got past the 1st inning, as the Braves roughed him up scoring five times & he was relieved by Pat Mahomes.

In 2000 he took a step back becoming the number two starter behind newly acquired Mike Hampton. After playing the first two games of the year at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, the Mets had their official home opener on April 3rd. Leiter got the start beating the San Diego Padres after allowing just one run over eight innings. Leiter was sensational in the first part of the season; he was 5-0 by mid May pitching his first complete game at at Pittsburgh on May 11th, striking out eight Pirate batters.

On July 1st he struck out a season high 12 batters in a victory against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium. He went into the All Star break with a 10-2 record posting a 2.99 ERA, making his second All Star team. He pitched the 4th inning of the Mid Summer Classic at Atlanta’s Turner Field allowing two runs & earning the National League loss.

His best outing during the second half of the season came against the San Francisco Giants at Shea Stadium on August 12th when he struck out 12 batters matching his season high. He allowed no runs on two hits in eight innings pitched. On August 23rd he pitched eight innings in San Diego allowing just one run on three hits, matching his season high 12 strike outs for the third time.

He went 6-6 the rest of the season finishing off the year leading the Mets staff in wins with 16. He went 16-8 with a .667 winning percentage. He struck out 200 batters (5th in the NL) for the second time in his career, throwing 208 innings of work while posting a 3.20 ERA (6th best in the NL). Leiter led the league with a perfect .1000 fielding %, for the first of three seasons.

Post Season: Leiter started Game #2 of the NLDS in San Francisco against the Giants. He held the Giants down to one run on five hits pitching into the 9th inning. He allowed a leadoff double, giving way to Armando Benitez who blew the Mets 4-1 lead. Benitez allowing a three run HR to J.D. Drew, but the Mets came back to win it on Jay Payton’s single in the top of the 10th inning.

In the NLCS against the St. Louis Cards, Leiter started Game #2 at Busch Stadium. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing three runs on eight hits, leaving the game tied at 3-3. The Mets went on to win the game after a Jay Payton RBI single in the top of the 9th inning.

He opened up the 2000 subway World Series in the Bronx, pitching another quality start. He left Game #1 with a 3-2 lead after seven innings pitched, and striking out seven batters. Armando Benitez blew that lead as the Mets lost a heart breaker in extra innings.

In the final Game #5 he pitched his heart once again at Shea Stadium. He pitched into the 9th inning allowing three runs on seven hits & three walks. He had struck out nine batters as well. After a walk & a single he served up an RBI base hit to Luis Sojo.

Unfortunately the Mets offense couldn’t get anything going for him in the bottom of the inning once again. Leiter pitched two World Series games with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched posting a 2.87 ERA.

On Opening Day 2001 he pitched a fine game seven innings, allowing two runs in Atlanta but earned no decision in the Mets 6-4 win over the Braves. He then struggled losing his next three games. He rebounded winning three straight beating the Los Angeles Dodgers at home & the Expos & Marlins at home. He then struggled & lost five of his next six starts finding himself at 4-8 at the break. He pitched his best at the end of August into early September winning four straight games pitching into the 7th inning or beyond three times.

 On August 26th he pitched eight innings against the Giants allowing just three runs in the 605 Mets win. He earned another victory in his next star when he pitched eight innings once again, this time against the Marlins. He allowed just one run & struck out seven for win number ten on the year.

In September he made the start in the first game after the 911 attacks. He allowed just one run in seven innings but exited in a 1-1 tie. The Mets went on to win it as John Franco got the victory. He then had two good outings against the Braves, one at home & one in Atlanta.
He pitched eight innings each time, allowing just one run both times but earned no decisions due to lack of run support.

On the year he was 11-11 but pitched better than his record showed. He posted a 3.31 ERA (8TH in the league) as the Mets fell to 82-80 finishing in third place. Leiter struck out 142 batters, walked 46 in 187 innings pitched.

In 2002 he beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day pitching six innings of one run baseball. On April 18th he pitched a two hit shutout in Montreal striking out eight Expos. He had a good start on the year going 5-2. By the All Star break he was 9-7 posting a 2.95 ERA. He was just like the team bouncing around at the .500 level the rest of the way.

