Perhaps you remember Carlos Beltran's introductory press conference in which he declared that the heretofore bedraggled, woebegone organization he'd signed with was no more, that these fellows with whom he'd thrown in his lot for lots of money were instead the New Mets.
That was January 11, 2005. On May 30, 2009, Beltran didn't make any big public statements, but by his exit from Saturday's game, he could have been saying we were looking at the even Newer Mets.
Once Beltran left the game with a stomach virus as the top of the sixth commenced Saturday, there wasn't a single Met on the field who was a member of the 2005 renaissance men or the 2006 National League East champs. In fact, with 2007 acquisition Luis Castillo having pinch-hit in the fifth only to sit down thereafter, there would be, for the remainder of the day, no player in a Mets uniform on the field who had been a Met before 2008. Brian Schneider, technically the most recently activated Met on the roster, was the most heavily tenured Met of anyone who played from the sixth through ninth innings.
C Brian Schneider: March 31, 2008
CF Angel Pagan: March 31, 2008
3B Fernando Tatis: May 13, 2008
1B Daniel Murphy: August 2, 2008
P Brian Stokes: August 9, 2008
2B Ramon Martinez: September 7, 2008
LF Jeremy Reed: April 6, 2009
PH Omir Santos: April 21, 2009
P Ken Takahashi: May 2, 2009
RF Fernando Martinez: May 26, 2009
SS Wilson Valdez: May 27, 2009
Wow, that was quick.
Extenuating circumstances, of course, explain how our good old Mets became Club Nouveau. Beltran was feeling icky. Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado are on the DL. Oliver Perez is experiencing yet another setback. Slumping David Wright was judged to require a rare blow (though he did make it as far as the on-deck circle in the ninth). There was no pressing lefty-lefty matchup with which to bother Pedro Feliciano. Mike Pelfrey pitched Friday. John Maine pitches Sunday. Ramon Castro catches for the Chicago White Sox.
I haven't checked with Elias or anybody like that, but there's no way we've had a lineup so lacking in core Mets of the recent past for even a fraction of a game since before the Age of David kicked in. There's always a Wright or a Beltran listed on the manager's card and, before this last road trip, there was usually a Reyes. Each of them plus Delgado played in no fewer than 159 games last year. (Reyes, Wright and Beltran all sat to start this memorable affair from May 17, 2007, but Delgado was in the whole way.) But just like that, for four not so solid innings, the team fielded eleven players who are, relatively speaking, Metsies come lately.
Not that there's anything wrong with that if they win. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that even if they lose, which is what they did behind starter and loser Tim Redding, an active Met for not quite two weeks. There is no magic inherent in having been a longtime Met per se. But it was strange to notice this kind of September lineup in late May, and by September, I mean the kind of Septembers the Mets endured before Carlos Beltran blessed us with his talent and signature in January '05.
For part of a day, life went on without all the Mets we've automatically identified as Mets for years. It just didn't go on very well.
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