Nov 13, 2018

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.

Former Mets Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera (2016-2018)

Asdrubal Jose Cabrera was born November 13th 1985 in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela. The six foot, switch hitting middle infielder, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Seattle Mariners in 2002.

In the minors at just 19 years of age, Baseball America named him the best second baseman in the Midwest League. He quickly jumped right up to AAA level.

In 2006 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Eduardo Perez. He began 2007 at AA ball & was fourth in the league in batting by mid summer. 

He was brought up to the Indians big league club as a second baseman that August. He contributed to the Indians stretch run, batting .283 as they won the Central Division making it to the ALCS.

2013 Post Season: In his first post season game he hit a two run HR against the AL New York team as the Indians clobbered them 12-3. He hit just .176 in that series.

In the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox he drove in four more runs. He would get to one more post season with Cleveland, going 0-4 in the 2013 AL Wild Card Game loss to Tampa.

Cabrera spent eight years in Cleveland making two All Star appearances (2011-2012), having his best season in 2011 when he had 165 hits hitting 25 HRs & 32 doubles with 92 RBIs (all career highs) batting .273.

On May 18th that year, he became just the fifth MLB short stop to ever have a five hit, two HR day.

He would hit over .270 four straight seasons with a career best .308 in 2009 playing 131 games. He would hit 30 plus doubles for four straight years as well (2011-2014). On Opening Day 2013 he hit a 5th inning two run HR off Toronto's R.A. Dickey & made a game saving bases loaded double play grab to preserve the 4-1 Indians win.

He would lead all short stops in errors (19) in 2012 but rebounded with the leagues third best fielding % (.982) in 2013.

Trivia: On May 12, 2008 he turned the 14th unassisted triple play in MLB history, it came against the Toronto Blue Jays. He snagged a line drive, touched second forcing Kevin Mench & then tagged Marc Scutaro to complete the play. 

In July of 2014 he was traded to the Washington Nats for Zach Walters, to help the Nats playoff run, replacing Danny Espinosa. He hit 5 HRs with 9 doubles & 21 RBIs in 49 games as the Nats won the NL East. They would get eliminated in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants. Cabrera hit a HR in the 3-2 Game 31 loss & then drove in a run in Game #3, batting an overall .200. 

In 2015 he signed a one year deal with the Tampa Rays, playing as the teams main short stop posting the 4th best fielding % in the AL (.974). His offensive numbers remained relatively consistent the past few years, in 2015 he hit 15 HRs with 28 doubles 66 runs scored 134 hits five triples & a .265 average.

At the 2015 winter meetings, Cabrera signed a two year deal with the New York Mets for $18.5 million. The addition of the thirty year old Cabrera & second baseman Neil Walker the previous day, gave the Mets a strong solid infield with lots of flexibility .

Cabrera proved to be the Mets answer at short stop, playing 135 games there & posting the second best fielding % in the NL, while turning 77 double plays.

He was a great team mate & was the first Met out of the dugout, when a player hit a HR. He would wait at the edge of the dugout, to celebrate the HR, then pull that players helmet off their head & toss it away.

The importance of Cabrera's bat in the Mets line up didn't really start making a difference until about July. He ended the first three months of the season with until 8 HRs & 23 RBIs & a .255 batting average.

He hit his first Mets HR on April 23rd in a 8-2 Mets win at Atlanta. On June 21st he hit his 7th of the year, coming off the Royals Ian Kennedy in a big 2-1 win at Citi Field over Kansas City. The next day he added a two run HR off Danny Duffy, helping the Mets & Noah Syndergaard to a 4-3 win.

On July 1st, he hit a pair of HRs & drove in three runs in the Mets 10-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. Later that week he hit HRs in back to back games against the rival Washington Nats.

On July 31, 2016, Cabrera strained the patellar tendon in his left knee while rounding third base in a 6-4 win against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Two days later he was put on the DL & missed almost three weeks of action. In that time the Mets realized how much he was missed.

In the time he was gone the Mets fell to their lowest point of the season 60-62 with the wild card seeming like it was never going to happen.

But from the day he arrived back, the rag tag team who had been struck with injuries both on offense as well as pitching, began their incredible stretch run. Cabrera was a huge part of it.

 He returned  to the line up with bleached blonde hair, on August 19th on the Mets road trip in San Francisco. As the Mets went to take two of three in St. Louis, Cabrera started a stretch where he drove in runs in five straight games, with a total of seven in ten games with at least one RBI.

