Mar 29, 2018

Remembering the Great Rusty Staub (1944-2018)

Although it is Opening Day, it is a sad day in Mets history as Rusty Staub has passed away.

As a life long Mets fan, obsessed with the 1973 Mets NL Championship team, I know how important Rusty Staub is in Mets history. Not only one of the best players to wear the orange & blue but one of the proudest New Yorkers who did a bunch of things for the City he adopted & loved. For many years he ran a Restaurant in Manhattan on the Upper East Side, displaying his love for food.

Rusty with his legendary reddish hair, was known as "Le Grande Orange" from his days in Montreal. He would play with the Mets on two different tours, both during winning era's.

The younger Staub was brought over in a major trade in 1972. He was the clubs steady right fielder & although just 29 years old, he brought leadership with a veteran presence, as he already had ten years in the league. Staub would be the face of the offense, the hitting star of a star studded pitching dominated team, that went on to win the 1973 NL Pennant.

He led the '73 club in RBIs (76) doubles (36) walks (74) & on base % (.361%). He was second on the team in batting (.279)  games played (153) Hits (163) runs scored (77) & slugging (.421%).

When he got to the NLCS against the Big Red Machine, he got just three hits, but they were all HRs coming in the first two Mets victories. He would lead both teams with most HRs (3) & RBIs (5) in that series. In Game #4 he made a spectacular catch, crashing into the Shea wall saving two runs & injuring his shoulder. He couldn't play in the Game #5 pennant clincher or in Game #1 of the 1973 World Series. 

Staub needed cortisone shots throughout that World Series, but was back in the line up for Game #2. He played through so much pain & discomfort that he had to throw the ball underhanded.

At the plate, he led both teams in batting (.423) slugging (.615%) hits (11)&  RBIs (6). He topped the Mets with in on base % (.464) & doubles (2). He had a monster Game #4 at Shea Stadium with a HR & 4 RBIs. One can only imagine if he was 100%. Staub made the best of it, as it was his only post season in 23 years of MLB action.

Two years later (1975) he became the first Met to drive in over 100 runs, his 105 RBIs were a Mets record for 15 years (1990). In one of many mid to late 70's front office debacles, Staub was traded to Detroit in 1976, where he was second in the AL in RBIs (121) in 1978. 

Staub returned for a second tenure with the Mets in 1981, arriving at a low point in Mets history but being there as they rose to being one of the league's best teams. By now he was older & a bit heavier but still made a huge impact. He would become one of the game's best pinch hitters in those years & his veteran presence was huge on the younger players. He retired in 1985 just one season before the Mets won the World Series.

He is the only player in MLB history to have 500 hits with four different teams & his career numbers should have gotten him more consideration for the Hall Of Fame than he got.

In his retirement chef Staub continued cooking, was a broadcaster for Mets, became the Mets social ambassador for private & corporate functions. But most importantly he his charity works, showed the kind of person he was. He started the Rusty Staub Foundation, supporting food pantries through out NY in collaboration with Catholic Charities. He also created the NY Police & Fire Widows' & Children Benefit Fund, raising millions of dollars, especially for those victims families after 911.

After a heart attack two years ago & other health issues, notably kidney problems last month, Rusty Staub passed away in West Palm Beach Florida at age 73.

Rusty Staub will be missed but always be remembered.

His good friend Keith Hernandez broke down during an Opening Day press conference "It's a tough day, he was the one that got me to live in the city. When I came at the start of the season in '84, I was single, he said "we'll you got to live in the city". He was the one that introduced me to the city & all it had to offer. He's just been a great friend. But he was in a lot of pain. He's in a better place."

Tom Seaver: "So sad, Rusty was a close, close friend. Great teammate. He visited me often out here in the vineyard. I will miss him. Most of all I will miss his energy. Everything he did was at 90 miles an hour."

The Mets issued the following statement: The family suffered a loss earlier today when Daniel “Rusty” Staub passed away. The entire organization sends its deepest sympathy to his family. He will be missed by everyone.

Mar 28, 2018

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Scott Atchison (2013)

Scott Barham Atchison, was born March 29th 1976, in Denton, Texas. The six foot two, right hander attended Texas Christian University at Fort Worth, where he was earned four letters & was All Conference twice. He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 49th round of the 1998 draft.

He spent seven years in the minor leagues, three at the AAA level with Tacoma. In 2004 he was 5-3 with seven saves, getting a call up to the Mariners.

Atchinson would make his MLB debut on July 31st, finishing up a 9-8 loss to the Angels in Anaheim. On August 5th he earned his first career win, as he pitched two innings at Tampa in a 4-2 over the Rays. In 25 games he was 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 25 games. He played in just six games for Seattle the next year.

After spending 2006 in the minors he signed with the San Francisco Giants where he appeared in 22 games. At the end of the year he refused assignment from the Giants to reports to Fresno & became a free agent.

In 2008 he signed with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan, pitching there for two seasons. In 2010 he signed as a free agent back in the majors with the Boston Red Sox. He went 2-3 there with 43 appearances in 2010 posting a 4.50 ERA. He played parts of three seasons with Boston, posting a 1.53 ERA in 2012, with a 2-1 record over 42 appearances.

