Steroid hysteria means that this weekend will be a boring one for the town of Cooperstown, New York. A mere three men will have their bronze likenesses hung on the Hall of Fame's walls today. The youngest of the trio, former Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert, has been dead for 74 years. Meanwhile, Mike Piazza will have to wait until next year. Hopefully.
With any luck, Mike won't have to twiddle his thumbs for as long as another great Mets catcher did. Gary Carter's interminable induction wait finally ended on this date a decade ago. His entry to the Hall on July 27, 2003, ended a six-year period of limbo in which the second-best catcher of all-time according to Jay Jaffe's JAWS metric (and first when it comes to peak JAWS) slowly gained the BBWAA's support. Despite Carter's desire to sport a Mets hat atop the bronzed curls on his plaque, the Hall of Fame (rightly) depicted the ebullient backstop wearing the stylized "eMb" logo of Expos de Montréal Baseball, the team for which he played all but one year of his historically great peak seasons. You can read the entirety of Carter's induction speech here.
The Mets could actually claim ties to two members of Cooperstown's 2003 class: Carter and first baseman Eddie Murray. Unlike the Kid, Murray cruised into the Hall in his first year of eligibility, undoubtedly helped by his milestone number of home runs (504) and hits (3,255). America's sportswriters were much kinder to Steady Eddie than Jay Jaffe's equations, since he rates as a below-average selection when it comes to both career and peak JAWS. Unlike Carter, there was no doubt as to which team's insignia Murray would wear for his plaque. The 13 years he spent with the Baltimore Orioles easily trumped the two he spent as a Met.
Current first base coach Tom Goodwin turns 45 today. In addition to his on-field duties, Goodwin also serves at the Mets outfield and base running instructor. While the outfield defense has been bad this year (fifth-worst in baseball by UZR), he does have the team circling the bags better than any other club. The Mets have picked up nearly 14 more runs than an average nine would on the base paths according to Fangraph's BsR.
Mets fans were forced to say farewell to a outfielder who featured prominently on both of the franchise's World Series-winning teams on this date. In 1975, New York severed ties with Cleon Jones, the culmination of a season-long feud between the Miracle Met hero and chairman M. Donald Grant. Earlier in the year, Jones was arrested for indecent exposure after police found him asleep in a van with a woman, who was also apprehended, but for marijuana possession. Though the charges against Jones were later dropped, Grant fined him $2,000 and forced him into publicly apologizing. Then, in mid-July, the outfielder refused to take the field after a pinch hitting appearance, leading manger Yogi Berra to issue a him-or-me ultimatum. The Mets opted to side with Yogi (temporary, as it turned out - Grant fired him less than two weeks later).
The other outfielder to depart on this date was Lenny Dykstra, who was shipped to Philadelphia (along with Roger McDowell) on July 26, 1989. In return, the Mets received the deeply unpopular Juan Samuel. A native of the Dominican Republic, Samuel held firm the belief that "you don't walk off the island" and finished among the top ten in outs made six times during his career. Dykstra, on the other hand, drew a league-leading 129 walks in 1993 and helped the Phillies reach the World Series.
Game of Note
In a game that took place on this date in some indeterminate future year, the Mercury Mets lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Turn Ahead the Clock Night. No one on the Red Planet nine could do much against rookie fireballer Kris Benson, but the futility of two players deserves special mention. Rickey Henderson (pictured here) played "left sector" and went hitless in three at-bats, while "intermediate station" defender Rey Ordonez took an 0-for-2.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Bugs Bunny made his theatrical debut 73 years ago today in the Merrie Melodies short "A Wild Hare". The Wascally Wabbit went on to star in tons of memorable Warner Brothers films, including the classic "Baseball Bugs", which is likely the origin of the phrase "Bugs Bunny curve" even though he clearly strikes out the side using an incredible change up. According to Google News, a number of Mets pitchers have been described as having a Bugs Bunny curve, though none with more frequency than Livan Hernandez. You can watch Livan change speeds between slow and slower and slowest in this clip. Be on the look out for the bender that seems to move with such a snail's pace that the SNY gun doesn't even register it.