On August 23rd he hit two HRs in the Mets 9-4 win at Philadelphia & then added another the next day. In that week he had 12 hits in six games raising his average to .270, winning the Player of the Week Award.

He began September with HRs in back to back games although the Mets lost both. He went on to a ten game hit streak & hit safely in fifteen of sixteen games, getting his average to .281. He was the NL Player of the Week in that final week of August. 

Quotes: Manager Terry Collins- "I don't know where we'b be without him". In the five weeks after his return he was one of the top hitters in the NL batting .364 with 9 HRs & 22 RBIs.

He was arguably the heart & soul of the team, playing with the injured leg through pain while inspiring the rest of the squad. Before games he wrapped the knee & after games he iced it up. Cabrera said in Spanish: “With my experience, I think I’ve earned that respect from the team and from my teammates. I always try to boost everyone’s spirits.”

On September 22nd he had his most dramatic moment of the year, hitting a three run walk off HR, off Edubray Ramos of the Philadelphia Phillies in the 11th inning leading the Mets to a 9-8 win to stay atop the wild card lead in the NL. On Sunday September 25th, the Mets beat the Phillies 17-0 the biggest lopsided win in team history.

In the 7th inning, Cabrera hit a grand slam HR, his 23rd HR of the season, as the Mets continued to win. In the emotional Mets Marlins game at Florida, after the tragic death of Jose Fernandez, Cabrera had two hits & drove in a pair of runs in the Met loss.

2016 Wild Card Game: Cabrera got one of the four Mets hits off the San Francisco Giants; Madison Bumgarner in the wild card game & also drew a walk.

Cabrera would tie with Yoenis Cespedes for the teams best batting average (.280). He would lead the team in hits (146) & doubles (30) while coming in second with 62 RBIs.

He played in 141 games,  hit 23 HRs scored 65 runs stole 5 bases & posted a .336 on base %. He walked just 38 times & struck out 103 times.

In 2017 Cabrera led the 4th place Mets team in batting (.280) hits (134) & doubles (32). He was second in on base % (.384%) at bats (479) third in RBIS (59) & runs scored (66).

Drama: The Mets used him at short stop, then at second base & third base, a position switch that didn't sit well with Cabrera. The move made way to keep Jose Reyes, a fan favorite, in the lineup. At first he demanded a trade not wanting to give up short stop.

A week later he changes his tune & said he was fine with it. This was the only low point of Cabrera's Mets career, other than that he was one of the better Mets free agent signing.

He began 2017 with three hits & an RBI on Opening Day in the Mets 6-0 win at Citi Field over the Atlanta Braves. He would drive in runs in four straight games in early May. After a multi HR game against the Chicago Cubs in June he missed a week of action with injury. In July from the 22nd to the 28th, he had 12 hits over a seven game span.

In September he hit safely in 13 of 16 games, hitting well enough in the final month to raise his average twenty points from where he was at the end of August. On September 30th, in the final game of the season he had a four hit day, including a three run HR in a 7-4 win over the Phillies.

2018: In 2018 the Mets had one of the best starts in club history (11-1) that is before it all fell apart quickly. Cabrera hit .340 in April with 17 RBIs, starting out with an eleven game hit streak from March 31 to April 13th. He had another four hit day on April 16th, with a HR & two RBIs.

After 98 games he was batting .277 with 18 HRs 23 doubles & 58 RBIs, when his Mets career ended as he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for a minor leaguer. In 49 games with the Phillies he batted .228 with 5 HRs & 17 RBIs, the Phils faded out of the race in September.

Mets Career: In his Mets career he player 374 games batting .279 with 55 HRs 85 doubles & 179 RBIs with a .339 on base %.

In his twelve year career he has hit .269 with 1530 hits 162 HRs 346 doubles 24 triples 477 walks 760 runs scored & 1107 strike outs with a .330 on base% in 1529 games. He has played 1078 games at short 334 games at second 67 at third & was a DH 26 times.

Family: Asdrubal & his wife Lismar have two children. Cabrera earned the nickname Pearls due to the fact he wears a white beaded necklace his wife made for him.

2000 NL Champion Mets Utility Player: Mark Johnson (2000-2002)

Mark Patrick Johnson, was born on October 18, 1967, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The big six foot 230 pounder attended Dartmouth University playing football there at quarterback.

