On this date, Frank Viola had no reason to pout. (Rick Stewart, Getty Images)
On this date in 1989, a bit of major league history was made as, for the first time, the reigning Cy Young Award winners from each league faced off. Frank Viola left Minnesota for the Mets at the trade deadline in the hastiest ever departure of a Cy Young pitcher. Orel Hershiser (a Buffalo native) was coming off a year of 15 complete games finished with 59 consecutive scoreless innings. Toe to toe with "Bulldog" in Los Angeles, Viola pitched a three-hit complete game shut out, retiring the last fifteen Dodgers without walking a batter all game. The only score for either team came in the third inning when the Mets moved Gregg Jefferies to second on a ground ball, and HoJo singled him home. Viola, who is the pitching coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats, was not the only future coach on the diamond. In addition to his teammates Hojo and the future manager of the B-Mets, Juan Samuel, Mike Soscia and Willie Randolph were wearing Dodger blue.
- The Mets traded for Joel Youngblood (turns 61) on the day of the midnight massacre, though not in a return for Seaver. To make room on the roster, player-manager Joe Torre quit playing. On August 4, 1982, Youngblood struck a single for the Mets in a day game at Wrigley Field, was traded away, and hours later notched a hit for the Expos in a night game. Ferguson Jenkins and Steve Carlton, the pitchers he victimized that day, are both in the Hall of Fame.
- Billy Cowan (turns 75) was a part-time outfielder with a questionable bat. But he spent eight years in the Major Leagues, and deserves better than a one-sentence wikipedia entry. In 1965, Cowan spent a year with the Mets, appeared in about half their games, and batted .179.
- Mike Torrez (turns 66) was a 16 year veteran when he joined the Mets in 1983, pitched 222.1 innings, and led the league with 113 walks; he was released in June of '84. In 1975 Torrez had a 20-win season and received a few MVP votes while walking 133.
On this date in 1984, the Mets received Ray Knight from the Astros for later-named-players Gerald Young, Manuel Lee, and Rick Cook. Two years later he won NL Comeback Player of the Year at the hot corner for a World Championship club. In Game Seven, the go-ahead home run was Knight's, and also the World Series MVP.
Game of Note
On August 28, 1964, Mets pitching was terrible; Cubs pitching went a little beyond. A 5-0 Met lead vanished in the third before a batter was retired, by starting pitcher Jack Fisher. By the fifth inning it was 10-8 Cubs. In the eighth, the Mets sent 10 hitters to bat and vaulted two runs ahead. Practically the only man not to reach safely in the inning was Ed Kranepool, who otherwise went 3-5 with a double and a home run. Six Mets had two or more hits; RF Joe Christopher reached four times and homered. The game's final pitcher, Willard Hunter, was the only somebody unhit in the crazy game, and the 12-10 lead held up.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Happy 184th bitrthday, Leo Tolstoy! The greatest novelist who ever lived inspired the weirdest sports analogy I have ever read, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal: "I wouldn't say watching [Matt Harvey] hold that slider so he can work on his changeup beats reading Tolstoy's theories of military discipline, but I wouldn't say it doesn't either." Three cheers for tenuousness! NB, Met fans: Winning teams are all alike; every losing team loses in its own way.