Mar 30, 2017

Former Mets Reliever: Antonio Bastardo (2016)

Antonio Francisco Bastardo was born September 21st, 1985 in the Dominican Republic. The five foot eleven left handed reliever bats right handed. He was signed as an amateur free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005.

He began his career at low A ball going 9-0 with 1.87 ERA blowing away hitters with his fastball. He was used as a started in his early career, spending four full seasons in the minors before getting to the big leagues with the Phillies in 2009 for six games, going 2-3 as a starter. A shoulder injury shut him down for most of the rest of the regular season but he made the post season roster. Bastardo had one appearance in both the 2009 NLDS & NLCS.

Bastardo returned as a reliever for 25 games in 2010, he went 2-0 with 26 strike outs in just 18 innings, finishing up two games. His ERA was a concern at 4.25. He made another appearance in the NLCS loss to the San Francisco Giants. 

In 2011 Bastardo took over the Phils closer role when Ryan Madsen went down with injury. He exceled in the role, going 6-1 with 8 saves & a 2.64 ERA. He posted 70 strike outs in 58 innings with 26 walks. He also recorded 17 holds in the set up role & had himself a 17 inning scoreless streak as well. 

In the off season the Phillies signed Jonathan Paplebon & Bastardo agreed to let him wear his uniform #58. Bastardo switched to #37. The next year he gave that up to Mike Adams & switched to #37.

In 2013 he was involved in some drama, caught up in MLB's Biogenesis performance enhancing drug scandal & was suspended for 50 games. He returned to go 3-2 with two saves & a career best 2.32 ERA in 48 games. As the Phillies went down the tubes, Bastardo remained one of their best pitchers & relivers. In 2014 he went 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA, striking out 84 batters in 64 innings, finishing up 17 games in the teams 89 loss season. That off season he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

In 2015 he was credited with a blown save in his Pirate debut & through the first two months was 0-1 with 5.11 ERA. But by June things turned around, he recorded two wins three days apart in the middle of the month & by July lowered his ERA to 3.13.

In July he notched his first Pirate save, coming at home against the Padres. He earned two more victories in August, and when he came to New York he struck out four Mets in a August 16th two inning appearance.

Bastardo finished the year 4-1 with nine holds & a 2.98 ERA as set up man in a strong Pirates bullpen. Bastardo struck out 64 more batters in 57 innings while walking 26 allowing just 39 hits. In 2015 lefties batted .178 against him. In the Wild Card Game loss to the Chicago Cubs he pitched a scoreless inning as well.

On January 22nd, the 30 year old signed a two year deal with the New York Mets for $12 million. He was added as left handed strength to the Mets bullpen as the bridge to closer Jeurys Familia.

Bastardo made his Mets debut on April 8th, striking out two Phillies in the 9th inning of a 7-2 Mets win. On April 25th he blew his only save as a Met, giving up a base hit to the Reds Joey Votto, tp tie up the game. A Neil Walker HR the next inning gave the Mets the win. 

Bastardo would appear in 41 games for New York, striking out 28 batters while walking 11 giving up 11 earned runs in 24 innings of work, with seven holds. His ERA of 4.64 was not what the Mets wanted. He didn't seem to gel with the players & with the team wanting to give Jon Niese another chance, on August 1st he was traded back to the Pittsburgh Pirates for former Met Jon Niese.

Bastardo would go 3-0 in 28 games with Pittsburgh posting a 4.12 ERA. In an eight year career he is 27-19 with 12 saves, 462 strike outs, 183 walks & a 3.75 ERA in 410 games, 384 innings pitched.

Family: Antonio is married to his wife Maribel.

1986 World Champion Mets Coach: Vern Hoscheit (1983-1988)

Vernard Arthur Hoscheit was born April 1st, 1922 in Brunswick, Nebraska. The five foot nine, catcher, outfielder would spend 12 seasons in the AL New York teams minor league system, never getting to play at the big league level. Overall he batted a career .283 in 1155 games. Hoscheit also served three years military service during World War II.