He was also a gifted baseball player, getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1990. His minor league career didn’t take off until 1994 when he hit 23 HRs with 85 RBIs at AA Carolina.

Johnson joined the Pirates team in 1995 batting just .208 in 79 games, but in 221 at bats he hit 13 HRs. In 1996 he became the Pirates main first baseman playing in 127 games; he hit 13 HRs again but had 343 at bats this year. He hit 24 doubles driving in 47 runs posting a .345 on base % batting .274.

Over the next two seasons he only appeared in ten games at the major league level. He was placed on waivers, picked by the Cincinnati Reds then sent to the Anaheim Angels. He also played one season in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers in 1999. In 2000 he was signed as a free agent by the New York Mets. He joined the club in May and debuted as a pinch hitter on May 16th at Shea Stadium against the Colorado Rockies.

He got his first start on May 19th batting 7th & playing left field in game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the 4th inning he drove in his first run grounding out as Robin Ventura scored. On June 26th after not playing for a month he hit a HR against Florida Marlins raising his average to just .200. He remained on the club through the end of July when he was sent to AAA Norfolk after batting just .182. He did not make the post season roster.

He began the 2001 season with the club but after five games in April was sent back down. He returned in early June and hit a three run HR in an interleague game at Tampa Florida. Two days later he hit another during the series finale in Tampa.

On the same road trip he drove in two more runs, at Baltimore but went hitless in three games of the subway series. On July 14th he hit a two run HR driving in both runs helping Glendon Rusch in the Mets 2-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.

One of his career highlights came in Pittsburgh on September 17th in the first game played after the 911 attacks. Johnson came to bat as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning after Rey Ordonez had singled to put the Mets ahead. Johnson doubled to right field just missing a HR, driving in Jay Payton & Ordonez as the Mets won the game 4-1.

In the first game played back in New York on the night Mike Piazza hit his famous 911 HR, Johnson appears on the scorecard but never came to bat, as he never stepped up to the plate after his announcement. In 71 games that season Johnson batted .254 with 6 HRs 6 doubles & 23 RBIs, posting a .338 on base %. He played 21 games at first base & 19 games in the outfield.

He returned for his third season with the Mets in 2002 playing in 42 games but after batting just .137 he was sent to AAA Norfolk in early june. He finished out the year there batting .259 with 14 HRs & 37 RBIs.

In his seven year career Johnson batted .232 with 229 hits 38 HRs 50 doubles 154 walks 137 RBIs & a .338 on base %.

Nov 12, 2018

1973 N.L. Champion Mets Folk Hero Legend: George "The Stork" Theodore (1973-1974)

George Basil Theodore was born November 13, 1947 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He was Nicknamed "The Stork," because team mate Jim Gosger said he looked like a stork & the name stuck.

The tall lanky six foot four right handed outfielder, was an unusual looking ballplayer. He wore thick glasses, had long legs with a hunched over shoulder frame and a long nose. He also has the distinction of being the only Mets player in history to ever be from the state of Utah.

Theodore attended the University of Utah playing baseball with future MLB player Bill Parsons. He was selected by New York Mets way down in the 31st round of the 1969 free agent draft. He hit well in the minors, in 1971 he was the California League MVP for the A ball Visalia Mets batting .333 with 28 HRs. It’s hard to imagine but the Stork was a power hitter, but he was early in his career in the small ball park at Visalia.

In 1972 at AAA Tidewater he hit .296 leading all starting players in batting, he also had 9 HRs with 15 doubles & 76 RBIs. That year as a first baseman he led all International League first baseman in put outs & chances. He made the 1973 Mets team out of Spring Training as a reserve outfielder.

The Stork made his big league debut on April 14th at Shea Stadium, replacing Willie Mays in the 6th inning & struck out in his first at bat. A week after his debut, he got his first hit, a double coming against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of a double header at Shea Stadium.

On April 21st he drove in his first run at the start of a three run rally, in the 6th inning against Montreal’s Balor Moore in a 5-0 Met win. He closed out April hitting safely in five of six games, hitting safely in three straight games on a road trip to Houston & Atlanta.

In May he had a hot series in Los Angeles getting seven hits in fifteen at bats, while driving in two runs. At the end of May he was batting .290 with seven RBIs, playing mostly in the utility role.

The fans soon fell in love with him, due to his unusual appearance and the underdog persona. Theodore became an instant Mets folk hero & legend even though he wasn't a great hitter.

Trivia: To add to his flaky legacy the back of his 1974 Topps baseball card said: “George likes marshmallow milkshakes”.

