Eric Valent, seen here in a dramatically lit batting cage. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
On July 29, 2004, Eric Valent became the eighth Met to hit for the cycle, picking up each of the four possible permutations of base knocks in a 10-1 victory over the Montreal Expos. Filling in for regular left fielder Cliff Floyd, Valent singled in the second, doubled in the third, then blasted a moon shot of a home run off Expos pitcher Sunny Kim in the fifth. Two innings later, Valent sent a deep drive into the right field corner of Olympic Stadium and motored around the bases, sliding into third just ahead of Nick Johnson's relay throw. The triple made Valent the fourth MLB player of 2004 to get a cycle and the first Met since John Olerud also connected for one against the Expos. Fun fact: Valent was the last player prior to Johan Santana to rock a #57 jersey, meaning the Mets have had someone hit for the cycle and throw a no-hitter whilst wearing that number.
Felix Mantilla (1962) is 78. The closest thing the inaugural Mets had to a starting third baseman, Mantilla put up an OPS+ of 94 from the hot corner, leading one Mets blogger (me) to dub the position "the lukewarm corner."
Mets GM Joe McIlvaine tried to buy low on this date in 1996, sending Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino for Alvaro Espinoza and the desiccating remains of Carlos Baerga. Speaking to reporters about the deal, Trader Joe said:
"He's not St. Carlos, but at the same time we are satisfied at what he gives you on the field."
This quote, more than anything, probably explains why McIlvaine doesn't work for the team anymore. If there was a silver lining to this trade, it's that moving Kent and Vizcaino allowed manager Dallas Green to start playing Edgardo Alfonzo every day. Though the fact that Green wasn't playing Fonzie over Jose Vizcaino to begin with probably explains why he doesn't work for the team anymore, either.
Game of Note
Newly acquired shortstop Mike Bordick made Steve Phillips look like a genius on this date in 2000, sending the first pitch he saw in a Mets uniform over the Shea Stadium wall. Lenny Harris had the biggest hit of the game, though, coming off the bench to break a 3-3 tie in the in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single. Armando Benitez retired the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the ninth to give the Mets a win over their eventual NLCS foes.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
The short, troubled life of Vincent van Gogh came to an end on this date in 1890. Speaking of the complimentary colors he used to paint his vibrant canvases, van Gogh uttered, "There is no blue without yellow and without orange." Undoubtedly, Vincent would be pleased that the Mets are phasing the color black out of their uniforms. If that connection isn't tenuous enough, there's this: van Gogh and Shea Stadium were both name-dropped by the Beastie Boys on their Paul's Boutique album.