After his playing days ended he began a long career as a coach & minor league manager. He started out managing the AL New York clubs minor leagues in the late forties & through the fifties. He also was a minor league executive in those years. In the sixties he was a scout & in charge of the instructional League staff for the Baltimore Orioles. In 1968 he was a coach on the Orioles staff.

In 1969 he became a coach for the Oakland A's, staying with them through their dynasty tears as the Swingin' A's or the Moustache Gang, if you prefer. He would be on board for all three A's World Series titles from 1972-1974 under manager Dick Williams & Alvin Dark in '74.

His relationship with Dark never went well & he was replaced by Dark's coaching choices the next year. It was Hoscheit who helped Gene Tenace transform into being a successful catcher & Rollie Fingers into becoming one of the best closers the game ever seen.

He moved on to the California Angels in 1976 as coach, once again under manager Dick Williams. After Williams was dismissed he left baseball & returned to Nebraska, coached a team & ran a liquor store.

By 1983 he was back in baseball, in the Mets organization as manager of the Gulf Coast Mets. In 1984 Davey Johnson who was friends with him back in their Orioles days, brought him up to the Mets big league club. Hoscheit spent 1984-1987 there as a bullpen coach & catchers instructor. In his book, Johnson called him the greatest catchers coach he has ever known.

The players affectionately referred to him as "Dad". In Spring Training of 1986, Hoecheit accurately predict the Mets would clinch the NL Eastern title on September 17th. In a classic '86 Mets brawl ignited by Ray Knight with Eric Davis & Dave Parker, Hoscheit was right in the middle of the ruckus, while George Foster sealed his fate as the only person remaining on the bench.

Quotes: Hoscheit in the 1987 Mets Yearbook-  “The bus leaves in ten minutes, be on it or under it.”

Outside of baseball he co-owned a celebrity fishing camp with Davey Johnson. He also owned a kennel of hunting dogs. He retired from baseball in 1991, settling in Plainview Nebraska. After a long illness he passed away in 2001 at age 85. In his career he earned four World Series rings.

Mar 29, 2017

2015 NL Champion Mets Bronx Born Backup Catcher: Johnny Monell (2015)

Johnny Monell was born on March 27th 1986 in the Bronx, New York. His father Johnny Monell SR. was a catching prospect with the New York Mets in the 1980's, peaking with the AAA Tidewater Tides but never making it to the big leagues.

  Monell SR. also played baseball in Italy, Tawain, Mexico & Puerto Rico. As he & his wife divorced he would get half custody of Monell Jr. Johnny would spend time traveling with his father & grew up around baseball clubhouses.

At seven years old he used to take players equipment & put it in his locker. One day former Met Bernard Gilkey & friends put the kid safely in an equipment bag & hung it on a door. It was their way of telling his father to have him stop taking the others equipment. His father said he let him hang there a bit to teach him a lesson, it was all in fun.

He grew up across from Pelham Bay Park & also played baseball in between the apartment buildings where he lived. He & his friends would hit a tennis ball across to another building & each level was a different hit. It was there he said he learned to hit up the middle.

Quotes:  “You had to hit it up the middle. If you hit the buildings, it was an out. To this day, I’m an up-the-middle, gap hitter. I really think it comes from playing that game at Pelham Park.”

While his father was playing winter ball in Puerto Rico, the 12 year old Monell was shagging fly balls in the outfield. It was then that Cubs catcher; Hector Villanueva told him to put on his catching gear & catch. Next thing you know his father hears his son is catching in the bullpen. From then on, Monell Jr. originally a short stop, became a catcher.

Monell was a baseball star at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx & later attended Seminole Community College in Florida. He was chosen by the San Francisco Giants in 2007 as a 30th round pick.

After six years in the minor leagues he got a big league chance in 2013. He played in 8 games for the Giants batting .125 with an RBI. It was tough for a catcher in the Giants organization with a guy like Buster Posey behind the plate. His contract was purchased by the Baltimore Orioles & LA Dodgers but he never made to their big league clubs. On November 6th, 2015 the New York Mets gave him a shot.

