"Hi, I'd like to place a delivery order for 100 pizzas. My name? Steve Phillips." (Jeff Gross / Getty Images)
The Bobby Valentine Era began on this date in 1996, as the Mets promoted the 46-year old skipper from Triple-A Norfolk to replace the fired Dallas Green. Green's tenure coincided with one of the more ignominious stretches in modern Mets history. In 1993, his inaugural season at the helm, Green presided over the team's first 100-loss season in nearly thirty years. The Mets rebounded slightly in 1994 and began to show promise in 1995, due mainly to the emergence of young pitchers like Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen.
It all cratered in 1996. Pulsipher tore elbow ligaments in spring training and underwent Tommy John surgery before Opening Day. Isringhausen and fellow phenom Paul Wilson both made it through the season, but succumbed to arm injuries the following year. None of the trio would pitch effectively as starters at the major league level again.
As for Valentine, the man seems to attract boosters and detractors in equal measure wherever he goes, New York being no exception. Putting personal feelings aside, it's hard to argue that his time with the Mets was anything but a success. His teams posted winning records in four of his five full seasons, and, while there's little hard evidence that managers have influence over this, his teams performed to or exceeded their Pythagorian win-loss record in four of five seasons as well. He remains the only skipper to lead the Mets to the playoffs in consecutive years and his 536 wins are second only to Davey Johnson in team history.Birthdays
- Ricky Bottalico is 43. An All-Star for the Phillies in 1996–just his second full season in the league–Bottalico never quite fulfilled his early promise, though he did have a brief late career renaissance for Mets. In 2004, he posted an ERA+ of 127 over 60 relief appearances, easily his best mark since his All-Star campaign. He retired the following season.
- Alex Trevino (1978-81, 1990) is 55. The Mets signed Trevino as a 17-year old out of Ciudad Victoria, Mexico. By age 20, the young catcher was in the big leagues, spending four seasons in Flushing before being shipped to the Reds for George Foster. The Mets brought Trevino back in August 1990 season to back up Mackey Sasser, but one month later they again lost him to the Reds, this time via waivers.
Game of Note
Justin Verlander had a great season last year. He threw a no-hitter, struck out more than ten batters on four separate occasions, and tallied a league leading 24 victories. Yet according to Bill James's game score, none of those performances compared to what Chris Capuano did to the Braves 366 days ago. The lefty started the game by striking out leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. Nine innings later, he got Bourn swinging again to end it. In between, Capuano gave up just two hits, didn't walk anyone, and fanned eleven Braves (including Bourn twice more for the golden sombrero). All told, Capuano needed just 122 pitches to rack up 13 Ks, a shutout, and a game score of 96, the highest mark achieved all last season. Final score: Mets 6, Braves 0.
in an added bit of schadenfreude, at the time of Capuano's blanking, the Braves were 79-54 (.594) with an eight game lead in the NL Wild Card standings and a 98.99% chance of making it to the postseason. From that point on, they went 10-19 (.345) and were bumped from playoff contention after losing to the Phillies in Game 162.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On August 26, 1939, W2XBS, an experimental television station in New York, made the first ever live broadcast of a baseball game, airing an Ebbets Field doubleheader between the Dodgers and Reds. Future Mets coach Cookie Lavagetto batted second and played third base in both games, going one-for-seven with two walks and a run scored.