On the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Leiter threw another complete game shutout, this time a five hitter against the Braves in Atlanta. On the year he went 13-13 with 172 strike outs & 69 walks, pitching in 204 innings while posting a 3.48 ERA.

For the 2003 season, he took a back seat to the newly acquired Tom Glavine as the ace of the staff. Leiter won his first three starts, beginning with a win against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of the season.

He pitched well enough to be 10-5 at the end of July although his ERA was up at 4.81. He went on to go 15-9 on the season, second on the staff in wins to Steve Trachsel who won 16 games. Leiter was ninth in the NL in wins that season. He struck out 139 batters while walking 94 (5th most in the NL) pitching 180 innings and posting a 3.99 ERA.

2004 was his final Mets season as the 39 year Al Leiter’s career began to wind down. He started out 2-2 but then won six out of seven games over the next two months. He made his last Mets start on October 2nd, getting no decision in an outing against the Montreal Expos at Shea Stadium. He won ten games overall on the year, going 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA pitching in thirty games.

In his seven year Mets career he made 213 starts (6th on the all time Mets list) he won 95 games (95-67) which is also sixth on the Mets all time list. 

He is seventh in innings pitched (1360) & strike outs (1106) with a 3.42 ERA. He is tenth in winning % (.586) & losses (67). As a Met was in the league's top ten in ERA four times, wins three times, strikeouts twice and threw at least one shut out in four different seasons.

In 2005 he went to the Florida Marlins going 3-7 through mid July when he was sent to the A.L. New York club to finish out his career. Lifetime over nineteen seasons he was 162-132 (214th all time in wins) with 1974 strikeouts (74th all time), 1163 walks (61st all time), 16 complete games, 10 shutouts and a 3.80 ERA in 2391 innings pitched in 419 games.

Retirement: He began broadcasting games while still a player during the post season games on Fox. He angered a lot of Met fans working as an analyst on the YES network from 2006-2008.

In 2009 he signed on for MLB Networks inaugural season as an in studio reporter. Leiter has considered running for political office on the Republican ticket in the state of New Jersey. He was appointed as member to the NJ Sports, Gaming, and Entertainment Committee.

Leiter who was seen at many Bruce Springsteen concerts especially the ones at Shea Stadium in 2003. He was on hand for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008 & got a luke warm greeting due to his ties with the cross town rivals.


2000 NL Champion Mets Pitcher: Al Leiter- Part One (1987-1997)

Alois Terry Leiter was born October 23, 1965 in Toms River, New Jersey. He went to high school in Bayville New Jersey at Central Regional high.

Leiter grew up a huge Bruce Springsteen fan and was a local New Jersey baseball star. He was drafted by the AL New York team in the second round of the 1984 draft. 

His older brother Mark Leiter, attended Ramapo College & was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles a year earlier. Injuries delayed Mark's career until 1990 when he debuted for eight games with the AL New York club. He would go to the Detroit Tigers (1991-1993) having a best 9-7 year in 1991.

Mark pitched for the California Angles (1994) San Francisco Giants (1995-1996) where he won ten games (10-12) in 1995. Mark Leiter moved onto Montreal Expos (1997) Philadelphia Phillies (1997-1998) Seattle Mariners (1999) & then was injured for two more years making a brief comeback with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2001 (three games). In his 11 year career he is 65-73 with a 4.57 ERA in 335 games. 

Older brother Al Leiter, pitched in the minor leagues under the .500 mark in his three seasons before making it to the big leagues. Al Leiter made his MLB debut on September 15th, 1987 in New York beating the Milwaukee Brewers in a six inning one run performance. He struggled with blisters and injures the following year After being hyped up and only going 4-4 in 1988, the impatient organization gave up on him He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jesse Barfield in April of 1989.

There he had to have elbow surgery and struggled with injuries up until the 1992 season. In his first four seasons in Toronto he only pitched in nine games total. He was aboeard for the Blue Jays championship seasons & the hey day of the Sky Dome when it was billed as the 8th wonder of the world. He appeared mostly as a reliever in the Blue Jays 1993 post season, making 12 starts in 34 appearances. He was 9-6 with two saves & a 4.11 ERA.