He was invited to the Mets Spring Training in 2015 & impressed with a .357 average in 42 at bats. He was known more of a left handed power bat & not known for being much of a defensive player.

Quotes: “It’s hard to imagine playing in Citi Field, and playing for the Mets, knowing my dad spent his entire career trying to get to the same place. Growing up, it wasn’t that far away, just across the Whitestone Bridge.”

With injury to the Mets main catcher Travis d'Arnaud, Monell got a chance with the Mets. Although highly touted rookie Kevin Plawecki was on board, as well as Anthony Recker, Monell was still getting a chance as the fourth string catcher. He debuted with the Mets on May 9th.

On May 10th, he came into the game as a pinch hitter with the Mets ahead of the Phillies 5-4 at Citizens Bank Park. Monell delivered a two run double scoring Recker & Ruben Tejada. Monell struggled at the plate & saw his average fall to .059. He was sent back to AAA Vegas but returned again at the end of June.

On June 28th he got a start & collected two hits while scoring a run in a 7-2 Mets win over the Reds. In July he had a stretch where he hit safely in four straight games.

On July 6th, he got some revenge on his old Giants team by hitting a two run double in the top of the 9th inning breaking open a scoreless game. He scored the third run on Juan Lagares' base hit. The Mets won it 3-0 as Jonathan Neise pitched one of his best games, a three hit eight inning shut out.

Monell was back down to the minors by late July & was recalled again in September. In 27 games he hit .167 with a pair of doubles & four RBIs. He did not make the post season roster.

He now lives in South Jersey where his father runs a baseball scholl in Margate, New Jersey.

The Only Mets Player To Be Born In England- Former Number One Pick: Les Rohr (1967-1969)

Leslie Norvin Rohr was born on March 5, 1946 and is the only Mets player to be born in England. He was born in the county of Suffolk at Lowestoft, the most easterly town in the United Kingdom, at its home to Ness Point. 

The Rohr family moved to the United States settling in Billings, Montana when Les was a young boy. He went to high school in Billings, Montana and became a star pitcher there.

The big six foot five lefty was chosen by the New York Mets in the first round of the 1965 draft, the number two pick overall behind Oakland’s Rick Monday.

Rohr was a big hard throwing, strikeout pitcher, whom the Mets scout Red Murff compared  to Ray Sadecki saying “he should be a twenty game winner in the majors”. The Mets chose Mr. Rohr ahead of their #12 pick, a Mr. Nolan Ryan.

The six foot five lefty made his debut at Shea Stadium on September 19, 1967 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went six innings earning the victory, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six Dodgers. In his next start he only lasted three innings taking a loss to the Houston Astros.

Rohr was fantastic in his next outing, which came  at Dodger Stadium. He pitched eight innings of shutout ball, striking out seven while beating Don Drysdale. Rohr would go 2-1 with a 2.12 ERA striking out 15 batters in 17 innings pitched. The future looked bright for him as he was being penciled in as a starter on the 1968 team.

But in his first appearance of April 1968 he pulled a tendon in his pitching arm which pretty much ended his career. Rohr came into the game at the Astrodome in the 22nd inning, as the eighth Mets pitcher of the day. He would take the loss as Bob Aspromonte would reach base on an Ed Charles error as the winning run scored in the 24th inning. Rohr would pitch in one more game, but miss the rest of the  season.

The former number one draft pick only made one more MLB appearance, and that was in 1969. He pitched one game in September, as the Pittsburgh Pirates hammered him for four runs in just over an inning of work.

Rohr never recovered from his injury and when the Mets tried to trade him to the Atlanta Braves, it was discovered he had a ruptured disc in his lower back. His career was over at age 23. He was with the team, although not in uniform during the 1969 World Series & celebrated with the team in the clubhouse.

Retirement: After baseball he went into the concrete business and  became a high school pitching coach. He now operates the Big Rohr Pitching School in Billings, Montana. 

