Reese Kaplan -- Mets All Star Game Contributions


As we move into the annual mid-summer break for the All Star Game it calls to mind previous contests in which ballplayers from the Mets contributed in significant ways.  Why Willie Mays was named MVP of the 1963 and 1968 games while playing for the Giants, George Foster in 1976 while a member of the Reds, Gary Carter twice in 1981 and 1984 as the face of the Montreal Expos, Julio Franco in 1990 while manning 2B for the Texas Rangers, in 1998 Mike Piazza earned it slugging as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Pedro Martinez grabbed the honors in 1999 during his Cy Young season with the Boston Red Sox and none other than Robinson Cano got the trophy for the Mariners in 2017.  Needless to say, the Mets obtained these players after their MVP days were behind them.  Some things never change.

This year the Mets have three representatives on the team, any of whom could have the potential to deliver memorable moments.  Jacob deGrom is there for the third time, Jeff McNeil and rookie Pete Alonso are making their first of what should be multiple appearances over the next several years.  

The Mets did indeed once have a player earn MVP honors in the All Star Game.  Surely it must have been Tom Seaver or Doc Gooden or Darryl Strawberry or David Wright, right? 

In fact, in 1975 it was Tom Seaver who was brought into the game in the 6th inning in relief of then Pirate starter Jerry Reuss and Dodger starter Don Sutton.  He entered the game with the National League ahead by a 3-0 score.  As great as Seaver was throughout his career, this was simply not his day.  He promptly surrendered a hit and walk to bring the tying run to the plate.  AL Manager Alvin Dark tapped Boston Red Sox future Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski to pinch hit.  As stated, it was an uncharacteristically poor performance from Seaver who then served up a gopher ball that Yaz deposited deep into right center field for a game-tying 3-run homer, resulting in a blown save for the Mets ace.

NL Manager Walt Alston then turned to another Met hurler, Jon Matlack, to relieve Seaver.  The Pennsylvania native held the best of the AL at bay for the next two innings, allowing two harmless hits while striking out four during his work in the 7th and 8th innings.  He was the pitcher of record when the NL rallied in the top of the 9th for 3 runs to go up by a score of 6-3 in a game that was saved in the bottom of the 9th with a three-up/three-down performance by future Met Randy Jones, then of the San Diego Padres.  By hurling two scoreless innings and earning the win, Matlack was awarded the MVP trophy for the NL All Star victory. 

As closely as I followed the Mets, that particular season did not stick out in my mind as much as the one in which another representative was robbed of his rightful piece of mantle hardware.  In 1979 the Mets send outfielder Lee Mazzilli to represent the team at the midsummer classic.  Maz was enjoying his finest big league season en route to a .303/15/79 with 34 SBs and a .395 OBP.  He was joined by teammate John Stearns on that club, though others who had or would eventually don orange and blue who played in that game included Keith Hernandez, Gary Carter, Dave Kingman, Garry Templeton and Nolan Ryan.

This back and forth nailbiter had cannon-armed Pirates right fielder Dave Parker nail not one but two baserunners trying to advance.  Still, the NL was trailing 6-5 in the 8th inning when Mazzilli was sent up as a pinch hitter and delivered a solo home run to tie the game.  It was deadlocked at 6-6 in the 9th when Maz’ turn in the order came up again, this time with the bases loaded and facing NY Yankee ace Ron Guidry.  Like Seaver a few years prior, this was not the night for NY starting pitchers.  Mazzilli managed to work out a walk against Guidry, forcing the go-ahead (and eventual winning) run across the plate.  Bruce Sutter worked a second inning of relief, tap dancing around trouble and got the victory.

So, if you were the MVP judges and you had two defensive gems from Dave Parker or Lee Mazilli delivering both the game tying and game winning RBIs, who would you choose?  It’s a tough call, but likely the only time in the All Star Game when defense triumphed over offense or pitching when it came to handing out the honors. 


Tom Brennan said...

Amazing we have 3 MVPs - and have gone 31-46 over the last 75 games. Amazing.

Robbie Cano, Why Don't You Go?

Reese Kaplan said...

3 MVPs? Most Visibly Poor?

Tom Brennan said...

You can already see that after three 800 mile driving trips over the past week, I have car lag and need COFFEE. MVP? Maybe some day. Meant All Star.

Speaking of MVP, I was listening for a few minutes to the FAN this AM, and Yankee talk was underway. The two talk show folks both felt DJ Lemahieu (however you spell his name) was the first half AL MVP. Meanwhile, we chose to sigh Jed Lowrie for similar bucks. I hear nothing about him starting a rehab stint - do you?

At bats YTD: ZERO.

SOME SAY IT IS BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN GOOD. Sadly, the Mets are neither.

Reese Kaplan said...

What I had heard is that he's not even cleared for baseball activities.

Reese Kaplan said...

Oh, and I hate to be put into the odd position of defending BVW, but DJ has always been primarily a 2nd baseman. Ditto Cano. Lowrie had a bit more positional versatility (and superior offensive numbers last year), so making that move of JL over DJL was understandable if silly, given you already had Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil in the fold.

Tom Brennan said...

And JD Davis in the fold who, while unproven, had just won the AAA batting title, making adding Cano that much sillier.

Craig Kimbrel has had a few rocky moments - is it rust, or slippage? All I know is the Mets need relief help, and it is good to see Justin Wilson step up.

Mack's Mets © 2012