What's Happening in Flushing?

ALSO: RECALLING THE EXPANSION WASHINGTON SENATORS

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Readers React

Great [Milo] article! You are so right that Dad would have loved the Sox-Yankees game at the Field of Dreams. Many friends & relatives reached out to me after that game saying the same thing: that Dad would have loved that game and would have loved calling  it.

—Mark (Muggs) Hamilton, Atlanta, GA

Muggs Hamilton is the son of the late Milo Hamilton.

* * * * *

Loved the piece that was written on the Cubs and especially the guy who called out [Jake] Arrieta for being a piece of crap in dealing with the COVID situation. Right on!

Also your piece on Milo brought back many memories of working with him over the years and especially working with you on the book, Making Airwaves.  Seeing that picture of him with his son brought a tear to my eyes as well.  I miss those dinners we had with Milo.

—Bob Ibach, Chicago

Former Cubs publicist Bob Ibach also contributed to the Milo Hamilton book.


Pregame Pepper

Did You Know?

Jake Arrieta pitched as poorly in his Padres debut as he did for the Cubs all season . . .

Attendance was a putrid 6,079 in Miami Tuesday for the red-hot Braves v Marlins . . .

Atlanta’s 10-game road winning streak is best in baseball this year . . .

The Mets are retiring Jerry Koosman’s No. 36 on Aug. 28 . . .

The Dodgers paid Cole Hamels a guaranteed $1 million for not throwing a pitch . . .

The wife of new Mets reliever Jake Reed played softball for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics . . .

The Mets will be paying off Bobby Bonilla’s contract at $1,193,248 per year until 2035, when the former slugger is 72 . . .

MVP contender Fernando Tatis could become the first man to lead his league in home runs and stolen bases since Chuck Klein of the Phillies hit 38 homers and stole 20 bases in 1932 . . .

Tatis has more homers than any player in history aged 22 or younger.

Leading Off

What is Going on in Flushing?

By Ray Kuhn

Was it all just a Grand Illusion? Were you in fact just Fooling Yourself?

No, I’m not just going to continue listing all of the songs from Styx’s 1977 prog rock album entitled Grand Illusion but there have been many occasions as of late where you wish you could just Sail Away instead of dealing with what is taking place in Flushing on a daily basis. 

And now I am done. Don’t worry there is nothing wrong with your email, this is still a baseball newsletter and regardless of how much we may enjoy the aforementioned album, we can’t waste any time as we are trying to unpack what is going on with the New York Mets. 

The Mets always have high expectations entering a season and this year was no different. In fact, maybe even more so based on what appeared to be a stacked lineup and starting rotation that was augmented by the additions of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco this winter. 

Perhaps the biggest move or change that took place within the organization was off the field, though, as Mets fans were finally free from the Wilpon family and Steven Cohen was going to ride into town with his billions (no we aren’t going to start making TV show references now but the opportunity is there) and take the team into the 21st century. 

Instead, Carrasco injured a hamstring early in Spring Training, the Mets were still without Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John surgery, but thanks to all of their other depth acquisitions over the winter — remember there was a different regime in town — things still looked good heading into the season. 

The omission of the Jared Porter debacle was on purpose as there is nothing good we can say about that, but it didn’t impact anything else that went on with the team in the off-season; at least not that we know about. 

So, putting that self-inflicted mess behind us, New York was all set to open the season against Washington. And then the circus started. Due to no fault of their own, the entire first series of the year was postponed due to Covid on Washington’s end (so really no one’s fault) and the caravan of doubleheaders began. 

To say that it wasn’t an idea scenario would be an understatement as the Mets were put at a substantial disadvantage. Trying to find pitching became incredibly problematic and injuries to depth options such as Joey Lucchesi and Jordan Yamamoto were quickly felt as New York had to struggle to find pitchers. At the same time, the sheer overwhelming quantity of games stretched the bullpen to the max and it would only be a matter of time before it cracked. 

At no point prior to the season did anyone expect to see Tylor Megill become both a regular, and dependable, piece of the starting rotation but that is the least of any problems. 

Every five days, it seemed like history was possible. Whenever Jacob deGrom took the mound earlier this season it was very easy to daydream and visualize the game ending in a no-hitter, but the right-hander simply couldn’t stay healthy. After exiting multiple starts early and skipping some starts all together, deGrom found himself placed permanently on the Injured List with it looking more and more likely that he won’t be returning in 2021. 

Perhaps the Mets would have been able to get past all of their pitching issues but the injuries were even potentially more vast on the offensive side. Couple that with a general lack of performance from the majority of New York’s bats, and things were simply a mess on the field for the Mets on a nightly basis. 

It is for that reason that, entering action on Friday, the Mets have already used 61 different players this season. But with all of that being said, they have spent 90 days in first place so far this season. 

So that brings the obvious question as to how did they do it?

Scrapping through all of their doubleheaders while dealing with injuries and over- taxed pitching staff, and an offense that truly struggled to perform, the Mets still managed to win enough to stay atop the NL East. 