In 2013 he signed with the New York Mets & made the club out of Spring Training at age 37. He made his Mets debut on Opening Day, pitching a scoreless 8th inning in the 11-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

He was credited with three holds in April, but a rough outing in Colorado on April 18th, where he allowed three runs, while not recording an out blew his ERA to 4.22. An injury in mid May, held him down until July. He came back going to A ball St. Lucie, then to AA Binghamton.

On July 14th he returned to the Mets & continued to see late relief action. On August 6th, he earned a win against the Rockies, when Juan Lagares broke a 2-2 tie with an 8th inning RBI single. In the next two weeks he went 1-2 , including taking a 10th inning loss against the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field.

In September he recorded five holds & took another 10th inning loss on September 28th, in a 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. In 51 appearances he was 3-3 with ten holds, posting a 4.37 ERA striking out 28 batters, walking 12 & allowing four HRs in 45.1 innings.

He was granted free agency & signed with the Cleveland Indians in January 2014. He enjoyed success in Cleveland going 6-0 with two saves & a 2.75 ERA in 70 appearances.

In his eight year career he is 16-10 with three saves, 241 strike outs & 85 walks in 327 innings in 275 games.

Mar 22, 2018

Mid Nineties New York Born Mets Relief Pitcher : Mike Remlinger (1995)

Michael John Remlinger was born on March 23rd, 1966 in Middletown, New York. He attended high school in Plymouth, Massachusetts & then went to Dartmouth College.

The six foot left hander is just one of two recent major league players to come out of Dartmouth. Remlinger was selected as a first round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants (16th pick overall) in 1987.

In his first season at A ball he went 6-3 & then did not post another winning minor league record until 1995. He got a June call up back in 1991 debuting with a three hit shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went 2-1 into mid July before being sent back down. Later that winter he was traded to the Seattle Mariners along with Kevin Mitchell for Dave Burba, Bill Swift & Michael Jackson.

Two years later he signed with the New York Mets as a free agent. In 1994 he went 2-4 with a 3.14 ERA in twelve games at AAA Norfolk.

In 1995 he made the club out of Spring Training & pitched on Opening Day at Colorado against the Rockies.

His Mets debut was not a good one, in the 13th inning he gave up a double to John Tatum tying the game in which the Mets had just taken a lead. In the top of the 14th Joe Orsulak doubled home Ricky Otero to give the Mets another lead. But in the bottom of the 14th after allowing a single & having another runner reach base on an error,

Remlinger served up a walk off HR to Dante Bichette. He would pitch in just five games for the Mets, going 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA allowing four earned runs in 5.2 innings. On an early May road trip to Cincinnati he was traded to the Reds fr minor leaguer Cobi Cradle.

Remlinger pitched three seasons with the Reds going 8-18 in 1997 as both a starter & reliever. The next year he made 28 starts falling to 8-15 (3rd most losses in the NL) with a 4.82 ERA, throwing one shut out. On November 10, 1998 he was Traded along with Bret Boone to the Atlanta Braves for Rob Bell, Denny Neagle and Michael Tucker.

In 1999 he helped the NL Champion Braves coming out of the bullpen, by going 10-1 with 21 holds & posting a 2.37 ERA in 73 appearances. He was the losing pitcher in Game #4 of the NLCS against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

In the 8th inning he allowed Roger Cedeno to steal second base & then walked Melvin Mora. He was relieved by John Rocker who allowed each runner to steal their next bases, & then gave up the game winning hit to John Olerud.

The runs were charged to Remlinger who got the losing decision. Overall he appeared in five of the six games posting a 3.18 ERA. He pitched five successful seasons in Atlanta getting to four post seasons & making one All Star game (2002).

He was one of baseballs top middle reliever set up men in a few of those seasons.

In 2002 he was 7-3 with a 1.99 ERA making 73 appearances. That off season he signed a deal with the Chicago Cubs going 6-5 getting to another post season.

Post Season: He appeared in five games of the NLCS, including closing out the famous eight run 8th inning in Game #5, against the Florida Marlins.

While pitching for the Cubs in 2003 he salvaged pieces of the bat used by Sammy Sosa which was found to have cork inside of it. He recently auctioned the pieces off.

He pitched in Chicago from 2003-2005, also pitching in Boston for a brief eight games in 2005. He ended his career back in Atlanta In 2006 going 2-4.

In his 14 year career he was 53-55 with a 3.90 ERA, striking out 854 batters walking 430 in 879 innings while making 639 appearances (140th most games all time).

Mar 18, 2018

Remembering Mets History: (2015) Wilmer Flores Walk Off HR

On July 29th 2015- In a snowballing social media frenzy, it was reported that the Mets had traded Wilmer Flores to the Milwaukee Brewers along with Zack Wheeler in exchange for former Met; Carlos Gomez. When Flores came to bat the fans gave him a standing ovation & began shouting to him from the stands that he had been traded.