He once filled out a Mets publicity questionnaire by recording his interests as “astrology, marbles, people watching & psychoanalysis”.

He asked Mets management for a $1000 bonus if he was voted “Most Popular Met”, saying he couldn’t hit much but was very likeable.

In another interview he once said “I've been trying transcendental meditation, and that helps me be passive and wait on the curve. I've got to find something else to hit except the slider." In reality the Stork was a actually very intelligent man, who seemed out of place with other players.

He was seeing more playing time in the summer of '73, due to injuries to most of the Mets regulars. The Stork was playing left field to replace the injured Cleon Jones, until he went down himself.

On June, 3rd Theodore was hit in the eye by a pitch from Gary Ross in the 9th inning at San Diego. It was feared he would lose his sight, but the ever durable Theodore was back in the line up five days later.

In a June game against the San Francisco Giants on national TV, Theodore found himself in left field, next to centerfielder Willie Mays. Mays had been an inspiration to him, just by watching the veteran play & how the fans loved him.

On a ball hit to the gap Theodore rushed over to help out the old timer, Mays. To his surprise Mays had already gotten to the ball, but because he was having arm trouble he tossed it for The Stork to throw in. But Theodore  dropped it, and was charged with an error. Years later Theodore would say it was an honor taking an error from the great Willie Mays.

On June 30th his fielder’s choice run scoring play ended up being the game winning run in Jon Matlack’s 2-1 win. On the 4th of July in Montreal, he had one of the biggest games of his career, going 2-3 with three RBIs. That night he also hit his first career HR, a three run shot off the Expos pitcher- Balor Moore.

On July 7th, 1973 he was involved in a one of the most violent collisions in Mets history, and unfortunately it is what the Stork is best remembered for.
In a game against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium, he had made an error in the 7th inning on a single to left field that allowed a run to score. He was upset at himself and determined to make up for it.

In the next inning Ralph Garr smashed a liner to left center field, Theodore came charging over from left field & crashed into centerfielder Don Hahn who was rushing over from center.

They both went down & lay motionless on the field for a few minutes as Garr rounded the bases with an inside the park home run. Strangely the moment was captured forever in a photograph in the 1974 Mets yearbook next to Theodore’s bio.

Theodore fractured his hip, and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher. In a NY hospital he told reporters he had a dream two weeks earlier that he was being removed from the field on a stretcher carried by Jerry Koosman & Tug McGraw.

He spent a few days in the hospital and was pretty much done for the year except for one pinch hitting role in September.

In May of 2011 he told the Daily News: "I did play two more years, but I was never the same. It changed my life, put me in a new direction, but it's all been good. That's the way it is."

Theodore returned on September 20th. On the season he hit .259 (going 30-116) with one HR four doubles, ten RBIs, 14 runs scored & a stolen base.

He saw action in two games of the 1973 World Series, going 0 for 2 as a pinch hitter.

In 1974 he appeared as a pinch hitter through mid May going hitless in eight at bats. On May 17th he got his first start against the Montreal Expos, getting his first hit of the year & scoring a run in the 5-0 Met win.

He hit his second and last career HR on July 20th in the first game of a double header at San Diego. In the inning Theodore hit the first of three consecutive HRs off the Padres Lowell Palmer.

After Stork's blast, Rusty Staub & Cleon Jones followed with round trippers in the Mets 10-2 win. It was his only RBI of the year, as he struggled most of 1974, finishing up batting .158 (going 12 -76). He played his last career game on the last day of the 1974 season.

In his brief but memorable two year career The Stork was a .219 hitter with 42 hits two HRs, five doubles, 18 walks, 16 RBIs, 21 runs scored & one stolen base in 105 games played. Theodore can say he was in the big leagues and batted in a World Series.

Retirement: After his playing days in 1975 he got his masters degree in social work. Theodore serves as a youth baseball coach and gives counsel to elementary school students. He made a triumphant return to Shea Stadium for the closing ceremonies of Shea Stadium in 2008.

Quotes: Theodore recently said "Fans, they don't seem to forget, I always appreciated them and the attention they gave me. It never was a business to me. Maybe they realized that. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for New York and the Mets.

My wife Sabrina is from Jackson Heights and we met at the end of my career, had a long-distance courtship and we've been married for 33 years. The Mets have always treated me like family and I appreciate that family."

Theodore with Jerry Koosman in 2012