For many years now, he has been seen driving around town in a ’72 pickup truck with a license plate that reads “69 Mets”. He was invited to the 40th anniversary ceremonies by the team & they offered to pay all expenses.

The humble Rohr, declined because he felt he did not contribute enough to the 1969 team. "Sure, I'd love to see those guys again, but I don't know whether they want to see me," Rohr said with a laugh. "They probably would. I didn't do much, but it's still an honor to be associated with the '69 Mets." he said.

Mar 28, 2017

Remembering Mets History (1962) The New York Mets First Game

Wednesday April 11th 1962: This historic day in Mets history marks the very first ball game the National League New York Mets ever played. The game was played at the old Sportsman Park in St. Louis, Missouri in front of 16,147 fans.

The Mets were the new National League New York team, one of two new NL teams that year, the other being the Houston Colt 45's, later to be renamed the Astros. the Mets donned blue & orange colors, in honor of the departed New York Giants & Brooklyn Dodgers who had left for California in 1957 (but that's another story).

The Mets manager was “the old professor” Casey Stengel. Stengel was 72 years old in 1962 and had been a successful player & manager, since forever.

Stengel was a lifetime .284 hitter who went on to win seven World Series titles as a manager. He was one of select few to have played and or managed all four New York baseball teams. Stengel was a walking Mets public relations machine, giving them the moniker “The Amazing Mets”.

As Stengel once said “when a baby Mets fan is born his first words aren’t mommy or daddy its Metsie, Metsie”. A term Met legend Keith Hernandez uses today all the time on tv broadcasts. Stengel is a member of the baseball Hall of Fame & was the first Met to have his uniform number (#37) retired by the Mets.

The Mets starting line up that day was a rag tag of veteran players, as expansion in those days was different than the developing of a new team in todays times. The starting pitcher was Roger Craig who was to suppose to start the home opener the next day, but he had to start since scheduled pitcher Sherman "road block" Jones had burned himself on a team flight. The saga of the '62 Mets just began...........

Starting Lineups

Ritchie Ashburn stepped up to the plate in the top of the 1st inning as the first batter in Mets history. He flew out to center field, the second batter was Felix Mantilla, he grounded out. Charlie Neal was next & flew out to right, Mets history was under way.

In the bottom of the 1st, Craig got Curt Flood out but then gave up a pair of singles & Hall of Famer Stan Musial singled in the first run against the Mets. Future Met Ken Boyer drove in the next.

In the 2nd inning, former Cincinnati Red; Gus Bell got the first Mets hit, a single to center field. After Gil Hodges flew out in his Mets debut, Con Zimmer got the second Mets hit.

In the 3rd inning, Ashburn singled to left field & Felix Mantilla walked. Then Charlie Neal drove in the first run in Mets history with a base hit & slugger Frank Thomas the second with a sac fly.

In the 4th, after the Cards went ahead 5-2, future Mets manager Gil Hodges led off the inning by hitting the first HR in Mets history. It was #363 of his great career. In the 5th inning,

Charlie Neal hit the second HR in Mets history, a line drive shot that carried right over the fence. Neal had the best day of all the Mets hitters going 3-4 with a HR, and two RBIs. Neal would also make the first error in Mets history when he booted a grounder in the sixth inning, helping the Cards as they scored four runs in the inning.

On the mound, Roger Craig was done by the 4th inning, giving up five runs on eight hits. He recorded the first Mets strike out by a pitcher, fanning catcher Gene Oliver. In the 4th inning, Bob Moorehead became the Mets first relief pitcher to come out of the bull pen.

The Mets would lose their first nine games before winning on April 23rd, 1962 at home in the Polo Grounds. The 1962 Mets went on to lose a record 120 games while winning only 40.

Trivia: The 1962 coaching staff behind Casey Stengel consisted of Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby, former Brooklyn Dodger Cookie Lavagetto, Red Ruffing, Solly Hemus, & Red Kress.

