July 26, 2012 – RCT: Brooklyn’s in the Air When Dodgers Fly to Mets


The design of Citi Field, with its Jackie Robinson Rotunda, evokes Ebbets Field but when the Los Angeles Dodgers visited this past weekend, one could almost hear the echoes of Hilda Chester and her famed cowbell as the Mets paid tribute to 96-year old Mike Sandlock, the oldest living Brooklyn Dodger before Saturday’s game on July 21. 

A scrapbook of this Old Greenwich, Connecticut native’s career would read like a baseball history book. A minor league teammate of Stan Musial, he debuted in the majors with Casey Stengel’s Boston Braves in 1942, singling and scoring in his first at bat in a game started by Carl Hubbell of the New York Giants. After serving in the military in World War II, Sandlock joined the Dodgers in 1945, batting .282 in 80 games. He subsequently became a valued member of the Dodgers’ minor league system as he served a quiet yet significant role in baseball integration by mentoring the late Hall of Famer Roy Campanella prior to “Campy” joining the team in Brooklyn. 

Roy Campanella was openly grateful for the help Sandlock provided him especially considering the open hostility African- American ballplayers faced during this era as well as the fact that they were competitors for the same position on the same team. While there is statue at MCU Park in Brooklyn of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson commemorating racial tolerance, Mike Sandlock is a living monument to racial tolerance. 

Interspersed with his time in the major leagues was his tenure in the Pacific Coast League in the late 1940’s and 1950’s where he was the opposing catcher in Joe DiMaggio’s final game in a Yankee uniform in an exhibition game following the 1951 season. 

Meeting Sandlock, he has the firm handshake of a former professional athlete and someone who continues to play golf on a regular basis. Recalling his playing days, he said the fans at Ebbets Field were “the best in world” and playing there made you feel like a big leaguer. Accompanied by family and friends at Citi Field, Sandlock swapped stories of Evansville, Indiana, one of his teams in the minor leagues, with Evansville native and Dodger manager/Yankee legend Don Mattingly before the game. 

Sandlock, noted for his ability to handle knuckleball pitchers, also had an animated discussion with Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey. Watching Sandlock gesture with Dickey, the years between them seemed to disappear and one almost expected him to grab a mitt and catch a bullpen session with the Mets pitcher. Because of his ability to handle the knuckleball, Sandlock was twice traded with Johnny Lindell, a renown knuckleballer of his day, because the acquiring team needed someone to catch him. 

A friend of Sandlock said he tells the story of hitting a home run in Brooklyn that broke a clock that was never subsequently fixed at Ebbets Field, which Sandlock jokes may have been why they left Brooklyn for Los Angeles. 

Television personality Larry King was also on the field prior to the game on Saturday. King, a native of Brooklyn and a life long Dodger fan, said watching the Dodgers play was “like going home,” bringing back memories of their storied battles with their crosstown rivals, the New York Giants. 

With Messrs Sandlock and King harkening back to the 1940’s and 1950’s, the current Mets might be content to return to the halcyon days of five weeks ago in June when they had a healthy Johan Santana, Frank Francisco, and Dillon Gee. Weighed down by the loss of their closer and two starting pitchers in addition to some ill-timed batting slumps, the Mets have lost 10 of their first 11 games since returning from the All-Star break. 

Three poor performances in a row by Santana after sustaining an ankle injury against the Cubs on July 6 convinced the Mets hierarchy to place the former Cy Young award winner on the 15- day disabled list. To replace Santana in the rotation, the Mets called up pitching prospect Matt Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo 


July 19, 2012 – RCT: Mets Seek to Steady Themselves After Stumbling


For a team that has teetered at various points this season only to defy expectations and rebound again, the Mets find themselves at their latest crossroads in the 2012 baseball season. Three losses in Atlanta to open the second half of the season, followed by a disappointing loss to the Nationals in Washington on Tuesday night left the Mets in the middle of a five game losing streak, their longest of the season 

Starting pitching, which has been the foundation of the team this year, faltered against the Braves as Chris Young left after three innings in a 7-5 loss in the opener on Friday while R.A. Dickey and Johan Santana were marginally better on Saturday and Sunday in going five innings each and allowing five runs and six runs, respectively. This three game lapse followed an impressive stretch where the Mets starting pitchers had gone at least six innings in 20 out of 22 games. 