Post Season: He appeared in two games of the ALCS against the Chicago White Sox. In the 1993 World Series he got the win beating the Philadelphia Phillies, Curt Schilling in Game #1 at Toronto. At the plate he hit a double in Game #4, while allowing six runs in two innings of work in the Blue Jays 15-14 win.

In 1994 he was back in the starting rotation but was limited to twenty games going 6-7. In 1995 the Blue Jays glory days were over as they fell to fifth place. Leiter was 11-11 with a 3.64 ERA leading the league in walks (108) & wild pitches (14). After six years with the Blue Jays he signed as a free agent with the Florida Marlins in 1996.

In Miami his career turned around, as he went 16-12 with a 2.93 ERA (3rd best in the NL) and made his first All Star team in his first season there. In 1997 Leiter won 11 games while losing nine, as the Marlins went on to win the World Series. He was the number three pitcher behind Kevin Brown (16-8) & Alex Fernandez (17-12).

Post Season: In the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves, Leiter was the losing pitcher in Game #4 at Florida. He allowed four runs in six innings taking the loss to Denny Neagle who pitched a complete game four hit shutout. In the World Series against the Cleveland Indians,

Leiter started in Game #3 at Cleveland, allowing seven runs (four earned) in just 4.2 innings of work. The Marlins rallied to win a wild 14-11 victory.

Leiter got the ball for Gme #7 in Florida, he went six innings allowing two runs & leaving the game behind 2-1. The Marlins rallied to win it in the bottom of the 9th on Edgar Renteria's walk off base hit. Overall in the 1997 post season he appeared in five games and went 0-1 with an ERA over six.

During that off season the Marlins management had a huge fire sale, selling off most of thier high priced top players. Leiter was traded to the Mets for two minor leaguers and a young A.J. Burnett.

Today In Mets History: (1969) Mets Click Their Heels With Two At Wrigley

Another look at how the 1969 Mets added to the so called Chicago Cubs curse:

JULY 16, 1969: As the Summer of '69 moved on, the surprising  New York Mets were dominating the first place Chicago Cubs head to head. After beating Tom Seaver 1-0 in the opener at Wrigley Field, the Cubs thirdbase man Ron Santo jumped up clicking his heels while leaving the field. This was a tradition for Mr. Santo & it did not sit well with the Mets. The Amazing's thought it was a bush league move, a sign of disrespect & they wanted revenge. The Young Mets would step up & take the next two.

The next day Al Weis hit his first HR of the year, a three run blast and Ken Boswell added a solo shot as the Mets won it 5-4. Weis would hit just two HRs in the regular season, but would become a slugger in the World Series. Tommy Agee drove in the other Mets run with a triple. Pitchers, Gary Gentry & Ron Taylor combined for the win.

In the rubber game, a full house packed Wrigley, and all the transistor radios in New York were tuned in on this Wednesday afternoon. Future Hall Of Famer Fergie Jenkins took the hill for Chicago, and the Mets battered him around in the 1st inning.

For the Mets, Tommie Agee doubled and scored on Ken Boswell's base hit. Cleon Jones singled and stole second. Wayne Garrett was intentionally walked and Ed Kranepool hit an RBI base hit, making it 2-0. Then, second string catcher J.C. Martin ( a .227 hitter) drove a base hit to left field scoring two more Mets  runs. It was now 4-0 Mets.

In the 2nd, Tommy Agee hit his 16th HR of the year and Wayne Garrett added an RBI making it 6-0 Mets.

Mets pitcher Don Cardwell got knocked out in the 2nd inning, giving up four runs, as the Cubs made a game of it. Jim McAndrew relieved him & didn’t fare much better, all of a sudden it was 6-5 by the time Cal Koonce took the mound in the 3rd.

But Koonce stopped the Cubs cold, he scattered just four hits over the next five innings, in a stellar relief performance getting the win. Ron Taylor closed out the 8th & 9th innings earning his 9th save of the year.