Ritchie Ashburn: Ashburn was a longtime Philadelphia Phillies legend, a five time All Star getting inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in 1995. A life time .308 hitter, and winner of two NL batting titles. He was the Mets first All Star & first .300 hitter. After the terrible losing 1962 season he retired & became a longtime Phillies broadcaster until his death in 1997. He suffered a heart attack & died in New York after broadcasting a Mets Phillies game. His #1 is retired by the team and Ashburn Alley is named in his honor at Citizen Banks Park.

Felix Mantilla: Mantilla was Hank Aaron's roommate with the Milwaukee Braves & was a member of their 1957 World Championship team. With the 1962 Mets he had 11 HRs 59 RBIs and hit .275. He was sent to the Boston Red Sox the next season where he had some good years, hitting 30 HRs in 1964 & driving in 92 runs in 1965.

Charlie Neal: A member of the Brooklyn/ L.A Dodgers who had his best season in 1959 when they won the World Series. That year he made the All Star team, won a gold glove, batted .287, scored over 100 runs & led the league in triples. Neal hit .260 for the 1962 Mets with 11 HRs & 9 triples playing a solid defense. He was traded to the Reds the next season. Neal passed away in 1995 at age 64.

Frank Thomas: Thomas would hit 34 HRs in 1962, a Met record until Dave Kingman hit 37 HRs in 1975. Thomas was a journey man outfielder who hit 266 career HRs, including twelve straight years in double figures. He was second in the NL with 35 HRs in 1958 & appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Thomas who had studied to be a priest before baseball, was on the top 40 all time HR list when he retired. He was on hand for the closing ceremonies at Shea Stadium in 2008.

Gus Bell: Bell was a four time All Star who had hit over .290 six times in twelve previous seasons. Bell was a power hitter had four 20 plus HR & 100 plus RBI seasons. He was a team mate of Ralph Kiner with the Pirates & then a hero in his hometown of Cincinnati with the Reds. Gus only hit .149 in 30 games with the 1962 Mets and was traded to the Milwaukee Braves. Gus is the father of a rare three generation baseball family, his son Buddy Bell was a long time player & manager, and his grand children David & Mike were also MLB players. Gus passed away in 1995 at age 67.

Don Zimmer: Zimmer went on to a successful baseball career as a player, coach & manager. He was a Brooklyn Dodger utility infielder, having his career affected by a terrible beaning that put him in the hospital & almost left him blind ending his career. He was a member of the 1955 & 1959 Dodger championship teams. Zimmer batted .235 lifetime and only hit .077 in 14 games with the 1962 Mets, before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

Hobie Landrith: Landrith was the Mets first pick in the 1961 draft. Manager Casey Stengel justified the choice saying "You gotta have a catcher or you're gonna have a lot of passed balls. He was a career backup catcher with seven different teams batting .233 lifetime. In 45 games with the 1962 Mets he hit .289 before going to the Baltimore Orioles in a trade for Marv Throneberry.

Roger Craig: Craig was a former Brooklyn/L.A. Dodger who was a member of the 1955 & 1959 Dodger Championship teams. In the ’59 season he went 11-5 with a 2.06 ERA. He would spend two seasons with the Mets losing twenty games both years. He would have success years later as pitching coach of Detroit Tigers & is credited with developing the split finger fast ball. He then went on to manage the San Diego Padres & San Francisco Giants taking them to the 1989 Earthquake World Series. 

Bob Moorehead: Moorehead would spend two years with the Mets never winning a game going 0-3. In 1962 he went 0-2 giving up 118 hits in 108 innings.

Of course Gil Hodges had a spectacular career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, winning the 1955 World Series there & the 1959 World Series in Los Angeles. He then became a successful Manager with the Washington Senators & New York Mets. He led the Mets to the Amazing 1969 World Championship & had his uniform #14 retired. Hodges passed away from a fatal heart attack in 1972.

Mid Nineties Mets Outfielder: Alex Ochoa (1995-1997)

Alex Ochoa was born on March 29, 1972 in Miami Lakes Florida. He was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1991 draft. 

