See, I watched the first inning. I saw Shin-Soo Choo hit a lead-off home run and Alex Rios hit Jonathon Niese with a line drive that forced him out of the game. I saw Niese throw a temper tantrum in the Mets’ dugout (and while I admire Niese’s desire to compete, I think Terry Collins, Dan Warthen and Ray Ramirez made the right call. There’s no reason to risk Niese when the team is still 10 games under .500 and 10 games out even after the victory.)
I saw Curtis Granderson hit his first-inning double to ensure Darvish wouldn’t have a chance at a no-hitter, and I saw Bobby Abreu drive him in to erase the Rangers’ early lead. I saw Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer that momentarily confused the umpires… and with the score 3-1 in the Mets’ favor, I left to go watch my town’s 4th of July fireworks. Afterwards, we watched the rebroadcast of the Macy’s fireworks in New York. (At this point, I think I’ve had my fill of fireworks until next July, but I had fun.)
Jon Matlack, who just celebrated his 64th birthday on Sunday, began his major league career with the New York Mets in 1971. A 15-10 record with a 2.32 ERA in 1972 earned Matlack the National League Rookie of the Year award. And in 1973, he was an important part of the starting rotation for the National League champion Mets.
Matlack was a three-time All-Star for the Mets from 1974-76, but after a disappointing season in 1977 where he finished the year with a 7-15 record and a 4.21 ERA, the Mets sent him to the Texas Rangers as part of a four-team blockbuster deal. Matlack rebounded to win 15 games and lower his ERA to 2.27 in one of the best seasons of his career. However, he was never equaled that success again and only one more season where he pitched 200+ innings in the major leagues.
During the final nine days of 2013, I’m going to revisit nine memorable baseball moments from the year. Some stand out for personal reasons, but I’m starting off with a game that is historically significant.
On Easter Sunday, the Houston Astros defeated the Texas Rangers 8-2 to open the 2013 Major League Baseball Season.
I remember a lot of baseball fans wondering why the Astros and Rangers would be picked for the first Sunday Night Baseball game of the year, but it was the first game the Astros played in the American League after spending their first 50 games in the National League.
I was excited to watch a real baseball game with 25-man rosters and no player with a uniform number higher than #64 — even if it was played using the DH rule. But I also wanted to see the New York Mets’ expansion partners make history.
Funny thing: I don’t recall many details of the game. My scorecard notes remind me that Bud Norris threw the first pitch of the season for a strike, that Jose Altuve was the first Astro to get a hit as an American League player, and that Rick Ankiel – who would later become a Met – hit the first Astro American League home run.
Everyone knew the Astros were going to be terrible – and they were, though they were not historically bad — a 51-111 finish did not even put them within striking distance of the 1962 New York Mets’ modern record for futility. But for one night, they had the best record in baseball.
Despite its milestone status, it never really sunk in the the Astros are now part of the “other” league. Blame interleague play and about 25 years of thinking of the Astros as a National League team for that, I guess.
I probably need to see the Astros play the Mets or another National League team and use the designated hitter rule before it really hits me.
If you’ve been paying attention at all, there’s not a lot of new information in the ESPN New York articles… but I suppose they’ll be convenient references if you need to catch up. Newsday and the New York Times have updates on the Irving Picard court case, if you’re looking for something more news-ish.
But raw dollars are only part of the story. Rubin’s article includes data for six teams, and the Mets are actually making the smallest percentage reduction of any of them. The Florida Marlins slashed their payroll by 75 percent from 2005 to 2006. The Kansas City Royals chopped their payroll in half from 2010 to 2011. By comparison, the Mets’ cuts are projected to come in at 36 percent.
The Mets are not spending enough to field a strong team, given how much money is tied up in unproductive players signed to bad contracts. But it seems disingenuous to pretend that what the Mets did this off-season is worse than the Florida Marlins’ firesale after 2005.