Straw Stirs Up the Mets' Offseason Plans

Scott Halleran / Getty Images

In November 1990, Shea's Strawberry Patch withered up and died.

The Mets have had the first overall pick in the June amateur draft five times. To paraphrase the Templar Knight at the end of Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail, they have chosen...poorly. Only one of their selections have contributed anything of note at the major league level, but, oh, what the one did. In the summer of 1980, the Mets made Darryl Strawberry, a standout from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, a rich teenager. A decade and a franchise-record 252 home runs later, Straw took his services to the open market on this date in 1990. This time, New York wouldn't match Darryl's price and the lank power hitter returned to the West Coast a very rich young man, signing a five year/$20.25 million contract with the Dodgers three days after declaring free agency. The deal made Darryl the second-highest paid player in baseball, trailing only Jose Canseco in dollars per year. It also tore a hole in the hearts of Mets fans and players alike. Said Dwight Gooden to the New York Times:

"I always thought he'd come back. It's going to be strange walking into the clubhouse and he's not there. It's going to be even stranger to be pitching and he's not in the lineup. Who bats fourth now? It's like the Pittsburgh Pirates without Barry Bonds."

Birthdays

  • Former phenom Jim Bethke is 66. The erratic righty made his MLB debut with the Mets in 1965 as an 18-year old, making him the youngest player in the majors. Bethke's control never matured, though, and by the end of the year, he found himself permanently exiled to the minors. He does have the distinction of being the last Met to don #36 before Jerry Koosman claimed it and was the second to last to sport #41 before it became the property of Tom Seaver.
  • Mike Bishop would have been 54 today. The catcher broke camp with the Mets in 1983 and made it into three games before the team designated him for assignment so they could call up Darryl Strawberry. Like Bethke, Bishop also found himself waiting for a second cup of coffee that never came.
  • Brock Pemberton, the Met with the strongest, most distinctive first name in team history, turns 59. The switch-hitting first baseman posted good walk rates and the ability to make contact in the minors, but never got much of a shot with the parent club. Given just 24 at-bats cumulatively in the Septembers of 1974 and '75, Pemberton stroked four singles and managed a caught stealing. Still, great name.
  • Jose Santiago, 38, chucked five-plus innings for the 2005 Mets in the denouement of his big league career. Never a big strikeout pitcher, the reliever went out on a high note, fanning the final two batters he faced.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
"Remember, remember the fifth of November." That's what Brits sing to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day, which happens to fall on the date mention in the lyrics. The annual event, which commemorates the uncovering of Guy Fawkes's 1605 plot to blow up Parliament by stockpiling barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords, is a pretty big deal in English history. As for Mets fans, feel free to forget November 5. If you've made it this far in the post, you know nothing that notable happened on this date.

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