The Mets have played 162-plus regular season games five times in team history. The most recent time that's happened is, of course, when Al Leiter shut out the Reds in a one-game playoff to determine the winner of the 1999 N.L. Wild Card. Before that, the last time a Mets season stretched out an extra day was 20 years earlier, thanks to the events of May 25, 1979.
Craig Swan got the start for New York that day and he was fantastic, holding the eventual World Series champion Pittsburgh to three runs in eight innings while striking out nine. Unfortunately, Pirates lefty Jim Rooker was just a little bit better, giving up just one run to put Swan in line for the hard luck loss. As it turned out, Craig happened to be the beneficiary of some late-inning thaumaturgy a full year before the Mets' marketing department would officially declare that the Magic Was Back. In the bottom of the ninth, Lee Mazzilli got one back with an RBI double and then John Stearns singled with two out to send the game into extras.
However, just two frames into bonus baseball, Mother Nature conjured up a surprise of her own. From the sixth inning on, the two teams had been playing in an ever-thickening mist. By the eleventh, the fog rolling in off of Flushing Bay was so soupy that it reduced visibility to nil. Joel Youngblood, leading off for the home team, lofted a fly to right. Outfielder Bill Robinson did his best to track it through the murk, but by the time the ball returned to earth, he wasn't within 35 feet of the landing spot. The official scorer credited Youngblood with a triple, but there'd be no chance for the next batter to bring him home. Umpires suspended play on account of fog. When it didn't clear a hour later, the men in blue declared it a tie and sent everyone home. Final score: Mets 3, Pirates 3
- Happy birthday to Scott Hairston, who's 33 as of today. Hairston had his best year as big leaguer with the Mets in 2012, setting career highs for games played (134) and home runs (20). While a bat like that would certainly look good in the lineup this year considering the state of the outfield at present, truth is that kind of production would play just about any year in Mets history. Scott is one of just seven outfielders to connect for 20-plus homers and slug over .500 in a season for New York.
- Jim Marshall is 82. An original Met, Marshall got off to a hot start in 1962, triple slashing .344/.400/.656 during the month of April. General manager George Weiss chose to sell high and traded him to the Pirates, with whom Marshall slumped to .220/.319/.350. It would have been a savvy move, had the Mets received pretty much anything other than pitcher Vinegar Bend Mizell in return. The lefty posted a 7.34 ERA for his new team and was nearly one win under replacement in just 17 appearances.
- Chris Young turns 34. Much like fellow birthday boy Scott Hairston, Young has slumped badly in his first year as an ex-Met. So badly that it's no guarantee he'd even be an improvement over the dregs coagulating in the bottom of the team's current rotation. Through six starts with Washington's triple-A affiliate, Young has pitched just 31 innings and given up eight home runs. He's also sporting a Vinegar Bend Mizell-esque 7.26 ERA
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
It was on this date in 1961 that President John F. Kennedy told Congress of his belief that America should land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. NASA rose to JFK's challenge and on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man on the surface of our planet's only natural satellite. Reportedly, Mets reliever Tug McGraw said this while watching the broadcast of Armstrong and fellow Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin bounce about in low-G: "If we can get a man on the moon, we can win the World Series." Much like NASA, the Mets met that challenge by the end of the decade, too.