Of greater concern has been the performance of the bullpen, which is without its closer Frank Francisco. In Saturday’s 8-7 loss, the Mets offense came from behind twice, but the Braves rallied for three runs in the eight inning by singling three times with two outs against Bobby Parnell. 

Similarly, in the 5-4 loss to the Nationals on Tuesday, the bullpen was unable to protect leads in the ninth and tenth innings as the Nationals rallied to win. The game featured Jonathan Niese’s seven innings of one run ball and Jordany Valdespin’s dramatic pinch hit three run home run which had given the Mets a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning. 

With closer Frank Francisco on the disabled list and having suffered a setback in his recovery from an oblique injury, general manager Sandy Alderson declared finding bullpen help by the July 31 trade deadline to be “the number one priority” although not at the expense of the team’s long term plans. A promising note in the bullpen has been the debut of 25-year old lefty Josh Edgin, who struck out six batters in 2 1/3 innings in two appearances against the Braves. 

With Dillon Gee on the disabled list, there was speculation that the Mets would call up pitching prospect Matt Harvey from Triple- A Buffalo, especially after Harvey held Toledo hitless until the sixth inning in his latest start on Monday. However, the Mets declined to call up Harvey and announced on Tuesday that 41-year old Miguel Batista would start against the Dodgers at Citi Field on Saturday. 

As Alderson stated about Harvey, “We want to make sure that when he starts his Major League career, it’s an auspicious start… His development … needs to be independent of what we’re doing at the Major League level.” Alderson indicated that Harvey would eventually be called up this season. Perhaps it would seem at the moment that the 6 foot 4 inch Matt Harvey’s status with the Mets is similar to that of Harvey, in the current Broadway revival of the same name– an unseen, but definite presence. 

The Mets enter play on Wednesday in third place at 46-44, seven games behind the division leading Nationals, and 3 1⁄2 games behind the Braves for the second wildcard spot. The Mets return to Citi Field on Friday for a six-game homestand against the Dodgers and the Nationals.


July 12, 2012 – RCT: Mets Forecast: Mostly Sunny With a Chance of Playoffs


Preseason prognosticators who pegged the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins as consensus winners of the Eastern Division with the Mets barely glimpsing first place from a distance have been defied by the New Yorkers first half success. As major league baseball returns from the All-Star break this weekend, the Mets find themselves in third place with a record of 46 and 40, 4 1/2 games behind the Washington Nationals, but in the thick of the playoff hunt as they trail the Atlanta Braves by only 1⁄2 game for the second wildcard spot. 

Concerns about Johan Santana were allayed as he overcame shoulder surgery, stabilized the Mets rotation and pitched the first no-hitter in the franchise’s 50 year history. After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and the Best Seller Lists, R.A. Dickey pitched consecutive one-hiiters and was selected to the All-Star team with a record of 12 and 1. February Mets fans who wanted David Wright traded for prospects at the July trading deadline, now want the team to sign the National League’s third leading hitter and his .351 batting average to a contract extension. 

The team’s resilience has been exemplified by the offense’s success scoring two out runs and by veterans Scott Hairston and Chris Young capably replacing the injured Jason Bay and Mike Pelfrey. Rookies Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Jordany Valdespin, and other Buffalo Bison callups have been key contributors and the departure of Jose Reyes has barely stirred a whimper with the capable play of Miguel Tejada. 

However, while starting pitching has been a strength of the team this season, two starters were felled by injuries in recent days as Johan Santana’s first start after the All-Star break has been delayed until Sunday because of an ankle injury suffered last 

Friday against the Cubs. More significantly, pitcher Dillon Gee was hospitalized Tuesday with numbness in the fingers of his right hand and found to have a blood clot in a right shoulder artery. Gee underwent an angiogram and his return is unknown as doctors seek to determine the extent of his injury. Ironically, Gee’s injury followed one of his best performances of the season as he threw eight innings of one run ball against the Cubs on Saturday. 

The return from the All-Star breaks takes the Mets on the road with three games against the Braves this weekend in Atlanta followed by a trip to Washington to face the Nationals. The Mets are 18-12 against their division rivals but have lost four out of six to the Nationals, who they will play 12 times in the second half of the season. 

