The totality of the Montreal Expos' existence is bookended by two games against the Mets played 35 years apart. The first, or the left bookend assuming you're following this metaphor somewhere that reads in the western fashion, occurred on this date in 1969. Baseball's premiere international franchise began its inaugural season with an Opening Day tilt at Shea Stadium.
The two teams scored early and often. Expos starter Mudcat Grant lasted just one and a third, giving up three runs on a bases-clearing double from Tommie Agee. Reliever Dan McGinn matched that feat across two-plus frames. Tom Seaver wasn't much better, however, as he let four 'Spos touch home plate in a short (by his standards) five-inning outing. The Mets bullpen fared much worse. Cal Koonce, Al Jackson, and Ron Taylor allowed seven more to score before this one ended. A spirited rally in the ninth, highlighted by a pinch-hit, three-run homer off the bat of backup catcher Duffy Dyer, made it look closer in the box score, but like every Opening Day they'd played prior, the Mets wound up on the short end. Final score: Expos 11, Mets, 10.
- Gary Carter would have been 58 today. The 28th anniversary of the Kid's Mets debut is later this week and it'll surely be covered in this space with the thoroughness it deserves. Until then, let Bob Murphy narrate you through the chain of events that led to a happy recap on April 9, 1985.
- Eddie Kunz is likely having a ruff 27th birthday. The reliever, who the Mets selected with their first pick in the 2007 draft, was released by the San Diego Padres three weeks ago and it doesn't appear that he's hooked on with another team. New York had several ruff drafts under Omar Minaya, but 2007 is shaping up to be the roughest. Kunz's fellow first rounder Nathan Vineyard quit baseball in 2008 while second rounder Brant Rustich stepped away from the game last year. All told, only five picks from the draft have made it to the majors and they've amassed a grand total of 1.4 rWAR for the Mets. To put that mark into perspective, 21st rounder Dillon Gee has been worth 2.5 rWAR alone.
- Timo Perez turns 38. Since leaving the Mets in 2004, Timo has played for five MLB organizations, the New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League, Veracruz in Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, and as of last year, the Atlantic League Long Island Ducks where he was teammates with fellow 2000 Met Armando Benitez.
- Guerrant McCurdy "Mac" Scarce, born in Danville, Virginia 64 years ago today, came to the Mets in the 1974 deal that sent Tug McGraw to the Phillies. He made one appearance for the team, tossing the final pitch of a walk-off loss to the Pirates on April 11, 1975. The Mets traded Scarce to the Reds four days later.
- Pete Walker, 44, had two stints with the Mets. Drafted by the club in 1990, he made his debut five years later. Five walks and five strikeouts in 17 innings didn't impress the brass, however, and the team shipped him to San Diego in the offseason. He'd return as a free agent in 2001 and post slightly better numbers, though still not good enough to keep a roster spot as the Mets put him on waivers after one appearance in 2002.
The Mets picked up pinch-hitter extraordinaire Matt Franco from the Cubs on April 8, 1996, sending a player to be named later Chicago's way two months later. Franco churned out five solid seasons as Met, though the transaction would have been worth it for this moment alone.
Game of Note
Dwight Gooden picked up his first Opening Day victory on this date in 1986, leading the Mets to the first of the 108 wins they'd rack up before season's end. Doc went the distance against the Pirates, striking out six and holding the Bucs to just seven base runners, though two came around to score. Keith Hernandez was the offensive hero, doubling home one in the first and another six innings later with a single. Gary Carter and George Foster chipped in RBI, too. Mets win, 4-2.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Pablo Picasso, described in his New York Times obituary as "the single greatest force in 70 years of art," passed away forty years ago today. Former Mets owner Lorinda de Roulet capitalized on the painter's death a decade and half later, making a substantial fortune by selling one of his self-portraits, "Au Lapin Agile," at auction for $40.7 million. If only she'd demanded such a lavish return in the Tom Seaver trade.