When he took the field in the top of the inning, the young Flores began to shed tears in a very emotional scene. It was a very upsetting for the young man who had been in the Mets organization since he was 16 years old.

With no official word coming from the TV broadcast it was still unclear what was happening. In the 9th inning, Manager Terry Collins was seen talking to Flores in the dugout as he removed him from the game. Mets Captain David Wright, Veteran Michael Cuddyer & Flores' friend Ruben Tejada followed Wilmer into the run way to support him.

After the game Manager Terry Collins was upset in his press conference, saying he knew nothing about a deal being made & had a game to win. Mets GM Sandy Alderson reported that no deal was going to happen.

The aftermath surrounding the incident was incredible. The media were all over the Mets organization (again) for the debacle & the Mets fans took Flores side. All of the baseball world & America cheered Flores. He soon became Citi field's sweetheart.
The Mets lost that game & the next one as well.

July 31st 2015: With the Mets having just announced late that afternoon that they had acquired Yoenis Cespedes in a last minute deal, the excitement around the club was a complete turn around from the low points of that week. The Mets (53-50) were still two games behind Matt Williams Washington Nats (54-47) as they went head to head at Citi Field in front of 36,164 Mets fans.

The starters were Matt Harvey for the Mets & Geo Gonzales for Washington.

As Flores stepped up to the plate in the 2nd inning, he was greeted with a standing ovation in his first start since the "crying incident". He grounded out weakly to third base. In the 4th, Juan Uribe & Travis d'Arnaud had both walked. Flores then came up & delighted the fans as he drove in Uribe with an infield single to Ian Desmond.

Meanwhile Matt Harvey had not allowed a hit & had struck out six through the first five innings. He gave up his first two hits in the 6th but still shut out the Nats into the 8th inning clinging to a one run lead. The Nats tied it up on a Yunel Escobar base hit scoring pinch runner, Danny Espinsosa.

The game would remain tied to the 12th inning as Tyer Clippard, Jeurys Familia, Hansel Robles & Carlos Torres held down the fort.

In the bottom of the 12th, Wilmer Flores led off the inning & blasted a dramatic walk off HR off Felipe Rivero, winning the game & placing himself among the cult heroes of Mets history.

Flores team mates & the fans went wild & all of America cheered for it's new hero- Wilmer Flores. It was an exciting moment & one to be remembered forever for the kid who loved being a Met so much he didn't want to be traded.

Quotes: Terry Collins- "You cant write that"

Mar 14, 2018

Remembering Mets History (2005): Chris Woodward Has Two Walk Off Hits In A Month's Time

Tuesday July 19th 2005: Willie Randolph's Mets (47-46) were playing the best ball they had played in nearly six years.

Tonight they hosted Bruce Bochy's first place San Diego Padres (50-44). The 2005 Padres would lose the NLDS in a sweep to the St. Louis Cardinals. Tonight's starters were Kris Benson & Brian Lawrence.

The game was scoreless until the 5th inning, when Khalil Greene hit a solo HR. In the bottom of the inning, Cliff Floyd also led off with a solo HR tying the game.

The 1-1 score remained until the 11th inning as both bullpens kept the other team down. Kris Benson took the Mets through seven innings, as Dae Sung Koo, Roberto Hernandez & Braden Looper got the Mets to the 11th.

In the 11th Mike Piazza singled to left field with one out. Chris Woodward then hit a walk off HR off Chris Hammond, to win the game. It was his third HR of the year. The Mets swept the Padres & won six of seven that week.

Saturday August 20th 2005: The Mets were hanging at the bottom of the NL East, but they were four games over .500 (63-59) & just 5 1/2 games out of first place. A large crowd of 51,785 filled up Shea Stadium to see Pedro Martinez & the Mets host the Washington Nationals (63-59). 

The Mets had a big 2nd inning, David Wright singled, Marlon Anderson walked & catcher Ramon Castro hit a three run HR. The inning continued as Victor Diaz singled & Jose Reyes a HR of his own, the two run shot made it 5-0 Mets. Livan Hernandez remained in the game until the 3rd inning. After singles by Carlos Beltran & Cliff Floyd,  David Wright hit a three run HR making it 8-0.

Pedro left with an 8-0 lead after six innings. He had struck out four & walked no one allowing six scattered hits. But in the 7th, the Mets bullpen was absolutely terrible. Danny Graves, Dae Sung Koo & Aaron Heilman combined to serve up six runs, four hits & three walks. In the 9th Braden Looper blew a save opportunity, giving up singles to Ryan Church & Preston Wilson both with two outs. Brian Schneider then tied it with a double 8-8. It was a horrible display of relief pitching as the bullpen blew an eight run lead.

The game went to the bottom of the 10th, Nats reliever Gary Majewski helped the Mets by walking Gerald Williams & Jose Reyes. Willie Randolph brought in Chris Woodward to pinch hit. Woodard came through with a single to centerfield. The Mets won a crazy game 9-6 with Woodward once again the hero.

Woodward spent two seasons with the Mets as a reserve player getting lots of pinch hit opportunities & came through having three walk off hits.