Among the other questions/concerns to be answered as the season progresses are strenghtening the bullpen; whether Johan Santana’s surgically repaired shoulder can sustain another 15 starts down the stretch; what deals the team may make at the July 31 trading deadline; and whether the playoff push causes the Mets to call up the highly touted prospect Matt Harvey from Triple-A Buffalo sooner than they may have anticipated. 

In other news, Reggie Jackson questioned the Hall of Fame credentials of the late Gary Carter (among others) in Sports Illustrated, thus irking more Mets fans this week than in any other week since powering the Oakland As to a World Series win over the Mets in 1973. Perhaps Jackson was suffering from a case of Reggie Bar deprivation, causing him to forget that Carter was the National League catcher for many of the All-Star games that he played in, but to his credit, Mr. October apologized to the Carter family for his remarks. 


June 28, 2012 – RCT: Turner Typifies Mets Early Season Success


When Mets infielder Justin Turner singled in two runs with two outs in the first inning of Friday’s 6 to 4 victory over the Yankees, it continued a trend that has helped fuel the Mets rise from preseason pessimism to midseason contention. Clutch hitting with men in scoring position and two outs has compensated for a lack of homerun firepower, with the Mets batting .277 and scoring a major league leading 161 runs in these situations. Turner, with his .462 average and 8 RBI in 13 at bats in such moments, has been a key contributor. 

Turner, who’s batting .257 overall this season, said he “bears down” and tries to take a “short swing and go the other way on a good pitch,” in these situations. Since being called up by the Mets in April of 2011, Turner has excelled with runners in scoring position and two outs, hitting .364 in these spots last season. 

In setting a Mets rookie record by driving in at least one run in seven consecutive games in May 2011, Turner became only the third major league player since 1961 to record such a streak within his first 50 major league games. 

With the departure of some bigger name players in the past couple of years, Turner described the 2012 Mets, lead by manager Terry Collins and veterans David Wright and Johan Santana, as a “group effort… we pull together…we pick each other up…we get excited together.” Noting that manager Terry Collins likes to “mix and match” players, Turner tries to make the most of his opportunities. Turner called playing for Collins “awesome,” and said he is “fiery and intense” and demands that from his players, as well. 

Turner enjoys interacting with fans on Twitter and senses a growing excitement among them about the team when he meets them and sees the increased number of fans sporting Mets caps around the city. Turner said the fans excitement during the Johan Santana no hitter was evident as the game progressed and the no hitter could not have happened to a better person considering everything Santana overcame to return from shoulder surgery. “It’s been huge to have him back,” he declared. 

The Mets enter play on Wednesday in third place in the National League East with a record of 39 and 36, a game behind second place Atlanta and 4 1⁄2 games behind division leading Washington. This past weekend featured three exciting games against the Yankees at Citi Field with the Bronx Bombers taking two of three. 

R.A. Dickey saw his streak of 44 2/3 innings without an earned run end in Sunday’s 6-5 loss although he did not figure in the decision. Perhaps a letdown from the Yankee series followed by a late night/early morning flight to Chicago seemed to contribute to two sluggish losses against the Cubs on Monday and Tuesday. 

The more significant loss for the Mets occurred when closer Frank Francisco was placed on the 15 day disabled list on Sunday with a left oblique strain. Despite some shaky moments earlier this season, Francisco has 18 saves and has only allowed two runs in his last 14 appearances. Hard throwing righthander Bobby Parnell was designated as the new closer with increased roles for Miguel Batista, Jon Rauch, and Ramon Ramirez as seventh and eighth inning setup men. 

Speaking of his injured closer and its effect on the bullpen, Terry Collins stated, “When you lose that guy, now it disrupts all the little pieces that you had in place to get there. It puts guys in different roles and different situations, and it can really affect you. But we’re going to have to deal with it.” 


June 21, 2012 – RCT: R.A. Dickey Leads the Way for Mets


Judging by the success of pitcher R.A. Dickey in 2012, the New York Mets may insist that all of their pitchers take up mountain climbing in the off-season. Less than six months after the 37-year- old right hander risked his career by climbing the 19,336 feet of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds and awareness for Bombay Teen Challenge, a non-profit organization that combats sex trafficking, he is pitching his way into the finest season by a Mets pitcher since the days of the Ronald Reagan presidency and parachute pants. 

It’s been a season of stunning success for the major league’s only knuckleball hurler. After winning eight games all of last season, Dickey has won nine decisions in a row to lead the National League with 11 wins against only one loss. He’s also tops in strikeouts with 103 and earned run average at 2.00. 

