Sunday, July 15, 2007

History In The Making

As much as there is a tendency to focus on the "now" (and not necessarily in the ESPN sense of the term), I feel that as a Mets fan, and as a baseball fan in general, it is both rewarding and important to study the history of the game. After all, how can we put into perspective the feats we see today without knowing what came before them? How can we debate the Hall of Fame candidacies of current stars without an awareness of the careers of those already enshrined? How can we understand the wacky plays, unexpected games, and improbable seasons from the years before we were born without the helpful recollections of those who were there for it all?

As Mets fans, we are fortunate to have Ralph Kiner, to be able to look forward to his visits to the booth, occasions on which he shares stories about the Mets teams he has covered since the beginning of the franchise's existence and about the guys he played with and against during his own storied playing career. Not only does he have a remarkably sharp mind for a man in his 80s, he is usually able to find in his memory bank of anecdotes a few that fit well with the game unfolding on the field. When Ralph talks about his contemporaries, he does so in a way that makes you understand what they were like in a way that you wouldn't be able to do just from their career numbers.

When I saw that the Mets were having a Ralph Kiner Night, I knew that I had to go. While I may not have grown up listening to Kiner in the same way that older fans did, I've learned a lot and laughed a lot from his stories even if he only gets to tell them once a homestand or so these days. The Mets did a wonderful job in honoring Ralph, bringing together some beloved Mets figures and all-time greats for the ceremonies, showing footage from some classic Kiner's Korner interviews before the game, and showing some taped messages of congratulations from the likes of Vin Scully and Hary Kalas between innings. Just about the only thing that could have been improved upon was the car in which Ralph and his wife drove around the field. After all, home run hitters drive Cadillacs ;-)

The game itself on Saturday was fantastic in its own right. Glavine more than bounced back from a subpar first half, pitching what was easily his best game of the year and a candidate for one of the best outings by a Mets starter this season. There is dominant, and then there is facing one batter over the minimum in 8 innings of work. Despite some frustrating moments by the offense (when you get 11 hits and go down 1-2-3 in only one inning all game, you should be scoring a lot more than 2 runs), Lastings Milledge eventually provided the spark the Mets needed.

The Mets also won today, the offense taking more advantage of its opportunities than it did last night and Oliver Perez pitching well in his return from the DL. The Mets had to take this series against a bad team, and they did so with the bats apparently waking up just in time for a very tough road trip against the Padres and Dodgers in which they desperately need to win at least 4 of the 7 games.

Observations/Odds & Ends:
  • The Reds seem to remove Adam Dunn for defensive purposes in the late innings fairly often, so I was surprised they didn't do so on Saturday (especially after he batted in the 8th and would have been due up 7th in the 9th), and not all that surprised that the decision came back to bite them in the ass. Dunn is a damn good hitter (and while his home-run totals are boosted by playing in Cincinnatti's bandbox, he has the power to break the scoreboard even at Shea), but he seems like he'd be better off as a 1st baseman than as an outfielder.
  • I'm still trying to figure out why Fox showed the Astros-Cubs game here in New York yesterday afternoon. While the Cubs do have a national following, wouldn't it have made more sense to show the Cardinals-Phillies game, since that one featured a division rival of the hometown team?
  • That play Reyes made in yesterday's game - the one right after Gotay made that nice catch - is something I'm still in awe of. The ball was past David Wright, and Jose had both the presence of mind to be there backing up the play and the arm strength to make the throw practically from 3rd base.

3 comments:

Rutgers Theatre Alumni Network West Coast said...

Well done with the post on Kiner. I was at Bob Murphy Night a few years back, and it remains a highlight of my Mets-going experiences. -- Wally

Cory said...

Jessica,

If you have a minute, could you drop me a line at chumes@mvn.com? I'd like to talk with you about your Mets blogging.

Thanks,
Cory Humes
Director of Baseball, MVN.com

mel said...

I hoped you taped the game because Ralph was at his best in the booth last night, and to have Yogi at the same time was great, especially when they were talking about a golf course neither could remember its name.