Archive: September 13th, 2007

Number Eleven

Tim Teufel with the New York MetsIt would have been easier if the magic number were 12, because we could talk about Ron Darling, John Stearns, Ken Boswell, Tommy Davis, and oh yeah — Willie Randolph (he wore it in ’92, right before Jeff Kent).

But you know, I’ll take eleven — even if the best we can come up with is Tim Teufel.

Honoring Teufel was a “teuf” choice, as the other considerations included old-time greats such as Duke Snider, Gene Woodling, Roy McMillan, and Wayne Garrett. But Snider was at the end of his rope by the time he returned to New York — was was Woodling — and McMillan was neither around long enough nor as special as Teufel. And then there was Lenny Randle, who I mention only because if I don’t, he may hunt me down and punch me in the nose. Garrett had a strong case, mostly because he was the starting third baseman for both the 1969 World Series Champs and the ’73 NL Champs. But let’s face it: he never appeared in a rap song.

Teufel did, as well as a music video (“Lets Go Mets Go“), and he even found time to be a part-time player for the Mets over six seasons (longer than I remember). For a guy who was basically a nondescript platoon player, Teufel managed to be remembered for many reasons. Interestingly, he came to the Mets in a deal that sent Billy Beane to Minnesota — though back then no one cared about Beane. And though many fans resented his presence because it meant less playing time for the beloved, scrappy smurf Wally Backman, Teufel did eventually drive the ladies crazy with the “Teufel Shuffle”. And despite a sickly batting average through most of 1986, he did come up with some big hits throughout the Championship season — most notably, his 11th-inning, pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam against the Phillies (though, back then, no one called them “walk-off” homers).

Despite his love for Jesus and a personality that was clearly opposite of the rest of the rowdy 1986 Mets, he managed to find himself in the middle of a bar fight at Cooter’s nightclub in Houston after a July game, and was arrested along with teammates Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda. Somehow, he was also recruited by George Foster to appear on the Get Metsmerized rap single, alongside LA street tough Kevin Mitchell (“the season’s rook …”). Timmy Two Step’s lines (song lines, not coke lines … those were for the other singers) were:

“I’m Tim Teufel, let me begin by saying I was once a Twin
I made the move and it feels just right
I’ve been Metsmerized and I see the light.”

Ironically, “Teufel” is German for “devil”, which announcers Bob Murphy and Tim McCarver would remind us every other time Timmy came to bat. I also remember Murphy mentioning his hope that he’d face Jim Gott, because “Gott” means “God” in German, and … oh … it was all so cheesy.

Unfortunately for Teufel, he’s probably best remembered for booting a ball in the first game of the ’86 World Series, allowing the only run of the game to score. Actually, he didn’t boot it — it went right through his legs like a croquet ball through the wickets. But luckily Billy Buckner was watching the play astutely and copied it precisely a week later.

In 1987, Teufel had the best year of his career, batting .308 with 14 HRs and 61 RBI — in only 399 at-bats. Those eye-popping numbers earned him the everyday second-base job in 1988, but injuries, slumps, and Backman’s .300 hitting caused a quick return to the platoon system. Before the ’89 season, Backman was dealt to the Twins, but to clear the way for Gregg Jefferies — and not Teufel — at the second sack. He did have one highlight that year — and another all-time Met moment — when he beat the crap out of 6’4″ 230-lb. “Nasty Boy” Rob Dibble after a beanball. At 6′, 175-lb., Teufel was overmatched, but he had fun rearranging the hated Dibble’s face — in turn earning a newfound respect from New York fans.

Personally, I was always a big Tim Teufel fan, and hoped he’d get more chances to play — but the Mets were high on kids like Jefferies and Keith Miller so Teufel was eventually shipped out to San Diego for former all-world shortstop Garry Templeton. Eventually, Teufel returned to the organization as a minor league coach, and was the Savannah Sand Gnats manager in 2007.