Johan Santana may have pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history this month, but R.A. Dickey became the first pitcher since Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988 to throw consecutive one- hitters, as his dancing knuckleball baffled the Tampa Bay Rays on June 13 and the Baltimore Orioles on June 18 into a combined two hits and 25 strikeouts. 

As Dickey stated after the Orioles game, “I’m riding a pretty good wave right now.” 

In his outing against Tampa Bay, Dickey reached 32 2/3 scoreless innings to break the team record set by Jerry Koosman in 1973 before allowing an unearned run. His current stretch of 42 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run is second in team history to Dwight Gooden’s stretch of 49 innings in 1985. 

Gooden’s Cy Young award winning season of 1985 with its 24-4 record, 1.53 earned run average and 268 strikeouts, David Cone’s breakout 20-3 season in 1988, and Tom Seaver’s three Cy Young 

seasons of 1969, 1973, and 1975 as well as his 20 win 1971 season with its 1.76 earned run average are among the seasons at the top of the mountain of best seasons by a Mets pitcher that Dickey seeks to reach. 

At this point, Dickey is a top candidate to join Seaver and Gooden as the only two Mets pitchers to start the All-Star game for the National League this July. 

Amazingly, before being called up by the Mets from the minor leagues 41 games into the 2010 season, Dickey had been a journeyman pitcher with 22 career wins in seven seasons in the American League. Dickey calls to mind other famous knuckleballers like Wilbur Wood, Phil and Joe Niekro, Charlie Hough, and Tim Wakefield, who thrived in their late 30s and in some cases, even well into their 40s. 

Given his recent success, two things can be certain: the Mets will hope that Dickey has similar success and secondly, he won’t be the only pitcher throwing knuckleballs for much longer. 

In contrast to the heights reached by R.A. Dickey, teammate Jason Bay’s three year career with the Mets pitfalled again when he suffered a concussion after slamming into the leftfield wall while trying to nab a drive off the bat of Jay Bruce in Friday’s 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, one week after coming off the disabled list. 

The outcome of the game was secondary as manager Terry Collins and Bay’s teammates spoke in hushed tones about the serious injury sustained by Bay, a player described by Collins as, “One of the finest people I’ve ever had on my team.” Bay, who suffered a season ending concussion in 2010, was placed on the seven day disabled list but his prognosis is uncertain at the moment. 

The Mets enter play on Wednesday in second place at 37-32, three games behind the Washington Nationals. 

On a lighter note, Citi Field hosted a post game concert by REO Speedwagon on Friday June 15. Coincidentally, a couple of other stars from the 1970s, Jerry Koosman and Cleon Jones were in attendance representing the Mets Alumni Association as part of Citibank’s 7th Annual Global Community Day…if only baseball players’ careers lasted as long as rock musicians.


June 14, 2012 – RCT: Mets Shake Off Slide With Big Win in Tampa


If the recent 7 and 4 homestand with its Johan Santana no-hitter seemed like a magic carpet ride, the start of the current nine game road trip must have felt like a three hour commute to work for the New York Mets. Several late inning defensive lapses contributed to losses in five of six games against the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees before Terry Collins’ crew rebounded to take the opener against the Rays at Tampa on Tuesday in a resounding 11 to 2 victory. 

Solid starting pitching and clutch hitting (the Mets lead the majors in two-out runs) have keyed their early season success, but even such attributes can fall short if the defense suffers. As Manager Terry Collins stated after the Yankees edged the Mets 5 to 4 on Sunday, “We aren’t the kind of club that can make a lot of mistakes, and when you give teams as good as the New York Yankees, or anybody else in the big leagues, multiple-out innings, they’re going to get you.” 

However, after giving up two quick runs to Tampa in the first inning, righthander Chris Young gutted his way into the sixth inning as he gave the Mets a chance to catch up as they scored six runs in the seventh inning enroute to a season high 11 runs, earning Young his first win in his second start since returning from last year’s season ending shoulder surgery. Ike Davis provided cause for optimism as he crushed a three home run and rookies Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin batted at the top of the lineup and combined for five hits and five runs as Valdespin added a career high four RBI. 

