This Date In Mets History: July 31 — What the hail? Sanchez says farewell to season after taxi mishap

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Loss of Duaner Sanchez in 2006 left Mets fans pondering what might have been all that winter.

Duaner Sanchez sustained a season-ending injury in a taxi ride in the early hours of July 31, 2006. It being the day of the trade deadline, Omar Minaya had precious few hours to find a replacement for the valuable setup man who compiled 14 holds and a 1.2 WAR over the first four months of the season. He sent Xavier Nady, whose right-handed bat would not be adequately replaced in the lineup, to the Pirates for reliever Roberto Hernandez and enigmatic, underachieving starter Oliver Perez. Minaya later added Guillermo Mota to the bullpen mix.

In a parallel universe, Sanchez stays home that night, the Mets never deal for Mota, and subsequently win Game 2 and take the NCLS from the Cardinals in six. But who starts Game Four if Perez is still with the Pirates? If it's Darren Oliver, then who saves the day in Game 3? And if the NLCS goes to Game Seven, does Steve Trachsel get a shot at redemption? Does Endy Chavez still make THE catch? And does Nady get the big game-winning hit...or do we still end up blaming Beltran?

Other Transactions
A couple of Cy Young Award winners came and went on this date, with Frank Viola joining the Mets in 1989, and Bret Saberhagen departing in 1995. The Mets won zero division titles over that span.

Two less-heralded trades on July 31, 1999, proved invaluable. In a swap of center fielders, Darryl Hamilton came over from Colorado while the slumping Brian McRae headed west. Hamilton posted an .898 OPS and 1.2 WAR over the last two months of the season. Shawon Dunston, acquired from the Cards for Craig Paquette, had a memorable 12-pitch at-bat that resulted in a leadoff single in the 15th inning of Game 5 of the NLCS versus the Braves that ended with Robin Ventura's walk-off "grand slam single." In Game 160 of the regular season, when the Mets needed to win every game to make the postseason, Dunston led off the 11th inning and scored the winning run on a more conventional walk-off single by Ventura.

Birthday
It's the big 7-0 for right-hander Billy Wynne, one of 20 pitchers who started at least one game for the 1967 Mets. Shelled in his only start, he was unscored-upon in five relief outings, which must have impressed the White Sox, who asked that he be included with Tommy Davis and Jack Fisher in the deal that brought Tommie Agee and Al Weis to Shea. Wynne had a pretty good year with the ChiSox in 1969, but Agee and Weis had a better one.

Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Leon "Bull" Durham was born on this date in 1957. In 1984, the Cubs brain trust decided to move Durham from the outfield to first base, thereby making Bill Buckner expendable. Cubs GM (and future Mets manager) Dallas Green shipped Buckner off to Boston (for pitcher Dennis Eckersley), where he would contribute to the 1986 Mets World Championship when Mookie Wilson's grounder went through his legs, allowing the winning run to score in Game Six. Ironically, a ball that went through Durham's legs opened the floodgates to a Padres come-from-behind rally in the fifth and deciding game of the 1984 NLCS. Chicago lost the game and the series

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