Just Hustle, Baby: Forgettable Arizona, New York Teams Could Get a Clue from the Miracle Mets
Forty years and one day ago, Cleon Jones was baseball's ultimate goat, but he -- and the Mets -- turned the negative into something Amazin'.
The 2009 New York Mets are more or less an afterthought. Despite their humongous payroll -- second only to the ever-profligate crosstown Yanks -- and the presence of contemporary rock-star athletes such as Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Gary Sheffield, the underachievers have been overshadowed all year by the memory, 40 years gone, of that overachieving crew called Amazin'.
Seaver. Ryan. Koosman. McGraw. Grote. Agee. Clendenon. Harrelson. Kranepool. Swoboda. For folks of a certain vintage, those names'll transport you.
That's what winning does, especially the kind the Miracle Mets engineered, with few outright superstars and zero gazillionaires. The destinies of most of today's teams -- including the Mets and our own artless '09 Diamondbacks -- are to leave the future unmoved.
Francoeur. Pagan. Reed. Cora. Castillo. Schneider.
Young. Reynolds. Parra. Drew. Whitesell. Snyder.
Corollary thought: Who cares?
Given the insidious blanding of the game over the last couple of decades, modern teams' only recourse for posterity is to win big. Barring that, at least give us effort. Give us life. Give us hope. Give us something to remember you by, or we'll forget you in no time flat.
Give us the kind of guts it took for Gil Hodges, skipper of the Miracle Mets, to amble languidly, unhurriedly, as if he were searching for shells on a beach, from the dugout to the outfield to personally pull his underperforming left fielder Cleon Jones off the field in a game on July 30, '69, against the Houston Astros. Jones never failed to hustle like a crazy dude thereafter, finishing the season with a .340 average and helping to lead the Mets past the all-powerful Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
Can you see A.J. Hinch trying something like that with Justin Upton?
Don't you wish he would sometimes?
Damn, those were the days.
The Mets and D-Backs, both under .500 and playing their own special brands of idiot ball for most of the season, meet today through Monday at Citi Field in Queens. Here are the available pitching match-ups at presstime:
Today, 4:10 p.m.: Doug Davis (5-10, 3.76 ERA) vs. Livan Hernandez (7-5, 4.87).
Saturday, 4:10 p.m.: TBD vs. Oliver Perez (2-3, 7.42).
Sunday, 10:10 a.m.: Jon Garland (5-10, 4.42) vs. Mike Pelfrey (8-6, 4.72).
Monday, 4:10 p.m.: Dan Haren (10-6, 2.19) vs. TBD.
TV: Fox Sports Arizona. Radio: KTAR-AM 620, KSUN-AM 1400 (Spanish). More info: www.dbacks.com.
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