Over the next four seasons Baseball America had his rated along the top fifty prospects each season, peaking at #35 in 1995. He hit over .290 three times in his first four seasons getting up to the AA ball level. 

He eventually got traded to the New York Mets with Damon Buford (son of former 1969 Oriole Don Buford) in July 1995 in exchange for Bobby Bonilla.

After landing at AAA Tidewater he batted .309 in 34 games with two HRs six doubles & 15 RBIs before getting called up to the big leagues in September. He made his MLB debut on September 18th, 1995 getting a hit in his first at bat stealing a base & scoring a run against the Braves in a 7-1 Mets loss at Atlanta.

As a September call up he hit .297 going 11-37, with four multi hit games in eleven games played. There was a lot of hype for the highly touted prospect Ochoa, for the future. In 1996 he began the year at AAA Tidewater, where he hit .339 getting called up to the Mets on June 22nd.

In his first game back up, he singled & drove in two runs helping the Mets to a 5-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He would have eleven hits in eight games entering July batting .344. On July 3rd, he had a monster day in Philadelphia, hitting for the cycle in the Mets 10-6 win over the Phillies. 

He went 5-5 that day with a single in his first at bat. He then tripled off Terry Mulholland in the 4th inning, scoring Todd Hundley. He hit a solo HR in the 8th inning & had a pair of doubles with three RBIs and three runs scored in the 10-6 Mets win. 

In the first two weeks og the month he drove in fourteen runs. He had raised his average up to .390 in his first two weeks back in the majors. At the end of July he was still hitting well batting .312 and remained steady through the season. In September he hit safley in ten of twelve games keeping his average over .300, but he went hitless in his final three games, which had him finish off with a .294 batting average. In 82 games he hit four HRs with 19 doubles 33 RBIs 37 runs scored & a .336 on base %.

In 1997 he began as the Mets main right fielder but struggled at the plate, no getting over the .200 mark until mid June. Eventually Manager Bobby Valentine used the slow footed Butch Huskey in right field more often. Ochoa began to hit better in the summer months, including a rare game winning HR in the top of the 10th inning against the Braves in Atlanta on July 13th. On September 10th he had a four hit, three RBI day against the Phillies in a big Mets 10-2 win at Shea Stadium.

Overall he saw action in 113 games as a fifth outfielder posting the league fourth best fielding % in right field (.982%). His batting average dropped to .244 with three HRs 22 RBIs & a .300 on base %. At the end of the season he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Rick Becker who hit .190 in 49 games for the 1998 Mets.

Ochoa batted .288 in Minnesota and then was sent to the Milwaukee Brewers as a player to be named later. In Milwaukee he had a fine season, batting .300 with a .404 on base % along with eight HRs & 40 RBIs playing in 119 games.

Next year he was sent to the Cincinnati Reds where he had career highs in batting average (.316) HRs (13) & RBIs (58). He was the teams fourth outfielder behind Dante Bichette, Dimitri Young & Ken Griffey. That year the Reds finished second under Jack McKeon going 85-77. 

Over the next two years he would play for three teams; Colorado Rockies (2001) hitting a career high 30 doubles between there & the Reds, batting .276. 

In 2002 he played back in Milwaukee & then in Anaheim with the World Champion to be Angels. He saw action in all three post season series, going 2-4 as a pinch hitter in the ALCS against the Minnesota Twins.

Ochoa never hit near the .300 level again. In 2003 he went to play in Japan for & stayed there for four seasons. After an eight year MLB career he batted .289 with 587 hits playing for seven different teams. He also hit 46 HRs with131 doubles 261 RBIs  56 stolen bases & a .344 on base %. 

Retirement: In 2009 he became an assistant coach for the Boston Red Sox. In 2010 he was a Red Sox special assistant for baseball operations. In 2011 he served as batting coach at A ball Salem.

Mar 26, 2017

Comparing Matt Harvey's 2013 Start to Nolan Ryan's 1970 Start

Matt Harvey is one of three pitchers to begin a season with at least 25 strike outs in his first three games. It is the second time in Mets history that it has been done, the other Mets pitched to do it; was future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan in 1970. Lets take a look at the two Mets pitchers, first three games, 43 years apart.