The Mets did add more runs, Al Weis hit his second HR in two days, in the 5th inning. Art Shamsky added a two run HR in the 8th inning, his 7th of the year making it 9-5 Mets.

After the game Tom Seaver jumped & clicked his heels outside the Mets dugout while smirking over at Ron Santo & the Cubs.

Not only were these Mets winning they weren’t taking anybodys garbage. They believed in themselves & were now only 4 ½ games back. People began to believe.
With all the talk of the Chicago Cubs being cursed, lets look back in history how the 1969 New York Mets played their part!

Oct 30, 2016

Remembering Mets History: 1999 NLCS Game #5- Robin Ventura's Walk Off Grand Slam Single

Sunday October 17th 1999: NLCS Game #5- Shea Stadium, New York. After the Mets had salvaged a win in Game #4 there was some hope & reason to believe. The mighty Atlanta Braves had taken the first three games but now if the Mets could win this one, they were right back in it. That they did in dramatic & classic fashion. It is a game that goes down forever as a Mets classic.

The game began in the afternoon & would last five hours & forty six minutes into the evening. Bobby Valentine would use 23 total players in the game, fourteen position players & nine pitchers. For Atlanta; Bobby Cox would use 22 players, sixteen position players & six pitchers.

 Starting Lineups

The game began with Masato Yoshi (12-8 / 4.40 ERA / 105 Ks) on the mound against Greg Maddox (19-9 / 3.57 ERA / 136 Ks) in front of 55,723 fans at Shea.

The Mets struck first; Rickey Henderson led off the home 1st, with a single. Then, John Olerud really got the crowd going with a two run HR. But Greg Maddox settled down after that, pitching through the 7th inning. He would allow two runs on seven hits, with a pair of walks & strike outs. He exited with a 2-2 tie.

Masato Yoshi held the Braves scoreless until the 4th inning. Bret Boone led off with a double, Chipper Jones doubled as well & Brian Jordan singled to tie it up at two. Bobby Valentine yanked Yoshi & brought in the veteran; Orel Hershiser (13-12 / 4.58 ERA/ 89 Ks).

Hershiser known as "the Bull dog" gave the Mets an outstanding middle relief performance. Although he walked three batters, he held the Braves scoreless over 3.1 innings allowing just one hit. Bull dog struck out five along the way, as he got the Mets to the 7th inning.

Hershiser had entered the game with two runners on & no one out, he struck out the side to end the threat. In the 5th inning, with two men on he struck out Brian Jordan to end that inning as well. In the 6th, a Met error, an intentional walk & another walk loaded the bases. Hershiser then struck out Greg Maddox & Mike Piazza nailed Ryan Klesco trying to steal home as he was running on the pitch.

The Mets would have Turk Wendell pitch in the 7th inning. He then gave way to Pat Mahomes who pitched into the 8th inning with two outs. John Franco would come on & get to the 10th inning, where Armando Benitez took over getting it to the 11th inning, still tied at 2-2.

Kenny Rogers pitched two scoreless for New York & was relieved by Octavio Dotel. Dotel pitched two scoreless innings but not without drama. In the 13th, Keith Lockhart singled & Chipper Jones doubled to right field. Melvin Mora now in right, grabbed the ball threw to Edgardo Alfonzo who threw home to nail Lockhart at the plate & end the inning.The drama continued in this epic nail bitter.
In the 15th inning, Dotel gave up what looked like thew final fatal run. Walt Weiss singled & stole second base. With two outs, Keith Lockhart tripled to center field scoring Weiss & silencing the crowd. 

By now the rain was falling on a damp cool autumn evening in New York. This epic game was more than five hours old & all it's excitement came down to the Mets being down 3-2 in the 15th inning. The Braves pitcher was Kevin McGlinchy.

Shawon Dunston led off with a base hit & boldly, stole second base, bringing life to the crowd once again. Pinch hitter; Matt Franco then drew a walk. Edgardo Alfonzo sacrificed the runners over & the Mets were in business. John Olerud was intentionally walked to get to Todd Pratt. Pratt was now in the game having replaced Mike Piazza behind the plate. It was McGlinchy's game, as Bobby Cox had pretty much run out of options. He walked Pratt bringing in the tying run. Shea was reborn & went wild.

