Tag Archives: mets

Dec. 2, 1991 – Mets signed Bonilla to the highest paid contract in team sports

The New York Mets, with a flair for the dramatic and an unprecedented expenditure of cash, signed free agent Bobby Bonilla to a lucrative contract that made him (then) the highest-paid player in team sports. The deal had a guaranteed package for five years and worth $29 million ($48.2 million today). The contract had $27.5 million in base salary, as well as $1.5 million in a promotional arrangement.

Bonilla helped lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to consecutive National League East titles in 1990 and 1991. But without his fellow Pirate stars around him, his offensive production dropped. His stay in New York was also marred by a number of incidents, such as threatening sportswriter Bob Klapisch that he would “show him the Bronx” in response to his book on the 1992 Mets, “The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse Of The New York Mets.” On another occasion, he called the press box during a game to complain about an error that he was charged with. In 1992 Bonilla hit .249 as the Mets went 72 and 90. Bonilla hit 34 home runs in 1993 and the Mets went 59 and 103.

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Nov. 2, 1995 – Joe Torre was named manager of the New York Yankees

Joe Torre served as the New York Yankees manager under owner George Steinbrenner, who was famous for frequently firing his team’s managers. Torre lasted 12 full seasons, managing 1,942 regular season games (with a won-loss record of 1173–767). and took the team to the post-season playoffs every one of his twelve seasons with the club, winning six American League pennants and four World Series. This was by far the longest tenure for a Yankees manager in the Steinbrenner era. Torre’s was the second-longest managerial tenure in the club’s history: only Joe McCarthy lasted longer.

Oct. 26, 2000 – The Yankees beat the Mets to win third straight World Series

This was the first postseason Subway Series since 1956. The New York Yankees were in the World Series for the third straight year, fourth in the previous five, and 37th time overall—the most of any team in the MLB, while the New York Mets made their fourth World Series appearance—the most of any expansion franchise in the MLB and its first since winning the title in the 1986 World Series.

The Yankees were the first team to three-peat as champions since the 1972–1974 Oakland Athletics. Derek Jeter earned MVP honors, along with his fourth ring at the age of 26. Jeter became the first player to claim World Series and All-Star Game MVPs in the same season.

One of the more memorable moment of the 2000 World Series occurred during the first inning of Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. Mike Piazza fouled off a pitch which shattered his bat, sending a piece of the barrel toward the pitcher’s mound. Pitcher Roger Clemens seized the piece and hurled it in the direction of Piazza as the catcher trotted to first base, benches briefly cleared before the game was resumed with no ejections. In July 2000, Clemens had knocked Piazza unconscious with a fastball to the helmet, Piazza had previously enjoyed great success against Clemens, with 3 crucial home runs in previous encounters.

Sept. 29, 1954 – Willie Mays makes his famous over the shoulder catch

The Catch refers to a memorable defensive baseball play by Willie Mays on September 29, 1954, during Game 1 of the 1954 World Series between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Indians at the Polo Grounds in New York on a ball hit by Vic Wertz. The score was tied 2-2 in the top of the 8th inning. Starting pitcher Sal Maglie walked Larry Doby and gave up a single to Al Rosen, putting runners on first and second. Giants manager Leo Durocher summoned left-handed relief pitcher Don Liddle to replace Maglie and pitch to Cleveland’s Wertz, also a left-hander.

Wertz worked the count to two balls and one strike before crushing Liddle’s fourth pitch approximately 420 feet to deep center field. In many stadiums the hit would have been a home run and given the Indians a 5-2 lead. However, this was the spacious Polo Grounds, and Giants center fielder Willie Mays, who was playing in shallow center field, made an on-the-run, over-the-shoulder catch on the warning track to make the out. Having caught the ball, he immediately spun and threw the ball, losing his hat in characteristic style. Doby, the runner on second, might have been able to score the go-ahead run had he tagged at the moment the ball was caught; as it was, he ran when the ball was hit, then had to scramble back to retag and only got as far as third base. (Rosen stayed at first on this play.) Liddle was then relieved by Marv Grissom, to which he supposedly remarked “Well, I got my man!” (The next batter walked to load the bases, but the next two batters were retired to end the inning with no runs scored.)

Willie Mays’ incredible catch:

Aug. 25, 1985 – Dwight Gooden is the youngest pitcher to win 20 games in a major league season

In 1985 Dwight Gooden pitched one of the most statistically dominating single seasons in baseball history. Leading MLB with 24 wins, 268 strikeouts, and a 1.53 ERA (the second lowest in the Live Ball Era, trailing only Bob Gibson‘s 1.12 in 1968) Gooden earned the major leagues’ pitching Triple Crown. He led the National League in complete games (16) and innings pitched (276⅔). From his second start onward, Gooden’s ERA never rose above 2.00. At age 20, he was the youngest pitcher of the last half-century to have an ERA+ above 200. Gooden’s ERA+ was 229; 23-year-old Dean Chance (200 ERA+ in 1964) was the only such pitcher under the age of 25 to do so.

From August 31 through September 16, Gooden threw 31 consecutive scoreless innings over 4 games, and through October 2, threw 49 consecutive innings over 7 games without allowing an earned run.

Even in the eleven games when Gooden didn’t earn a win, he was still dominant. In September, he pitched back-to-back 9-inning games allowing no runs, but received no-decisions in both games. In his four losses, Gooden allowed 26 hits and 5 walks in 28 innings, with 28 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA. The Mets finished second in the 1985 NL East, and teammates jokingly blamed Gooden for having lost 4 games, thereby mathematically costing them the division title. That year, Gooden became one of only 14 African-American pitchers ever to win 20 games, the most recent of whom was CC Sabathia. Gooden became the youngest-ever recipient of the Cy Young Award. There was even media speculation about Gooden’s Hall of Fame prospects. That November, Gooden turned 21.

While Gooden would be an effective pitcher for several more seasons, he never again approached such heights. 1985 would prove to be the only 20-win season of Gooden’s 16-year career. Many reasons have been offered for his decline: early overuse, cocaine addiction, the league catching on to some of his pitches (notably a fastball that rose out of the strike zone, which hitters increasingly avoided), or the influence of Mets pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, who convinced Gooden to change his pitching motion in the hopes of prolonging his career.

However brief, Gooden’s period of dominance was memorable. In a span of 50 starts from August 11, 1984, to May 6, 1986, Gooden posted a record of 37-5 with a 1.40 ERA; he had 412 strikeouts and 90 walks in 404.6 innings.