In the very early hours of July 31, 2006, Duaner Sanchez met his cousin Dawin Sanchez and a friend, Milagros Rodriguez, at his Hollywood, Florida, hotel. The three decided to find a Dominican Restaurant and do as old buddies do. They hailed a cab, which took them on I-95 in the direction of sanchaco, chivo picante, and pescado con coco. At 1:44 a.m., a Crown Victoria piloted by a drunk driver, Cecil Wiggins, swerved across three lanes and sideswiped the taxi cab, separating the pitcher's right shoulder and ending his season. Ending, in fact, his effectiveness as a major leaguer. Duaner has taken some flack for this but I can't see why. July 31 was an off day. A drunk driver cost him a promising career.
On This Date, 1989, the Mets sent five players -- including pitchers Rick Aguilera and David West and minor leaguer Kevin Tapani -- to the Twin Cities, receiving as payment the 1988 Cy Young Award winner, Frank Viola. No Cy Young winner had even been traded so soon after his glory. Viola would place 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 1990 and reach the All-Star Game in 1991 before a late-season collapse; the Mets would not opt to resign the free agent that winter. Viola is currently acting as pitching coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats. His daughter, Britanny, will dive in the 2012 Olympics, and his son, Frank III, is developing a knuckleball with the help of R.A. Dickey and Phil Niekro.
On This Date, 1943, right-handed pitcher Billy Wynne was born on the Roanoke River. He pitched 8.2 innings for the Mets in 1967, struck out four, earned three runs.
Game of Note
On July 31, 1983, the Mets snuffed the Pirates 1-0 in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Shea. Mets starter Mike Torrez hurled eleven shutout innings before tagging in Jesse Orosco for the last three outs. In the bottom of the twelfth, Mookie Wilson singled with the first at-bat and was bunted to second. Keith Hernandez, next at the plate, was intentionally walked. George Foster put a ball on the ground that the second baseman scooped up and shuffled left the shortstop. Mookie, though, broke right and was charging hard. "I didn't know Mookie was trying to score until the last second," said Pirates shortstop Dale Berra, who in that last second threw home, too late. The AP article hardly notices the 11-inning pitching performance, or finds it remarkable.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On This Date, 1961, at Fenway Park, the clouds began to leak and an All-Star Game was played to a draw, the first such tie in history. In 2002 came "the tie that changed everything," and that is why, children, the Mets will enjoy home field advantage in this year's World Series.