Nationals 5 Mets 3
It took one day to go from first to fourth.
It took one day to go from first to fourth.
In honor of his bobblehead day on May 26th, the Mets Media Relations department was kind enough to hold a conference call between the great Rusty Staub and several Mets bloggers. Rusty was very nice and accomodating. A range of subjects was covered, from his career, to today’s players, to grilling tips.
Here’s a sampling:
On Pinch Hitting
Rusty kept an eye on the game, and prepared for his late-inning turn at bat. He liked to keep his body temperature up. He’d run up and down the runway – anything to keep from coming in cold.
He described his approach at the plate in pinch-hit situations as “controlled agression.” “When I went up, the game was on the line,” he said.
On Being Gary Carter’s Teammate with the Expos and Mets
“Gary never lost that enthusiasm and drive,” Rusty said of Carter. From his early days with the Expos to his latter days with the Mets, Rusty said Carter kept that enthusiasm throughout his career. Rusty recalled what a huge piece of the puzzle Carter was when he came to the Mets in a trade prior to the 1985 season.
On His Popularity in Montreal and New York
Rusty was asked why he thought he was so popular in Montreal and New York. “First of all, you have to play well,” Rusty said. If you don’t play well, you’re not going to be popular. He said he never thought of himself as being above the fans. And in Montreal, his attempts to learn French didn’t hurt! While he said he was never fluent, the fans appreciated his effort.
On Similarities Between Today’s Mets and His Early ’80s Team
Rusty said comparisons between eras are very difficult.
He did say that the “belittlement” of the Mets before the season was “beyond belief,” and that Mets fans should be proud of the start their team has had so far.
On Playing for Davey Johnson
He recalled that those teams had a total lack of discipline, and could have won more championships than they did, but “he [Johnson] was very very good” on the field. He was his own guy, and had his own style. Rusty said he is happy that Johnson has another shot in the big leagues, and sounded impressed with how the Nationals were playing under Davey’s guidance.
On Making His MLB Debut at Age 19
Rusty said he wasn’t overmatched at the plate, but he was overmatched by day-to-day life in the majors. He said he made some mistakes, but those made him stronger.
He added some advice for today’s players: Don’t listen to the media, and “work your ass off.” Rusty said some guys get complacent when they start making major league money.
On the Toughest LHP and RHP He Ever Faced
“I always said, if I started a team,” Rusty said, “it would be with Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson.”
On Ike Davis
“Ike is messed up in his head,” Rusty said, “it’s beyond comprehension.” Rusty suggested that Ike slow it down, be quieter at the plate – cut down on his hand movements.
“He’s gonna get out of this thing,” he said, even if it means taking a couple of weeks in the minors, something Rusty said he did himself, and it wasn’t easy. He also suggested studying himself when he is going well, so he can see what he is doing well and why.
On the 1973 Season
“It was a tough season,” he said. A bunch of guys got hurt, and he himself said his hands were in terrible pain every day. So much so, that the team gave him 3 days off in August. “A well placed cortisone shot can be effective,” he said. And during his time off, he got 4 shots in his left hand, and 3 in his right. When he came back, he was “astounded by the pop in his hands.”
Rusty went on to say that with pitchers like Seaver, Koosman, “and George Stone was pitching terrific,” he felt they were still in it in late August.
“Concentrate,” Rusty said. You don’t have to stand over the grill all the time, but don’t burn anything. As far as cooking burgers is concerned, Rusty advocates high heat.
When two offensively challenged teams face each other, the level of drama of a game and its outcome are often dependent on the number and type of mistakes made. This game fit that condition.
Although Ike Davis stroked a double in Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto, he has struggled mightily all season, and can’t seem to break out of his slump. As a result, there is buzz that Ike could be sent down to the minors to work out his issues. Is that the best plan?
For a moment there, it looked like it was going to be another come-from-behind, one-run victory. And it was … except, for the Marlins instead of the Mets.
If someone told you two months ago that the Mets would sweep the Phillies in Philadelphia to push them even deeper in the NL East cellar, would you have believed it?
Ike Davis gives me headaches. I throw on the Mets game after a friend told me what Kung Fo Panda just did. After watching Dillon Gee struggle, I get to watch Ike Davis strike out looking with the bases load in the 8th inning against the San Francisco Giants. The Mets would lose 7-2.
After striking out, Davis properly mutters something he shouldn’t have, and throws his bat like an underhand toss. He un-straps his batting gloves and proceeds to look up to the sky as if the answers lie there. But the answers lie in his attitude at the plate.
For all the strikes the Mets have against them this year, their biggest single issue continues to be team health.
Yes, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Francisco Rodriguez all wear different uniforms now. Yes, they are buried in a mountain of debt following the Bernie Madoff debacle, and overall mismanagement by Saul Katz and the Wilpons. But if you look at this team, position-by-position, they can be competitive…
…they can stay healthy. They have some good players (David Wright, Ike Davis, Lucas Duda) and pitchers (Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Ramon Ramirez), but they have to be on the field to be effective. As much as the Mets will miss Reyes and Beltran, even they couldn’t stay on the field for the last 3 years.
Compare the following players to the ones that occupied each position for most of last season. Most positions will get an upgrade or stay the same:
C: Josh Thole (same)
1B: Ike Davis (upgrade – he only played in a handful of games before getting hurt)
2B: Daniel Murphy (offensive upgrade)
SS: Ruben Tejada (downgrade)
3B: David Wright (same)
LF: Jason Bay (same)
CF: Andres Torres (same/slight defensive upgrade)
RF: Lucas Duda (defensive downgrade/same offense, potentially)
Starting rotation: replacing Capuano with Santana (upgrade)
Bullpen: 3 veteran additions (upgrade)
On paper, this looks like a pretty nice roster…
…they can stay healthy.
Just like 2009, 2010, and 2011. And since they are so lacking in depth, health is paramount in 2012. So far in Spring Training, however, it’s been more of the same. More injuries, more initial misdiagnoses, more frustration. Even manager Terry Collins couldn’t hide his aggravation when he found out yet another Met, Tejada, couldn’t play.
Does anyone know what the cause is for these injury woes? Is it the medical staff, the ownership, the managment? Does anyone know what the solution is? Find a new medical staff? Practice over-caution with every nagging injury? Or is it just bad luck or law of averages? Maybe they just happen to have a roster full of injury-prone players. Does anyone know for sure?
One thing is for sure – it’s hard to win ballgames when half your starting lineup is in the trainer’s room.