A large part of the credit for that goes to the under-achieving done by Philadelphia and Atlanta, but with both teams beginning to find their groove, things are becoming more realistic for the Mets. The talent on offense is there, and with Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez expected to return in the next week or so, perhaps there will be a spark, but things aren’t looking optimistic. 

With Cohen sending a tweet out Wednesday morning essentially putting the offense on notice, it remains to be seen how the remaining six weeks of the season go and what we should expect heading into next season. 

As of now, it seems like it is the same old Mets all over again, so the hope is that this can just be chalked up to a learning experience and there is now a year’s worth of data to work off.  

What is clear is that things really do need to change.

Of course, if Lindor and Baez spark the Mets and impending free agent Michael Conforto finds a groove, perhaps the Mets still have time to make a run at the division. And then the season will be looked at quite differently under an NL East championship. 

Ray Kuhn can be found writing on Fantasy Alarm and podcasting at Friends With Fantasy Benefits after previously covering the Houston Astros as part of the FanSided network at Climbing Tal’s Hill. Reach him at @ray_kuhn_28 or raykuhn57@gmail.com as he is always interested in talking or writing about our great game. 

Cleaning Up

Russ White Names Best Of Expansion Senators

By Bob Ibach

My longtime friend and one of baseball's BEST sportswriters, Russ White, covered many of the Senators games in the 1960s when I was an usher at RFK Stadium and later a sportswriter at the beginning of my career after graduating from U. of Maryland.

Russ put together this list of the BEST players who were on Senators' rosters during that period and I wanted to put them out there for those who followed the franchise during that period.

Here goes:

His 25 selections for a "most competitive" Washington Senators team from the expansion years begin with Frank Howard and Eddie Brinkman.

Starting Pitchers: Dick Bosman, Claude Osteen Joe Coleman, Pete Richert, Bennie Daniels, Dick Donovan and Tom Cheney.

Spot starter and long relief: Casey Cox.

Closers: Darold Knowles and Ron Kline. And Dave Baldwin.

Catchers: Paul Casanova and Gene Green.

Infielders: Mike Epstein, David Nelson, Ed Brinkman, Ken McMullen, Aurelio Rodríguez and Toby Harrah.

Outfielders: Frank Howard, Chuck Hinton, Del Unser, Fred Valentine, Don Lock and Jim King.

Standby: pitchers Mike McCormick, Camilo Pascual, Jim Hannan, Dick Lines, Barry Moore; catcher Jim French; utilitymen Bernie Allen, Tim Cullen and Hank Allen.

Ted Williams (center) won American League Manager of the Year honors for his work with the second-edition Washington Senators in 1969.

In 11 seasons, the expansion Senators had one winning season: Ted Williams’ 1969 team, whose most significant change was Casey Cox being reinstated.

Demoted by Jim Lemon in 1968, Cox pitched in 52 games, starting 13 times, winning 12 with a 2.78 ERA for Williams.

Had the 25 players on this (11-year) Washington played together, there could have been a half- dozen winning seasons. Had Gil Hodges managed the 1968 Senators, that team would have been as tough as the 1969 team.

The expansion Senators’ front office had little vision or focus. Ownership had limited funds. Brinkman and Coleman were their best free agent signings.

That Daniels was the only black pitcher to start a game in 11 seasons indicates serious front- office issues.

Fact: Daniels was the only African American to start a game for the original or expansion Senators.

Ah, the Senators. First in war, first in peace, and LAST in the American League. The memories they made last forever!

Though he now lives in Illinois, Bob Ibach grew up in the DC area, in nearby Rockville, MD, from 1957-1971, and was a Washington Senators usher while attending the University of Maryland in the 1960s. He began his career at the Washington Post, and still has his first Senators press passes from the 1970 and 1971 seasons, before going to the Baltimore Evening Sun. He saw a LOT of those Senators losses first- hand — and was covering the final Senators game when it was forfeited to the Yankees in the ninth inning after fans stormed the field, dug up the pitching rubber, stole the bases (literally) and tried to take up home plate (which was saved) before the umps called the game. Just when it seemed the Nats had lost in every way possible, a forfeit happened in their final game at RFK Stadium.

Timeless Trivia (from the Field of Dreams Game)

Thanks to the MLB game, the Field of Dreams site expects 200,000 visitors this year . . .

The clock atop the scoreboard didn’t work because there was no electricity in the cornfield . . .

The backstop and bullpen seats, plus other pieces, in the new Field of Dreams stadium were first used in the 2019 London Series . . .

The barn on the nearby film site dates back to 1860 . . .

It is still an active farm, growing soybeans plus corn; it was purchased by Joe and Catherine Lansing in 1906 . . .

MLB spent $5 million to build a ballpark with major-league dimensions . . .

Wooden signs had arrows pointing toward Yankee Stadium (997 mi), Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field (206 mi), and Dyersville Town Center (very close) . . .

A corn maze was constructed just outside the outfield walls; a path connects the two fields . . .

Yankees pilot Aaron Boone experienced one-shot games in London and Iowa as a manager and Fort Bragg 2016 and Williamsport, PA as a broadcaster.


Know Your Editors

HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [bchrom831@gmail.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [nymfan97@gmail.com] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [ballauthor@gmail.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.

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