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Mets Game 145: Win Over Braves

Mets 4 Braves 3

Jose Reyes congratulates Shawn Green after Green's game-winning single against the BravesJohn Maine took a step forward, and deserved to win the game. And though he wasn’t credited with the victory, at least the Mets won.

Maine pitched six strong innings, allowing only three hits, three walks, and one run, striking out five. It was a fine performance, and necessary, as he needed to outpitch John Smoltz — who pitched a fine game himself.

Maine left the game after 102 pitches with a 2-1 lead, thanks to a fifth-inning solo homer by Marlon Anderson. Carlos Beltran drove in the first run of the game in the third frame with a sac fly to score Jose Reyes (now, that’s more like it). After Maine exited, Lastings Milledge — pinch-hitting for Maine — led off the bottom of the seventh by blasting a triple to rightfield past a diving Jeff Francoeur. He scored soon after when Reyes reached out and poked a single through the middle of a drawn-in Braves infield, giving the Mets an insurance run. Jorge Sosa held the lead through the seventh, and after Aaron Heilman got two quick outs in the eighth, things were looking good. However, Heilman then walked Edgar Renteria on four pitches and allowed a single to Mark Teixeira, putting runners on the corners. At that point, manager Willie Randolph panicked — plain and simple.

Instead of leaving Heilman in to clean up his own mess, Randolph turned into Gene Rayburn and thought he was hosting the Match Game. If only Brett Somers were in the dugout to laugh at his moves … or Charles Nelson Reilly to finish a “Dumb Donald” joke. Instead, Rayburn … er, Randolph … had not Reilly or Somers but Feliciano and Mota to call on. Unfortunately, neither could finish the question, and by the end of the inning, no one was laughing.

Feliciano was rushed in to face Brian McCann, who walked on five pitches to load the bases. That failed execution prompted Willie to exit the dugout again and summon Guillermo Mota, who jogged in to a chorus of boos from the hometown fans. Why Randolph thought this situation — facing Jeff Francoeur with the bases loaded — was ideal for Mota, is anyone’s guess. To Mota’s credit, he got ahead of Francoeur and nearly struck him out, but a potential strike three foul tip barely evaded Paul LoDuca’s mitt. Moments later, Francoeur poked a ball in between David Wright and Jose Reyes to score two runs to tie the game and take the victory away from Maine. Again, in Mota’s defense, it was a good pitch in a good spot, and the only other batter who digs that out is Vladimir Guerrero. Luckily, Mota regrouped to strike out Andruw Jones before any more damage could be done.

But the score did not remain tied for long. Once again the Mets answered the bell — something that’s become a common occurrence the last few weeks. Carlos Beltran led off the inning with a single and stole second base to start the process. Moises Alou then grounded out to third, and an alert Beltran took third as Yunel Escobar threw to first. Shawn Green followed with a base hit into right-center to regain the lead.

Billy Wagner came on to pitch a perfect ninth, expending 14 pitches in earning his 34th save of the season.

Notes

Shawn Green continued his dominance of John Smoltz, with two more hits against the future HOFer in addition to his game-winning single. He went 3-for-4 on the evening.

Oddly, due to MLB scoring rules, the victory was officially “earned” by Guillermo Mota. He’s gaining on Heilman for the 2007 vulture award.

Reyes had two more hits and stole his 76th base. He’s warming up, folks.

If Willie Randolph had left Heilman in the game, and Heilman had blown the lead all by himself, I MIGHT have crucified Willie for leaving Heilman in with Feliciano ready to save the day. But probably not. Regardless, the Mota move remains a head-scratcher.


Next Game

Day off on Thursday, then the Phillies come into Shea for a three-game set — the last regular-season series between the teams. Friday night’s opener begins at 7:10 PM and happens to be Dog Day at Shea, and Tom Glavine is scheduled to start against — you guessed it — Jamie Moyer.

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