Robin Ventura came to the plate, Ventura on a bad knee was struggling in the series. He had gone 0-16 prior to his 11th inning single. But this time he was destined to be a hero, he took a 2-1 fast ball & drove it just over the classic 371 foot marker in right center field. It was a HR, a  grand slam walk off game winning HR, in the post season. It was awesome.

Luckily Roger Cedeno scored from third base quickly, because the runner on first base; Todd Pratt was so excited at the blast, he hugged Robin Ventura, scooping him up in the air. He was estatic but because of that action, Ventura's blast would go down in the books as a walk off single & the Mets had a 4-3 win.

Ventura joked to the media, "Maybe tonight when you guys go home, I'll run the bases" "It's no big deal, as long as I touched first base we won, so that's fine with me."  He also said  "We just play for another day. It seems like we've been saying that for a month now".

Darryl Hamilton said it best for the players on the bench describing this one: "It was getting crazy, it was getting to the point where your stomach was coming out of your guts".

Remembering Mets History: 1999 NLDS Game #3- Mets Romp Arizona With Nine Runs & Eleven Hits

Friday, October 8, 1999- NLCS Game #3- Shea Stadium
With the NLDS tied at one game each, the post season returned to Shea Stadium for the first time in eleven years. 56,180 crazed Mets fans came to Shea to cheer on their team.
Bobby Valentine sent Rick Reed (11-5 / 4.58 ERA 104 Ks) to the mound against Arizona's Omar Dahl (16-9 / 3.65 ERA / 148 Ks). 

In the home 2nd, Benny Agbayani singled, then with one out, Robin Ventura & Todd Pratt both walked. Rey Ordonez put the Mets on the board with an RBI single to right field. In the 3rd, Edgardo Alfonzo doubled, then John Olerud singled bringing in Alfonzo. Benny Agbayani followed with a base hit, then Robin Ventura grounded out bringing in Olerud with the third run.

Arizona's Turner Ward hit a two run pinch hit HR in the 5th inning off Reed.

In the 6th, Todd Pratt drew a lead off walk, he was bunted over to second base. Bobby Bonilla then drew a walk & Rickey Henderson singled bringing in Pratt. Edgardo Alfonzo was walked intentionally & Dan Plesac was brought in to pitch.

John Olerud & Roger Cedeno followed with RBI base hits. Darryl Hamilton also singled making it 9-2 Mets, which was the final. The Mets took a two games to one lead, needing just one more win to advance to the NLCS.

Italian / American Player With One Of MLB's Best Beards: Mike Napoli (2006-2012)

Michael Anthony Napoli was born on October 31st, 1981 in Hollywood Florida. The Italian American catcher / first baseman was drafted out of high school in Pembroke Pines, Florida by the Anaheim Angels. In 2004 at A Ball he hit 29 HRs with 118 RBIs getting promoted to AA in 1995 where he hit 31 HRs with 99 RBIs.

By 2006 he was on the Angels roster as their main catcher over Jose Molina. Napoli entered the major leagues with a HR in his first career at bat, coming against the Detroit Tigers. Overall in his rookie year he hit 16 HRs with 13 doubles in 94 games, although he only batted .228. By 2008 he brought his average up to .273 and would hit over 20 HRs in each of the next three seasons.

He competed for the catching job with Jeff Mathis, although Napoli was a far better hitter than Mathis, manager Mike Scioscia prefers a better defensive catcher. Mathis threw out 25% of base runners to Napoli’s 15%, & the Angels staff had better ERA of almost one run when Mathis was behind the plate. Scioscia had a closed door meeting with Napoli about his catching during the summer of ’09. Napoli led all catchers with eight errors in 2009 & his seven passed balls were fifth most in the league. But his power was needed in the Angels line up, he saw more time at DH as well as first base.

In 2010 he had his best Angels season playing in 140 games, with 108 hits, 26 HRs, 68 RBIs, 24 doubles & 60 runs scored. His batting average did fall to .238 & he struck out 137 times (7th in the league). In Anaheim he played in three post seasons, hitting a pair of HRs with four RBIs in the 2007 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

In January 2011 he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells. Four days later he was sent to the Texas Rangers for Frank Francisco. Napoli would share time during the regular season behind the plate (61 games) with veteran Yorvit Torrealba (98 games).

