Major League Baseball made a minor rule change on this date in 1989, though it's one the Mets, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the teams were happy to see go into effect. One year after calling for stricter enforcement of balks, MLB informed umpires the league would go back to the pre-1988 interpretation of the rule.
Mets pitchers were called for a franchise-high 40 balks in 1988, just one off the league-leading 41 committed by the Montreal Expos. Penalized most often was David Cone, who in the eyes of umps, flinched, twitched, blanched, or otherwise carried out some sort of illegal tell ten times while standing on the pitching rubber. No other Met has ever reached a double-digit total. Right behind Coney was teammate Sid Fernandez, who got flagged for nine balks. Bob Ojeda took third place with seven. Those remain the three highest balk totals in Mets history, though Bobby O shares the bronze with Dwight Gooden and Jerry Koosman, who also violated Official Rule 8.05 seven times in 1984 and 1975 respectively.
Andres Torres turns 35. The outfielder is back with the Giants this year after a single season in Flushing. Now two seasons removed from the 5.1 bWAR campaign he posted in 2010, Torres will be hard pressed to find playing time in San Francisco, seeing as center field is manned by the player the Mets traded him for.
One day after watching the Marlins reel in free agent Carlos Delgado, GM Omar Minaya found the Mets a first baseman on this date in 2005 by trading minor leaguer Ian Bladergroen to Boston for Doug Mientkiewicz. In 313 plate appearances with the Mets, the disemvoweled Mientkiewicz hit 11 homers, or the same amount Mike Jacobs, his late season replacement, hit in 200 fewer trips to the plate. Minaya let Mintkiewicz walk at the end of the year, then parlayed Jacobs's power surge into the first baseman he'd wanted all along: Carlos Delgado.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Happy birthday to Dr. Frankenstrat himself, Eddie Van Halen, who turns 58 today. The only Met to use Van Halen has his at-bat music last year was Rob Johnson, The backup catcher strode to the plate to the strains of "Panama", which would really be more appropriate for Ruben Tejada. Then again, given Ruben is just 23, he would have come of age during the Gary Cherone years, so one can't blame him if he wasn't into Van Halen as a youth.