NOLAN RYAN -1970: On April 18th, 1970 Nolan Ryan took the mound at Shea Stadium for the first time in the young season for the reigning World Champion Mets. His last appearance had been World Series Game #3 at Shea, pitching in relief of Gary Gentry in the Mets 5-0 win. The shutout was saved by the two spectacular catches from Tommie Agee.

In the April 18th 1970 game, Ryan went up against the Phillies Jim Bunning. It was Bunning back on Fathers Day 1964, who pitched a perfect game against the Mets at Shea. But todays game was all about the Mets & Nolan Ryan.

Ryan went out & pitched the fourth one hitter in Mets history. The Phillies Denny Doyle led off the game with a single & it would be the only Philadelphia hit on the day. Ryan did walk six batters, but allowed no runs & struck out 15 batters, impressing everyone. It was quite a day for the 23,000 in attendance.

The Mets scored three runs in the first, with base hits from Tommie Agee, Bud Harrelson & Joe Foy. An error & a fielder's choice off the bat of Art Shamsky made up the three runs. In the third, Shamsky knocked Bunning out of the game with an RBI double, putting New York up 5-0. Kenny Boswell & Tommie Agee added late inning HRs to complete Ryan's 7-0 shutout.

In Ryan's next start, he pitched a classic pitcher's duel at Dodger Stadium in Los Angles. He was on the losing end of a 1-0 loss to Claude O'Steen. In this game Ryan only allowed two hits, & struck out five. One of Ryan's problems in the early years was his wildness, something that didn't make Manager Gil Hodges too happy. Ryan walked five & hit a batter.

In the bottom of the third inning, Billy Grabarkewitz was hit by a Ryan pitch & advanced on a sacrifice. Then legendary base stealer Maury Wills singled driving in the only run of the game. It was also the last hit of the game for the Dodgers, but Ryan took the loss.

In his third outing of the year, he had another outstanding outing in San Francisco. The Mets backed him with two early runs in the first inning off Mike McCormick. Joe Foy drove in two runs with a single, later Cleon Jones added an RBI single as well & the scoring was topped off by a Tommie Agee HR, once again. Ryan pitched a three hit, one run victory against the Giants, striking out eight batters, this time walking eight.

In his first three starts he had struck out 28 batters in 26 innings pitched, allowing just two earned runs (0.69 ERA). He walked an incredible 19 batters & had a 2-1 record.

MATT HARVEY 2013: Matt Harvey began the 2013 season with a lot of excitement surrounding him after a fantastic debut in 2012.

He started the second game of the Mets season, against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field. Harvey struck out the first two batters he faced & allowed the only hit of his day in the 4th inning to Everth Cabrera. Harvey went on to strike out ten Padres over seven innings, allow no runs on the one hit & walked two. The Mets came up big with eight runs, led by two run HRs from John Buck, Ike Davis & Lucas Duda.

His second start was in Philadelphia, a 7:05 start against Roy Halladay, in front of 35,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets gave him support right away, as the hot John Buck blasted a three run HR in the 2nd inning & Lucas Duda had an RBI single in the 3rd. Harvey gave up a sac fly RBI to Ryan Howard, the only run he allowed on the day. The Mets came back knocking out Halladay in the 5th, with four hits including a two run single from Ruben Tejada & an RBI single from David Wright.

Harvey rolled along striking out seven Phillies through seven innings, one earned run, three hits & a pair of walks.

On Saturday April 13th, Harvey took the mound on a cold afternoon in Minnesota in front of 29,000 brave Minneapolis fans. Harvey may have been at his finest on this cold day, flirting with a no hitter into the 7th inning. Harvey had allowed just two walks into the seventh inning, then Justin Morneau blasted a HR down the right field line breaking up the no hitter.

