The Tom Seaver trade rumors began in earnest on this date in 1976 when a number of media sources reported a trade brewing that would send Tom Terrific to the Dodgers for fellow right-hander Don Sutton. Perhaps due to the negative reaction by the fan base, the trade never happens, but management amped up its campaign to paint Seaver as an ingrate. Aided by sports columnist Dick Young, whose son-in-law was then working in the team’s front office, words like “selfish” and “troublemaker” were frequently used to describe The Franchise. It would culminate in the “Midnight Massacre” the following June.
“It’s like the front office is rooting for you to have a bad year.” – Tom Seaver
Exactly one year later Texas Rangers second baseman Lenny Randle, upset over losing his status as starting second baseman, got into a brawl with manager Frank Lucchesi, who ended up in the hospital and would need plastic surgery. Randle received a 30-day suspension, during which time the Mets traded for him.
The irony, of course, is that Mets management smeared the character of the best pitcher in baseball because he wanted to be paid as such, but, given the chance for a relatively cheap upgrade at third base (they sent well-traveled utility man Rick Auerbach to the Rangers), were willing not only to overlook the charge of aggravated battery against Randle, but even offered Lucchesi $10,000 to settle his lawsuit against Randle out of court.
That’s not a knock against Randle, who by all accounts was not a man prone to violence, but rather against the monumental hypocrisy of M. Donald Grant and company. Ask to be paid something close to what you’re worth? Heinous. Shatter your manager’s cheekbone because he calls you a punk? Well, we all have our bad days now and then.
Brad Emaus, who turns 27 today, won the starting second base job by default in 2011 primarily because he was a Rule 5 draft pick and everyone else either had options or simply wasn’t an option. In his 11-game stint before being returned to the Blue Jays, he played 83 innings flawlessly, with a range factor well above league average. However, Emaus showed none of the hitting prowess he hadexhibited in the minors, including the 15 homers, 75 RBI and .874 OPS, mostly in AAA, in 2010.
Happy big 4–0 to right-hander Paul Wilson. Widely considered to be the best of the Generation K trio, he endured a rough rookie season in 1996 followed by three years of arm woes. He resurfaced in 2000 and through May 2005 was a regular in the Tampa Bay and Cincinnati starting rotations, albeit with little success. His best season was 2004, when he posted an 11–6 record despite a mediocre 4.36 ERA.
The Mets literally had little use for veteran infielder Craig Paquette, who is 44 today. He put in only 19 appearances at the plate in 1998 before being dispatched to AAA until the following August when New York traded him to St. Louis for Shawon Dunston.
Amazin’ly Tenuous Connection
Beer baron August Busch was born on this date in 1899. In 1953 he talked his company’s board into buying the St. Louis Cardinals and served as the team’s president for more than two decades. The fates of the Cards and Mets have been inexorably entwined since the Amazins’ very first game, in which St. Louis set the tone for the new franchise’s historically bad inaugural season by whipping them 11–4.
At the end of the 1964 season, the Mets put a scare into the Cardinals, beating them in the first two games of a three-game series. St. Louis salvaged the final contest to clinch the pennant and avoid a three-way tie for first. In 1969 the Mets supplanted the Cards as NL champs.
The Cardinals practically gave Keith Hernandez to New York in 1983. From 1985–1987 the NL champions were Cards, Mets, Cards.
In 2000, the Mets beat the Cardinals in the NLCS to advance to the World Series. St. Louis, alas, returned the favor in 2006.