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The lefty helped deliver the best gift of all to Mets fans: a World Series title.
Happy 55th birthday to Bob Ojeda, the ace of the 1986 pitching staff. Believing additional rotation depth was essential to building a championship ball club, Mets GM Frank Cashen picked up Bobby O in November 1985 via a trade with the Boston Red Sox. Cashen was correct and the fact that the '86 title came at the expense of Ojeda's former employers was surely a bit of sweet revenge for Bob. A key contributor that fateful season, Ojeda led the Mets staff in wins (18), ERA (2.57, good for second-best in the NL), and WAR with 4.5, which trailed only Keith Hernandez for the team lead. In the playoffs, Bobby made four starts, going the distance in the Mets' first win of the postseason, a 5-1 triumph over the Astros in Game Two of the NLCS. He also got the ball in Game Six of the World Series, matching Roger Clemens for six frames before turning things over to the bullpen.
Injuries to the pitching staff ruined any chance the Mets had of repeating in 1987, and Ojeda was one of the most severely hurt, making just seven starts before succumbing to arm woes and surgery. Both the team and Bobby rebounded in 1988. Though he posted a losing record, Ojeda led the National League in K/BB rate and tossed a team-best five shutouts for the NL East champions. A severed fingertip, however, sidelined him just before the playoffs and the Mets fell in the NLCS to the Dodgers.
Ojeda wasn't quite the same pitcher after having his top digit re-attached. His Mets career ended after the 1990 season and he bounced around for three years before retiring. He's remained active in the New York sports scene since then, serving as a minor league pitching coach for the Brooklyn Cyclones and Binghampton Mets and he's been seen just about every day on SNY since joining the pre/post game studio crew in 2009. Earlier this year, Bobby even took a page out of rotation mate Ron Darling's book and wrote about his pitching days in an excellent essay that ran in the New York Times.
- Edwin Almonte is 36. Acquired in the trade that rid the Mets of Roberto Alomar, Almonte tossed eleven and third innings relief innings after joining the team in July 2003, posting an 11.12 ERA That production was good for -0.6 WAR, which made the righty only slightly less valuable to the Mets than Alomar, who'd accumulated -0.3 WAR at the time of the transaction.
- Josh Edgin turns 26 today.The hefty lefty had a very good rookie season for the Mets this year, albeit one that would look even better if had he been disallowed from facing Ryan Howard on back-to-back days this September. As of right now, the only other lefty reliever on the Mets roster is Robert Carson, so the LOOGY job seems to be Edgin's to lose in 2013. For more on Josh, check out this Wall Street Journal profile on him from this summer. It's packed with fun information, including the fact that he was signed by a scout named Marlin McPhail, which is at least a 70 on the 20-80 scale of baseball monikers.
- The extravagantly mustachioed Dale Thayer is 32. After posting an 0-3 record in 11 games for the Mets in 2011, the team cut ties with Thayer the way a Schick Quattro slices through even the most densest thicket of upper lip hair. The righty reemerged with San Diego this season, saving seven games for the Padres while proven closer Huston Street was on the DL. Thayer seemingly has a spot in the Padres pen secured for 2013, though should that fall through, he can always get work as a young Wilford Brimley impersonator.
On December 17, 1999, the Mets found their replacement for John Olerud. That is, they signed Todd Zeile to stand at first base for 150 or so games, since no one could really replace John Olerud. While Zeile couldn't replicate the Helmeted One's production (few could), he did have the second-best season as a pro according to WAR in 2000, accumulating 2.1 wins above replacement while helping the Mets reach the World Series.
Twenty-three years and 515 episodes ago, The Simpsons made its TV debut on this date. While the baseball affections of most Springfield residents lie with the Isotopes, Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu Nahasapeemapetion knows best, as the Nye Mets are his favorite squadron.