Harvey earned his third win of the year, leading the NL in wins, allowing just one run on two hits while striking out six. Through his first three games he has struck out 25 batters in 22 innings, posting a 0.82 ERA.

The comparisons between Harvey & Ryan are incredible, some 47 years later. Harvey was just what the Mets need to turn the organization around, just as some other pitchers have done in the past. Remember Dwight Gooden's arrival in 1984 or Tom Seaver's arrival in 1967?

Mar 25, 2017

New York Mets Minor League Infielder: L.J. Mazzilli (2013-2017)

Lee Louis Mazzilli Jr. was born September 6th, 1990 in Greenwich, Connecticut. Known as L.J. he has a twin sister Lacey, as well as a second sister, Jenna. As a child his mother Dani would toss baseballs at him in the yard while his father, Lee Mazzilli was still playing in his MLB career.

The six foot one, right hand hitting infielder; Mazzilli Jr. attended Greenwich High school, but found that the baseball program was not he main sport, falling behind to to lacrosse & football. Mazzilli then transferred to Iona College in New Rochelle, NY & eventually to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida in his senior year.

He then attended the University of Connecticut playing at second base for the UConn Huskies. He was offered a contract by the Minnesota Twins as a ninth round pick in his freshman year. He declined the offer & by his senior year he signed as a fourth round pick, with the New York Mets. That year he hit .354 with 29 stolen bases & 52 RBIs for the UConn Huskies.

Of course, in 2013 there was some fan fare as Lee joined the Mets organization playing for the A ball Brooklyn Cyclones. Brooklyn being the original home town of his Dad. Lee, making it a great thrill for the entire Mazzilli family. LJ Mazzilli made the New York Penn. League All Star game that year, batting .278 with 12 doubles 4 HRs & 34 RBIs in 70 games on the season. 

In 2014 he was promoted to A ball Savannah, batting .292 with 7 HRs 45 RBIs in 66 games for the sand gnats. He was promoted to A ball+ St. Lucie where he batted .312 with 4 HRs 34 RBIs in 64 games. He closed out the year with a game at AAA Las Vegas going 1-5 in the PCL playoffs.

Drama: Unfortunately in the off season, he tested positive for what MLB said was a drug  of abuse. Young Mazzilli apologized to the fans in a statement released by the Mets. 

"Unfortunately in life, you cannot go back on a bad decision that was made, and in my case, one that I very much regret. After everything my loved ones, supporters and the N.Y. Mets have given me, especially an opportunity to chase my childhood dream, I couldn't be more ashamed and sorry."

"I am fully ready to own up to my mistake and accept the repercussions from Major League Baseball. I have learned the hard way that nothing in this life is as important as being a good representative of yourself, your legacy, your family, and contributing positively to society. I am ready to move forward positively in my life and in my career."

He was banned from 50 games as a suspension. During that time he fell back on his father, Lee for support & baseball advice. In the past the young Mazzilli felt he had something to prove on his own & didn't rely on his father as much as he should have.

Quotes: “I didn’t really use my dad that much. I tried to do it on my own, and this year is a totally different approach. It was kind of an up-and-down, roller-coaster year last year for me, so this year I went to my dad and said, ‘OK, Dad, whatever you got.’

The Mazzilli's got help from Bobby Valentine, at his sports academy that off season. He returned to play five games at A Ball St. Lucie, then moved on to AA Binghamton where in 86 games he hit .263 without any HRs & 23 RBIs. He then played winter ball in the Arizona Fall League.

In 2016 he played 109 games at AA Binghamton with 4 HRs 13 doubles 36 RBIs while batting .240. The Mets then promoted him to AAA Las Vegas in August, where in 13 games he hit .240 with 5 doubles one HR & seven RBIs.

In 2017 he was invited to Mets Spring Training, wearing his fathers old uniform #13. Midway through Spring Training he was batting over .300 but then fell off & as of 3/22/17 he was hitting .182 with a HR & 4 RBIs in 22 at bats.

Family: LJ's sister Lacey was a cheerleader at UConn & has been an on air host for the A.L. New York club.