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In a season full of disappointments, one of the few bright spots for the New York Mets has been the emergence of closer Bobby Parnell.
Parnell, who was named the team’s closer in spring training after Frank Francisco was diagnosed with a mild strain of the flexor pronator in his right elbow, has recorded six saves.
The Mets teams of 1969 and 1986 were especially Amazin’, of course, but what if you could create a club combining the best players from each era? Or from any era? Here are my picks for an all-time Mets dream team, to wrap up my 15-part anniversary tribute to Queens’ hometown heroes. Miss any entries? Just hit the Mets link on qchron.com, and you can catch them all, tracing the team’s history from its genesis in the mind of Bill Shea through the end of last season. Now on to October!
After the ever-so-close 1973 World Series, the Mets took a dive into fifth place in ’74. Although they improved a bit in the next two seasons, and individual players posted some records, the mid- and late-’70s were not kind to the Mets. One low point was June 15, 1977, when they traded away two of their best stars in what became known as the Midnight Massacre.
After the miracle of 1969, the Mets stayed strong but were knocked out of playoff contention by untimely slumps in 1970 and ’71, and injuries in 1972. The next year they roared back into the World Series, but lost in seven games to the Oakland A’s.
The eighth season changed it all. After averaging 105 losses in each of their first seven years, the New York Mets jumped from the bottom to the top of the baseball world in 1969, proving that every underdog has his day. Although there were some hints of the magic to come in the prior two years — namely the pitching of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman and the batting of Cleon Jones and Jerry Grote — the team’s 1969 explosion and World Series win in five games seemed to come out of nowhere.
As the late Tug McGraw said, ya gotta believe. Yes, if you are a Mets fan ya gotta believe that in 2012, the Mets will celebrate their 50th anniversary as members of the National League, and the first of their next 50 years right here in Queens.
This is a team that has made its indelible mark on our national pastime. It is a team that came into existence only because Walter O’Malley, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, and Horace Stoneham, the owner of the New York Giants, decided that there was more money to be made out in California
than in New York. It is a team that was created to fill the void left by the sudden and shocking departure of New York’s two National League teams. They were the brainchild of Bill Shea, the prominent New York attorney who spearheaded the committee created by Mayor Robert Wagner to bring a National League team back to New York. At the same time, they were owned at first by Joan Whitney Payson, a multi-millionaire who had been a part owner of the Giants and who had been the only board member to vote against the move to San Francisco.
The odds are that you collected baseball cards if you became a fan of the sport while you were in elementary school. Former Yankees pitcher and noted author Jim Bouton said in his book “Ball Four” that as a kid he wanted to become a ballplayer so that he could have his picture on a Topps baseball card. It’s that kind of immortality that appeals to both players and collectors. In the 1960s, when Bouton played, and when I was an avid card collector, Topps was the exclusive maker of baseball cards.
There’s nothing like a sports team to bring people together, and through good years and bad, the Mets have done just that. When you root for the home team here, there’s no question that it’s the Mets.
The 2002 NFL draft did not have the same glamour as past drafts for numerous reasons. For starters there was absolutely no mystery as to who the first pick would be since the expansion Houston Texans had announced that they had signed Fresno State QB David Carr four days before the draft was held at Madison Square Garden. Secondly the draft’s other name passer, Oregon’s Joey Harrington, opted to eschew the excitement of New York and stayed home in Portland.