Can't win 'em all. Or any in August 2002. (Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)
Let's flash back to August 2002. At this point in time, the National League has been around for 126 years and the Mets have been a part of it for forty. In the first year of their joint existence, New York's new National League franchise set the modern mark for most defeats in a season with 120. Though the 1962 Mets lost games at a pace unprecedented in the history of baseball in the 20th century, they always emerged victorious from at least one home game a month. In fact, every single NL team prior to them and every NL team after them managed to do the same.
Until 2002. On August 31 of that year, the Mets fell to the Phillies 1-0, wasting a solid start from Steve Trachsel. The loss closed the book on a brutal 6-20 month that included an 0-for-13 streak at Shea Stadium. So much for home field advantage.
- Pat Howell is 44. A product of Vigor High School in Prichard, Alabama, it should come as no surprise that Howell was a high energy player. The speedy outfielder stole 164 bases in the three minor league seasons that preceded his 1992 MLB debut. Howell swiped a bag in each of his first three games for the Mets, but, as the saying goes, you can't steal first. An inability to get on base more than 22% of the time in his Queens cup of coffee doomed Howell to a peripatetic baseball existence. Stops on his journey included Duluth, Mexico City and New Taipei City, where he patrolled center for Brother Elephants of the Chinese Professional Baseball League.
- Also turning 44 is Hideo Nomo. The Mets generated a bit of buzz in June 1998 by trading for the famed practitioner of the tornado delivery. On the mound, however, Nomo produced little other than torque. Despite striking out 9.4 batters per nine, he walked so many that it pushed his K/BB ratio below two, resulting in a 4-5 record and an ERA close to five. Surprisingly, Nomo did have a career year at the plate, hitting .267 (8-for-30) as a Met.
- Attention Miami-based Mets fans: If you're heading to Marlins Park tonight, be sure to wish Ramon Ramirez a happy 31st birthday. With R.A. Dickey taking the hill, there's a decent shot Ramon won't have to work on his special day. May Dickey be praised for being so considerate.
Many more Met birthdays after the jump...
- Songwriter Ruth Roberts would have been 85 years old today. Ms. Roberts and lyricist Bill Katz collaborated to pen "Meet the Mets", an earworm that's been burrowing deep into the auditory cortices of fans who are true to the orange and blue since 1962.
- Tracy Stallard is 75. Best known for allowing Roger Maris's 61st home run of of 1961, Stallard came to New York two seasons later and allowed 43 long balls in 380 innings as a Met. Known about town as something of a playboy, this dashing young Metropolitan dated actress Julie Newmar, meaning there's a good chance he "circled the bases" with Catwoman.
- Claudell Washington is 58. Driven out of Chicago's South Side for his perceived loafing-White Sox fans would display "Washington Slept Here" in the outfield stands-Claudell played half of the 1980 season for the Mets, before being lured to Atlanta by Ted Turner's millions. Though his time in New York was short, he did become one of the eight Mets to hit three home runs in a game during his brief tenure.
On August 25, 2010, Jerry Manuel said this:
"We have to find a way to get Frenchy going. I think he is an important part of the team, and the make up and the fabric of the team."
Six days later, the Mets got Jeff Francoeur going in a southwesterly direction, trading him to the Texas Rangers for Joaquin Arias. In a corresponding move, the Mets recalled Lucas Duda from Triple-A to replace Frenchy on the roster. For all of Duda's faults as a player, at least he's never swung at a pitch in the opposite batter's box.
Game of Note
Dwight Gooden only lost four times in 1985 and the last one came on this date, courtesy of the San Francisco Giants. Doc had a so-so start by his standards, permitting two runs over six innings while fanning a mere seven batters. The Mets rallied late, but Roger McDowell coughed up a crucial insurance run and the offense couldn't get Gooden off the hook for a 3-2 loss. The L stopped Dwight's personal win streak at 14 games, a record for Mets pitchers that still stands.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
On August 31, 1962, the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago gained independence from the United Kingdom. As his countrymen were reveling in newly found sovereignty, calypso singer the Duke of Iron was in New York, performing popular, topical songs, like this one about about a brand new ball club.