The Mets having their top farm club where they do now puts me in mind of a very old joke that makes me laugh every time I think of it (no offense to any readers with roots or relatives there).
“I come from Buffalo.”
“Oh yeah? I come from normal parents.”
Saturday night Keith Hernandez mentioned his parents were married in Houston, at home plate of old Buff Stadium, home of the Houston Buffs, or Buffaloes. Keith's dad, the one we always heard was adjusting his swing for him as a Met by watching how much of his “17” he could see via satellite, was a Texas Leaguer in the 1940s.
Keith just throws stuff like that out there the way you or I might say, “You know, I stopped to tie my shoes today. And then I tied them so I wouldn't have to tie them again.” Keith's dad came up a topic of conversation in the days when Keith was becoming a legend in New York. He used to play ball, it was said; he had contacts in the game who told him not to leave the Mets after 1983, that they were loaded on the farm. But when Keith springs the details on you, it seems so mind-blowing, probably because nothing about Keith seems like a big deal to Keith.
So you might say Keith Hernandez comes from Buffalo — as have far too many 2009 Mets. But while Mex was revealing himself a little bit Tex, the latest Bison to stampede onto our team and into our hearts was creating his own legend…in Houston, no less.
Jonathon Niese is too young to have sepia-toned stories. He's 22, born, as Gary Cohen reminded us, on October 27, 1986 (as if we could forget the significance). His name comes up now and again as the prospect the Mets will need to trade to acquire whoever's hot and likely unattainable. You wouldn't hesitate to trade Jonathon Niese for Roy Halladay if the offer was actually made, but a Saturday night romp like that we just experienced you wouldn't be so quick to trade for anything.
When Met victories have become Honus Wagner T-206 rare, you sort of don't want to let them go for anything.
Niese the erstwhile Bison emerged a fully-grown Met and pitched seven brilliant innings. Murphy the accidental cleanup hitter (I assumed it was a typographical error) doubled twice — not just in the same week, but in the same game. The only ball Jeff Francoeur lost was one thrown by an Astro pitcher, not hit by an opposing batter. Omir Santos pushed his home run total (6) near his uniform number (9), which gave David Wright the impetus to become the first Met to actually outhomer the number on his shirt in 2009. It took 96 games, but No. 5 has 6 homers.
Even if he had to tie Omir Santos on July 25 to do it.
The Mets have been sad more often than silly this season. They continued to show their farcical ways by waiting until practically the last minute to clear room for Niese by disabling Gary Sheffield despite a) insisting all that ailed Sheff was a cramp from eight days prior and b) indicating Gary was on his way back to the lineup any minute now. Sheffield wasn't immediately happy with the decision. Who would be? But when you win 10-3, all the funhouse nonsense dissipates into joyful background noise.
Niese was a winner in the majors for the first time since Shea Stadium's pretzels were deemed precious cargo. Our hitters took advantage of the only outfield walls more inane than Citi Field's. And Keith Hernandez told a story about his dad who did what he had to do to be a Buff.
Well, yeah. He's Keith Hernandez.
Because you can never get enough Keith, get more Keith, in the form of Shea Good-Bye: The Untold Inside Story of the Historic 2008 Season, written with Matt Silverman, here.