In the wake of recent struggles by reliever Jon Rauch in the setup role, Terry Collins announced prior to Tuesday’s game that reliever Bobby Parnell would see more eighth inning setup

opportunities while 41-year-old Miguel Batista would also assume more of a late inning role. Additional bullpen help could be a few weeks away as Jenrry Mejia begins working in relief for Triple-A Buffalo as he continues his comeback from Tommy John surgery. 

Mets enter play on Wednesday with a record of 33 and 29, in third place, one game out of second, and five games behind the division leading Nationals. With a record of 9 and 1, R.A. Dickey is tied for the National League lead in wins. Lucas Duda has hit five home runs in his last 12 games and Scott Hairston is batting .406 with five home runs since May 24. Leftfielder Jason Bay returned to the lineup this past weekend after being disabled on April 24. The Mets return to Citi Field on Friday June 15 to start a nine game homestand against the Reds, Orioles, and Yankees. 


June 7, 2012 – RCT: YES! Santana Pitches First Mets No- Hitter


For Mets fans, it was a weekend to celebrate a lefthander from their past and a present day lefty whose future looks brighter than it did a few months ago. On Friday June 1, Johan Santana no-hit the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field in an 8-0 win before a crowd of 27,069 gratefully ecstatic fans. 

For the Mets, it was the first no-hitter in franchise history, coming in game 8,020 of the team’s 50 year existence. For Santana, the career high 134 pitch performance punctuated a successful return from shoulder surgery which caused him to miss all of the 2011 season and left his career in doubt. 

By finally having a pitcher throw a no-hitter, Mets ended a streak which had left them as the team having gone the longest without a no-hitter to their name. The drought seemed to defy logic considering the number of quality pitchers the Mets have had in their history and by the fact that seven of them, including Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, and David Cone pitched no-hitters after leaving the Mets. In fact, former Met Nolan Ryan tossed a major league record seven no-hitters on his way to Cooperstown after being traded in 1971. 

Unlike his tidy complete game four hit shutout against the Padres six days earlier, Santana seemed to labor early against the Cardinals, walking four in the first five innings and elevating his pitch count. 

But Santana caught a break in the sixth inning when former Met Carlos Beltran lead off with a line shot down the leftfield line that was called foul even though replays showed the ball kicking up chalk on the foul line.

With the fans sensing history in the making and the tension mounting, Whitestone native Mike Baxter made the defensive play of the game, crashing into the leftfield wall and into Mets lore, robbing Yadier Molina of an extra basehit and preserving the no- hitter in the seventh inning. Baxter subsequently left the game with an injury and could miss six weeks with a displaced right collarbone. 

After the game, Santana thanked his teammates and stated, ”I know how much this means to New York and to the New York Mets.” Manager Terry Collins, who had Santana and his surgically repaired shoulder on a 110-115 pitch count before the game, was torn about leaving Santana in the game and said afterwards about the no-hitter and Santana’s comeback from his injury. Collins said, “I just couldn’t take him out…He never gives up, never gives in. He said, ‘I’m going to come back from this,’ and it led to this.” In deference to Santana’s extra workload, Collins later announced that his ace would get two extra days rest before his next start on Friday. 

Two days after Santana’s historic outing, the Mets took time out to acknowledge a part of their history as former Mets closer John Franco was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony on June 3. 

Joined by among others, former teammates Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Al Leiter, Franco said, “You can’t judge a person by his size, but you could judge them by the heart he has. And I have always had a big heart. Every time I went out there I gave 150 percent….And I enjoyed every minute of it, through the good times and the bad times.” 

The times have been mostly good for the Mets lately as they completed a 7 and 4 homestand before dropping the opener against the Nationals 7-6 in Washington on Tuesday. 

Johan Santana and RA Dickey won four games combined during this recent stretch which included 25 consecutive scoreless innings by Mets pitching against the Cardinals. The Mets entered play on Wednesday with a record of 31-25, in third place, 1 1⁄2 games behind the division leading Nationals. 


May 31, 2012 – RCT: Scott Hairston Is Heir to a Baseball Legacy

Baseball and history go together, and for Scott Hairston of the New York Mets, that history reaches back over 60 years and breathes anew everyday. 

The Hairstons are one of only three families that have sent three generations of players to the major leagues, as Scott is the son and grandson of former major leaguers Jerry Hairston, Sr. and Sam Hairston. In fact, the baseball family tree of the Hairstons also branches to Scott’s Uncle John Hairston who played with the Chicago Cubs in 1969 and older brother Jerry Hairston, Jr., who has played in the major leagues since 1998. 