 Napoli would play at first base as well as designated hitter and have an incredible year at the plate. He hit .320 although his 369 at bats did not qualify him in the batting leaders, hit 30 HRs (10th in the league) with 25 doubles & 75 RBIs playing in 116 games over all. He saw more playing time behind the plate in September & by the post season he was the Rangers main backstop.

Post Season 2011: In the 7th inning of Game #3 of the 2011 ALDS he hit a two run HR off Tampa’s Dave Price putting the Rangers ahead 2-1, in a game they would win 4-3. In the Series he batted .357 (4-15). He had a good ALCS against the Detroit Tigers as well, batting .292 with an RBI & six runs scored.

In the World Series he became a household name & a Texas baseball legend as the fans in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex chanted Napoli -Napoli!! In Game #1 he hit a two run HR off Chris Carpenter to tie the game at two, although Texas went onto lose 3-2.

In Game #4 he greeted new pitched Mitchell Boggs with a tremendous three run HR in the 6th inning sealing the Rangers 4-0 win, tying the series at two games each. In Game #5 he came to the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning with the bases loaded & the score tied 2-2. Napoli lined a double to centerfield scoring two runs, leading the Rangers to a three games to two series lead.

In the classic Game #6 he broke a 4th inning 2-2 tie with an RBI single, overall in the series he lead all teams with 10 RBIs. He batted .350 (second for Texas behind Ian Kinsler) with seven hits & two HRs.

In 2012 Napoli returned with a one year deal to avoid arbitration. He  played in 108 games, slugging 24 HRs but his average fell to .227 with 56 RBIs. Texas lost their hold on first place in the final days of the season & lost the first round of the new one game Wild Card Playoff.

For 2013 he signed on with a one year deal for the Boston Red Sox, as the teams primary first baseman. Napoli was second to slugger David Ortiz on the club in HRs (23) & RBIs (92). His 38 doubles were tied with Ortiz for best on the Sox team. Napoli also went down swinging 187 times.

Post season 2013: In the ALDS against the Tampa Rays he went just 2-12. In the ALCS he was the hero of Game #3 at Detroit, hitting a HR off the Tigers' Justin Verlander, while scoring the only run of the game in John lackey's 1-0 victory. In Game #5 he hit a HR off Anibal Sanchez in the Red Sox three run 2nd inning.

In the Red Sox World Series win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Napoli drove in three runs with a double in the Game #1 Red Sox 8-1 victory. He would get just one more hit in the five game series, an RBI single in the clincher game five.

That December he signed another deal with Boston for 2014. In 2014 as the Red Sox fell to fifth place, Napoli struggled all year with injury & sleep issues. He broke his finger in a game against the Chicago White Sox & it plagued him all season. Overall that year he hit .248 with 17 HRs 20 doubles & 55 RBIs.

Napoli suffered from sleep apnea &  under went facial reconstructive surgery to cure the issue up. "I've been dealing with sleep apnea for a long time, my whole career. I've tried numerous things and none of them worked. Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines ... It's just gotten to the point where I have to get this done." The procedure was a success & Napoli moved on.

But 2015 started out just as bad, in 98 games with the Boston Red Sox he hit just .207 & was traded to the Texas Rangers in August. He was used mostly against left handers during his second stint with the Rangers, batting .295 with 5 HRs 10 RBIs in 35 games. After the season he signed a deal with the Cleveland Indians.

Napoli with his Mom
Family: Napoli has a very close relationship with his mother, Donna, who raised him & his brother. "It's a strong relationship, ever since I was a little boy," said Napoli. "My mom worked two jobs to make sure I had everything -- me and my brother. She always made sure I was at practice on time. She made sure I had the right equipment. There's a real strong bond between me and my mother." He sports a tattoo of her had written signature in a rose on his arm. She joked she was honored but with all the other ink on his arm, it's camouflaged.

