Archive: September 11th, 2007

Mets Game 144: Loss to Braves

Braves 13 Mets 5

The final score separated the winners from the losers by eight runs — but in reality, it wasn’t even that close.

In his first game back from a mysterious foot injury, Orlando Hernandez gave up 8 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks in just 3 innings. He appeared healthy, and reached 89 MPH with his fastball effortlessly, but had no command whatsoever. Let’s hope he’s simply rusty, and chalk it up to that.

Aaron Sele was useless in the mopup role, serving up a gopher ball to Mark Teixeira and adding two runs to El Duque’s already ugly outing. Why, again, is he on the roster?

The Mets managed five runs off Braves pitching, as Bobby Cox changed relievers like he had a one-run, rather than eight-run, lead. They scored three runs in the fourth on a sac fly by Jeff Conine and a two-run homer by the suddenly slugging Paul LoDuca. David Wright doubled in Jose Reyes in the seventh to pull the Mets within six, and Moises Alou hit a meaningless solo homer in the eighth.

Notes

There were some silver linings in this black cloud of a game. Most notably, Jose Reyes was 3-for-5 with three doubles. Alou was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. And Philip Humber pitched a perfect ninth, retiring the side on ten pitches.

Carlos Beltran made a fantastic throw from centerfield to nail Brian McCann at home in the second. Too bad it didn’t matter, as it was a great play.

Next Game

The finale of the season series against the Braves begins at 7:10 PM, with John Maine taking the mound against John Smoltz. As I mentioned in the series preview, another win is not nearly as important, to me, as seeing Maine make a move in a positive direction. His last start against the Braves was stellar — a seven-inning masterpiece — and we’d like to see more of that.

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Remembering Gil Hodges

Gil Hodges as manager of New York MetsToday we honor #14, the great Gil Hodges.

Number fourteen. Huh, it just so happens that 14 is the Mets’ magic number.

Anyway …

Some argue that Gil Hodges deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, based on the fact that he led the National League in RBI for the decade of the 1950s. However, his career numbers aren’t quite gaudy enough when compared to the greats of the game — 370 HRs, 1274 RBI, and a .273 average. And though he had some outstanding years with the Dodgers, he never won a homerun title, batting title, nor MVP — partially because of his teammate Duke Snider and partially because his contemporaries included Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Ernie Banks, and Eddie Mathews, among others. Hard to be a star outshining those guys.

Still, Hodges was a solid, steady, and intelligent ballplayer, beginning his career as a catcher before moving to first base — because Brooklyn’s catcher was Roy Campanella). He was a natural at the position, and his defense was revered — evidenced by his 3 Gold Gloves. One of his standard techniques is the first baseman’s “trick” of pulling the foot off the bag a millisecond before the infielder’s throw is caught. Oldtimers will tell you he fooled umpires all the time on close plays with that sleight of foot.

Perhaps more significant was the remarkable popularity of the gentle giant. The rabid baseball fans in Brooklyn revered him above all save perhaps their beloved Duke Snider. Talk to a Brooklynite who grew up in the 1950s and he may tell you that the priests and nuns of the city instructed children to pray for Gil Hodges.

By the time he returned to New York as an original Met, his skills were greatly diminished. He was a shell of his former self, but still heady and a team-first player (think: Shawn Green). He hit the first homerun by a New York Mets player on April 11, 1962, but only hit 7 more before being dealt to the Washington Senators for Jimmy Piersall (who hit his 100th career homer as a Met, and to celebrate, ran the bases backward). With the Senators, he immediately became their manager, and held the helm until 1967. Ironically, though no longer a player, Hodges was traded back to the Mets for Bill Denehy to take over as skipper in 1968. The rest is history — after a typical 9th-place finish in 1968, Hodges guided the Mets to a World Series Championship in 1969 (as well as third-place finishes in 1970 and 1971).

His number 14 was retired by the Mets in 1972, soon after he died at the age of 48 of a heart attack (he was playing golf during off hours of spring training).

Above and beyond his contributions as a baseball player, Gil Hodges served our country during World War II in the United States Marine Corps. He battled in Tinian and Okinawa, earning a Bronze Star and attaining the rank of sergeant. Though he hasn’t yet made it into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, he was enshrined into the USMC’s Sports Hall of Fame — the induction was celebrated last Friday at Shea (September 7th).

Often, a man’s life on this planet is measured by how he is remembered. If dedications to Gil Hodges are any indication of his greatness, consider this:

… and that’s just a few of the dedications to Hodges in Brooklyn, much less the rest of the US. Not bad for the son of a coal miner from Princeton, Indiana, eh?

Once again … number 14 … hopefully tomorrow we can honor Edgardo Alfonzo or Ron Darling !

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Collazo or Colazzo?

Willie Collazo's name misspelled on Mets uniform

Oops!

Did anyone else catch this?

If you know that Willie Collazo’s name was misspelled on his uniform, then you qualify as a legitimate rabid Mets fan. This photo was taken during his MLB debut … I believe it’s since been fixed.

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