Sam Hairston had a brief yet distinctive career when became the first African-American born man to play for the Chicago White Sox in 1951, appearing in four games and batting .400. Speaking to Scott about his grandfather, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 77, he described him as, “Fun to be around…genuine…he loved to talk about his experiences.” 

Sam Hairston was part of that small yet significant group of Negro League ballplayers who braved their way into the major leagues during the early days of integration. 

In speaking of his grandfathers’s quest to play in the major leagues, Scott said, “It was a difficult time,” but to players like his grandfather, “They wanted to prove a point that they could play in the major leagues.”

Scott recalled Sam telling stories about how in a time not so long ago, Negro League players had to sleep in cars or buses or go hungry because hotels and restaurants would not serve them. Yet, Scott said of Sam, “He never showed hatred or bitterness” and he was grateful for what he was able to achieve. After his playing days ended, he spent many years as a coach and scout. 

Scott, who was 17 when Sam passed away, said he was always there to talk to and he’d give advice like,” Make us proud,” or “Listen to your father.” More than making him want to become a great baseball player, Scott said Sam Hairston made you want to become a “better person.” Hearing Scott speak with such affection and admiration as he described listening to his grandfather’s stories at the Thanksgiving table makes one wish they could have met this baseball pioneer. 

A generation after Sam Hairston’s career was cut short, Scott’s father Jerry Hairston, Sr. enjoyed a 14 year career in the major leagues, virtually all with the Chicago White Sox. Scott recalled, “It was exciting to watch Dad play,” and he’d take him regularly to the ballpark, where Scott met stars like Carlton Fisk, Harold Baines, and Ozzie Guillen. Even as a child, Scott said he knew how fortunate he was for the opportunity to interact with major league ballplayers and it made him want to play baseball and experience it himself. 

As for his father’s role in he and his brother becoming ballplayers Scott stated, “He never forced us, but he’d say, ‘If you want to play, I’ll help you.’” But whether they chose baseball or not, Scott knew it was more important to be a good person and work hard at whatever field he pursued. Jerry Hairston, Sr. provides that same wisdom and mentorship to other young men in the Chicago White Sox organization as he continues to be a coach in their minor league system. 

Scott said there’s no sibling rivalry with his older brother, although there was a friendly competition in 2010 when Jerry, Jr. challenged Scott for the brothers’ home run title. “Don’t let me hit more than you,” Jerry joked before the brothers ended the season in a tie with 10 apiece. As for playing against each other, “It never gets old.” They may be playing in major league stadiums, but it conjures up memories of playing “pepper” in the backyard. 

Besides the five members of the Hairston family that have played major league baseball, Scott noted that his brother Justin and three cousins also played pro ball. Maybe more than physically inherited gifts, perhaps it was the perseverance of Sam Hairston, “to prove a point” that he belonged in the majors during the infancy days of baseball integration and the mentorship and support he passed along to his sons which was passed along to Scott and Jerry, Jr. which helps explain the multi-generation success of the Hairston family in pro baseball. With Scott taking his 6 and 4-year-old sons to Citi Field like his Dad did with him, a fourth generation could be in the works. 

And if recent performance is any indicator, the Hairston legacy could prove to be a formidable one. Each generation of Hairston ballplayers has been more productive than the last. Though a lifetime role player, Scott is seeing more playing time this season due to injuries on the Mets squad and he has fully capitalized. In his last nine games Hairston has batted 7 for 20 with three home- runs and nine RBIs. For the season he is batting .264 with six home runs and 21 RBIs as he’s been a key cog in the Mets’ surprising early season successes. 

As of Wednesday the Mets stand at 28-22 just 1.5 games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the National East. Follow the Rockland County Times for full coverage of the Mets season and more exclusive interviews with Mets players.



May 24, 2012 – RCT: Mets Still in Running at Quarter Pole of Season


In the spirit of this Triple Crown horse racing season, the Mets stride into the quarter pole of the 2012 baseball season in fourth place, a “neck” behind third place Miami, and three “lengths” behind division leading Washington, who battles Atlanta for the lead. At 23 wins and 20 losses, the Mets are two games better than last year’s 21 and 22, in the thick of the Eastern Division race, poised in a tight field between the first place Nationals and the surprisingly lackluster yet potentially formidable Phillies at 21 and 23. 