Party at Napoli's: Napoli was a great success for the first place Cleveland Indians helping them get to the World Series. The popular Napoli inspired a Cleveland fan from Parma, Ohio to come up with a t-shirt slogan "Part at Napoli's" after hearing about the famous bash at his place after the Sox World Championship. The shirt was give to him as a present & when Napoli was seen on a post game interview wearing it, demand was outstanding. The shirt raised $150,000 in monies that went to the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

In just his second game in a Cleveland uniform, he hit a 7th inning HR at Cleveland to help defeat his former Boston Red Sox team mates. The first HR of his season came off Junichi Tarzawa proved to be the game winner breaking the 6-6 tie. He closed out April with 4 HRs & 11 RBIs. He had a huge May driving in 25 runs while hitting 7 HRs. At the end of the month through June 12th he drove in runs in 14 of 19 games while hitting safely in 17 of 19 games. On June 2nd, his 9th inning sac fly was the walk off game winning heat, to beat the KC Royals in a come back Indian win.

He closed out July starting a 16 game hits streak, in that stretch he hit HRs in five straight games & drove in ten runs as well. On August 11th he had a four hit, four RBI day including a three run HR in a 14-4 win over the LA Angeles.

He closed out the season having the best year of his career, having career highs in HRs (34) RBIs (101) bits (133) runs (92) games played (150) & matching his walks total (78). His veteran presence among the young players speaks way beyond the big numbers he put up. 

Quotes: Terry Francona- "The numbers are really good, but all of the other things aren't overstated. I mean, what he's done is legit, and it's powerful. Sometimes you just get lucky along the way where you get pretty special people and you try to take advantage of it."

Post Season 2016: In the ALDS Napoli helped his Indians surprise the Boston Red Sox with a three Game sweep of the series. He went 2-12 in the series with a Game #1 double.

In the ALCS he was quiet for the first two games against the Toronto Blue Jays. But in Game #3 at Toronto, he started out with a 1st inning RBI double & then made history in his next at bat.

He broke a 1-1- with a 4th inning HR that made him just the fifth player in MLB history to hit HRs for four different teams. The Indians went on to a 4-2 win & a commanding 3-03 series lead. They won it in five games, as Napoli went on to his third World Series in just six years, all with different teams.
After the winning the AL pennant early & having a few off days, Napoli encouraged his team to celebrate in Las Vegas but that was rebuffed by management.

In the World Series against the Chicago Cubs, Napoli got a hit & scored the second run of the series in Game #1. In Game #2 he got two hits in the 5-1 loss. As the series moved to Wrigley Field, everyone was looking for a high scoring affair, as  the Cubs hosted a World Series game for the first time since 1945.

But Napoli saw the winds blowing in & told his team mate Andrew Miller that he predicted they would win 1-0 that night. Sure enough Napoli was right as the Indians won a 1-0 squeaker over the Cubs.
He was upset he did not get the start in Game #4, but did come in later to finish it out as the Indians took a 3-1 World Series lead. In the Game #5 loss he got a hit in the 7th inning & represented the tying run, but was left stranded on base.

In his eleven year career Mike Napoli has been to three World Series, playing in eight post seasons batting .234 with 8 HRs & 29 RBIs.

Overall in his career he has played for four teams batting .252 with 238 HRs 213 doubles 678 RBIs a .465 slugging % & a .352 on base %. He has been a catcher, a first baseman, out fielder & DH.

Family: Napoli had been linked to a realation ship with model Alison McDaniel. He currently has been dating nursing student Sophia Phalen.

Oct 29, 2016

Remembering Mets History: 2015 World Series Game #3: Thor Puts The Hammer Down With 9-3 Win

Friday October 30th 2015- World Series Game #3 -Citi Field, Queens New York.

In classic New York Mets style, Billy Joel sang the National Anthem & former Met; Mike Piazza threw out the ceremonial first pitch. A full house roared as the Mets took the field for the first time in a World Series game at Citi Field. The Mets entered the game down two games to none in this world series.

