Cincinnati beat the Mets 2-1 on this date in 1990 to spoil Bud Harrelson's managerial debut. Tim Teufel welcomed his new skipper aboard with a solo home run in the first inning, but the Reds answered with solo blasts by Chris Sabo and Eric Davis off Bob Ojeda. The Mets, who had gotten off to a 20-22 start under departing manager Davey Johnson, would win their next game under Harrelson, then lose three, before going on a tear during which they won 20 out of 23.
The team seemed to respond to Harrelson's more disciplined, follow-the-rules approach, and on August 10 found themselves in first place. After slipping down a bit, they were back on top on September 1, but played .500 ball the rest of the way to finish four games behind the NL East Champion Pirates. The 1990 Mets were 71-49 under their rookie manager. If projected over 162 games (hardly scientific, we know), that .592 percentage would equal a division-winning 96 victories. Things fell apart for Harrelson and the Mets in 1991, but that's another column for another day.
GM Joe McIlvaine completely revamped the Mets underachieving bullpen for the 1997 season, with closer John Franco the lone holdover from 1996. Among the new, not necessarily improved, arms was that of Toby Borland. Imported from the Phillies with Ricardo Jordan in exchange for Rico Brogna, Borland's five-week stint with the Amazins wasn't pretty: 6.08 ERA, 1.9 WHIP, 0.5 K/BB. He was traded to the Red Sox, ironically, for one of 1996's retreads, Rick Trlicek.
Those mid-'90s Mets bullpens could have used a reliable arm like that of Dyar Miller, who is 67 today. His 1980 numbers included a 1.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 2.55 K/BB in 31 games, good for a WAR of 1.3. He was less effective in 1981 and, at age 35, was released at the end of that season.
In one of the rare missteps of Frank Cahsen's first seven years at Mets GM, he sent reliever Jeff Reardon to Montreal for outfielder Ellis Valentine on this date in 1981. The move was designed to boost the team's lagging offense, but in 526 plate appearances over two seasons with the Mets, Valentine hit only 13 home runs, drove in 69, and posted a slant line of .261/.272/.389. Reardon would finish his career in 1994 with 880 games, 367 saves, 3.16 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 2.45 K/BB and 19.1 WAR.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
May 29, 1753, saw the premiere of composer Joseph Haydn's first opera, "Der Krumme Teufel," or "The Limping Devil." Tim Teufel's offense on this date in 1991 was limping along with a slant line of .118/.167/.206 in 36 plate appearances, but his legs were fine. The account of the previous night's game in the May 29 edition of The New York Times marveled at his surprise stolen base in the eighth inning--his first in two years and only his sixth in six seasons with the Amazins--that led to his scoring the tie-breaking, and ultimately game-winning, run against the Cubs. It would be Teufel's last hurrah as a Mets player; on May 31 he was traded to San Diego for Garry Templeton.