However, as Bodemeister can attest, the race isn’t settled at the quarter pole. Like thoroughbreds, history shows that teams can go “wire to wire” or jump out to big leads before getting caught down the stretch. The 1986 Mets went wire to wire but the champion 1969 Mets were a lowly 20 and 23, nine games out of first place after 43 games while three years later, the Mets with many of the same players, jumped out to a 31 and 12 start and a five game lead, before fading to a distant third place showing in 1972. More recently, the 2007 squad led the field for 159 days in first place before being nipped at the finish line by the Phillies. Given the competitive Eastern Division this season, the Mets will need to work hard and stay healthy to keep pace. 

The Mets are in the middle of a 20 games in 20 days stretch, but they return to Citi Field on Thursday May 24 to play the San Diego Padres and start an 11 game homestand which will also feature series against the Phillies and Cardinals. New York has lost 6 of their last 11 but hope to make up some ground while at Citi Field, where they have a record of 14 and 7 this season. 

Even after going hitless in four at bats on Tuesday, David Wright continued to lead the National League in hitting with a .403 batting average and has the fourth highest batting average since 1980 of any player at this stage of the season. At the other extreme, Ike Davis’ struggles lingered as his average fell to .156 and he was benched by manager Terry Collins against lefty Erik Bedard of Pittsburgh. Said Collins, “Besides trying to make sure we have patience with Ike, we’re also trying to win baseball games.” 

R.A. Dickey earned his 6th victory in 7 decisions by striking out 11 Pirates in a 3 to 2 win on Tuesday and rookie Jeremy Hefner replaces the injured Miguel Batista in the rotation on Thursday night. A starter at Triple A Buffalo, Hefner has looked impressive in two relief appearances with the big club, allowing just two runs in eight innings. Frank Francisco bounced back to earn three saves in four appearances in the past week and the injured Ruben Tejada and Jason Bay could return to the line up by the end of May 


May 17, 2012 – RCT: Backend of Bullpen Is Frontline Concern For Mets


Sometimes timing and perspective are everything. If some casino owning, roulette swinging, baseball genie asked manager Terry Collins before the season if he’d take a 4 and 2 road trip this past week against the Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins, he undoubtedly would have said yes. If the Mets three game sweep of the Phillies had occurred after the Mets bullpen squandered two ninth inning leads in dropping two out of three against the Marlins, they still would have soared north on the New Jersey Turnpike riding the wave of a stirring sweep in Philadelphia. 

Unfortunately for the Mets, the Marlins series followed the Phillies series, so a road trip filled with late inning comebacks was negated by Frank Francisco twice not being able to nail down the ninth inning, leaving the Mets to lament what might have been. More significantly, many began to question Francisco’s role as the Mets closer, especially after Collins removed him from Sunday’s game when he allowed the first three Marlins to reach base and then had to separate Francisco from arguing with the home plate umpire in the 8 to 4 loss. 

With a record of 1-3 and nine saves in 11 opportunities, Francisco has looked dominant at times, twice earning three saves in three consecutive games this season, but he also allowed runs in six out of seven appearances during a stretch in April. The nine for 11 stat is somewhat deceptive, as he clearly was responsible for blowing the game on Sunday, but did not get credited with the blown save. 

Following the loss Sunday, Terry Collins opted not to make an emotional decision and change his closer, and brought Francisco into the game Monday night to close out the Mets 3 to 1 win

against the Milwaukee Brewers. After allowing a run and putting the tying runner on base, Francisco retired the last two Brewers for his ninth save of the season. 

In sticking with his closer, and speaking of the bullpen in general, Collins said, “I don’t want to do is turn our bullpen inside out even though we’ve had a few blown saves. Everybody has. The minute you start changing everybody’s roles, it’s very uncomfortable for some of the pitchers in that bullpen.” 

In splitting the two game series against the Brewers this week, highlighted by seven shutout innings by 41-year-old Miguel Batista in the Mets victory on Monday, the Mets ended play on Tuesday with a record of 20 and 16, having won 7 out of their last 10 games, in third place, 2 1/2 games behind division leading Atlanta. Despite losing two of three to Miami this past weekend, the Mets have played exceptionally well against their Eastern Division counterparts with a 14-7 record within the division.