Mets Manager Terry Collins sent Noah Syndergaard (9-7 / 3.24 ERA / 166 Ks) known in New York as Thor, to the mound against Ned Yost's Royals hurler; Yordano Ventura (13-8 / 4.08 ERA / 156 Ks). The Mets needed a bog night from Thor to get back into the series & the 23 year old super hero delivered.

Thor started out the game by throwing a high tight one, sending Royals lead off hitter Alcides Escobar to the dirt. He also sent a message, you guys ain't in Kansas no more!

His fastball was working well & the crowd presence was known. But the Royals are tough, a Ben Zobrist double & a Lorenzo Cain infield hit led to a run as Eric Hosmer grounded into a force.

In the home 1st inning, Curtis Granderson led off with a base hit. And then in dramatic fashion a slumping David Wright, let it be known, it is his town as the Captain blasted a long two run HR to the left field stands.

In the 2nd the Royals scrapped up two more runs, there was a bad call that didn't go Thor's way that should have been a strike out but wasn't. Singles by Salvador Perez, Alex Gordon & Alex Rios led to a run. Then a passed ball gave KC the 3-2 lead.

From there Thor settled down & put the hammer down. He retired 12 in a row getting through six innings. He would allow three runs on seven hits, six strike outs & two walks, giving the Mets just what they needed.

Tonight the offense helped him out as well. In the home 3rd, Syndergaard helped his own cause by driving a base hit to right field. Then "The Grandyman" delivered once again as he lined a HR just over the right field wall down the line just fair. This was one of the reasons they brought in the fences right!! The Mets took a 4-3 lead and never looked back.

Trivia: Granderson has reached base in nine of 12 post season games this year & has hit two World Series HRs. He also ended the 5th inning with another fantastic fielding play saving a double to end the inning.

In the 4th Lucas Duda doubled to lead off & Travis d'Arnaud doubled putting runners on the corners with no one out. Michael Conforto then collected an infield single bringing in Duda making it 5-3 Mets.

The Royals attempted a come back in the 5th inning, but Syndergaard got out of trouble with the bases loaded & killed their momentum.

After the game the Royals complained about Thor's opening pitch which certainly sent a message to them & got them a bit uneasy.

Quotes: Syndergaard said "It's my plate out there not theirs." " I certainly wasn't trying to hit the guy, I just didn't want him getting too comfortable. If they got a problem  with it they can meet me sixty feet six inches from the plate I have no problem with that."

As Thor exited, the Mets added to their lead with a big 6th inning. With one out, Juan Lagares came through with a pinch hit single & then Wilmer Flores was then hit by a pitch.

Next up Juan Uribe, making his first post season appearance since getting injured at the end of the regular season, came through with a pinch hit single bringing in Lagares making it 6-3 New York.

The next play was a grounder to the pitcher; Franklin Morales. Morales didn't know what to do with the ball, first he wanted to throw home but Wilmer Flores scampered back to third, he then threw late to second & the ball got away, everyone was safe, bases loaded.

Next up, Captain David Wright came through again with a two run base hit to center field. Flores & Uribe both scored, making it 8-3.

Trivia: David Wright became the first Met to drive in four runs in a World Series game since Rusty Staub had five in Game #4 of the 1973 World Series against the Oakland A's.

The 6th inning continued as Daniel Murphy walked & Yoenis Cespedes hit sac fly to leftfield, Granderson scored & made it 9-3.

The Mets got great relief from Addison Reed as threw a perfect 7th inning. Reed has now appeared in six post season games (4.2 innings) allowing one run on two hits with two Ks.

After a great rendition from the Citi Field crowd singing Piano Man with Mr. Billy Joel standing there live watching. The Mets went to work as Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect 8th inning as well.

In the 9th, Collins brought on Familia to get some work in & get the taste of the Game #1 HR out of his mouth.

The first out came on a sparkling play by short stop Wilmer Flores, going up the middle throwing out Salvador Perez. Familia then struck out Alex Gordon & pinch hitter Kendrys Morales fittingly ended the game grounding out to David Wright.

Trivia: Noah Syndergaard is the second youngest Mets pitcher to earn a win in a World Series game. Gary Gentry is still the youngest, winning game #3 at Shea in 1969 against the Baltimore Orioles.