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Mets of the 2000s: 50-41

Welcome to the sixth chapter of Faith and Fear’s historical countdown of the The Top 100 Mets of the 2000s. A full introduction to what we’re doing is available here [1]. These are the more or less best Mets we rooted for as Mets fans during the decade FAFIF came to be. In honor of the 16th anniversary of our February 16, 2005, founding, we thought it would be fun (or at least not too painful) to revisit these guys and recall a little something about them.


50. MELVIN MORA, 2000
Also a Met in 1999
49. MIKE BORDICK, 2000
48. REY ORDOÑEZ, 2000-2002
Also a Met from 1996-1999
What had six legs, three gloves and rarely quite as much stick as you’d prefer? The shortstop position for the 2000 National League champion New York Mets. When the baseball decade began on the other side of the world, Rey Ordoñez was riding a 100-game errorless streak from 1999. He went one more game in Japan before committing a fielding faux pas, perhaps a sign of things to come for a 2000 that never got untracked in North America. In late May, the three-time Gold Glover was knocked out for the season with a broken arm. Rey’d be back for the two seasons that followed, but in the meantime, the Mets tentatively placed their World Series aspirations in the mitts of supersub Melvin Mora. Melvin could play many positions — and hit — but shortstop became a bit of an adventure. Too nervous to let 1999’s postseason comet [3] settle in to handle routine grounders (and stymied in their quest to acquire Cincinnati’s Barry Larkin), the front office traded Mora to Baltimore for Mike Bordick, a presumed sure thing coming off his first All-Star selection. Mike started at Shea with a bang, homering in his initial Met at-bat, and was steady enough at short, but the veteran sputtered as the season morphed into the postseason. Worse for him and his team, Bordick played with a broken hand in the 2000 World Series after having it fractured by a pitch from Cardinal reliever Mike James in the first game of the NLCS. In the ninth inning of the last game of the Fall Classic, the Mets shortstop was none of the above. Instead, Bobby Valentine turned to reserve Kurt Abbott, who did not get to the final fair ball hit by a Yankee, Luis Sojo’s decisive proverbial 38-hopper, the one that broke a 2-2 tie and millions of Mets fans’ hearts.

47. CHRIS WOODWARD, 2005-2006
Hey baby, who’s your handyman? With apologies to Jimmy Jones [4] and James Taylor [5], each of whom went to No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 by assuming the identity of a fella who could do it all, Mets fans in the middle of the 2000s understood the role to be assumed by Chris Woodward. Wearing No. 4 all over the diamond for New York after parts of six seasons patrolling the infield in Toronto, Woody took a shine to his new surroundings in 2005, expanding his versatile portfolio to include the outfield. In his second career game in left — the same day Pedro Martinez made his home debut and Al Leiter his Shea return, all in front of a sellout crowd — Chris leapt to rob Luis Castillo in the eighth inning; turned the unlikely catch into a 7-4-3 DP; and set the stage for that afternoon’s dramatic Met walkoff triumph. Woodward’s at-bats were inevitably accompanied by Dire Straits’ “Sultans of Swing,” which proved appropriate, as three times in two Met campaigns Chris swung and reigned with the game-ending RBI.

46. MARLON ANDERSON, 2005; 2007-2009
One wouldn’t wish to burst the bubble of any of the other Mets who’ve turned the trick, but no hitter/runner ever generated inside-the-park home run excitement the way Marlon Anderson did on Saturday night, June 11, 2005. First, Marlon was coming off the bench cold, though he generally didn’t mind that circumstance, as he’d produce 18 pinch-hits in ’05. Second, it was the ninth inning, the Mets trailed by a run, there was one out, nobody was on, and he was facing one of the premier closers in baseball, young fireballing Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels; he’d seen K-Rod only once before, striking out in 2003. Third, when Anderson made contact, sending a ball to right-center field at Shea Stadium, the fielders converging were five-time Gold Glover Steve Finley and future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, strongly implying somebody was bound to catch it. Except the Gold Glove center fielder kicked the ball and it got by the future Hall of Famer in right, and humble Marlon Anderson motored like he’d never motored before and, to give us a fourth reason this was about to become the most exciting inside-the-park home run in New York Mets history, he was blowing a bubble as he ran. Who does that? Anderson, apparently. The PHITPHR bubble never burst, as Marlon slid ahead of the tag from Los Angeles of Anaheim catcher Jose Molina to tie a game the Mets would go on to win in eleven.

45. RICK WHITE, 2000-2001
Even the sturdiest bullpens can use a little reinforcement along the 162-game journey toward October. With the Mets harboring postseason aspirations, they realized one extra arm could make an enormous difference, specifically the right arm belonging to Rick White. The erstwhile Devil Ray arrived ahead of the July 31 trade deadline and got right to work, notching a win in his first appearance and pitching twenty times in his new uniform en route to the playoffs. Once Rick got to October, Bobby Valentine relied on him in the biggest of spots, the twelfth and thirteenth innings of pivotal NLDS Game Three versus the Giants. White threw two scoreless frames, keeping the score knotted at two, long enough for Benny Agbayani to step up and let the dogs out.

44. BRADEN LOOPER, 2004-2005
Whatever there was to save in 2004, Braden Looper saved most of it. The ex-Marlin stepped up as Met closer, preserving wins 29 times for a club that was victorious in only 71 attempts. His longest outing of the year didn’t involve a save, but it might have been his most impressive: three innings at San Francisco that positioned the Mets to hang on and eventually beat the Giants, 11-9, in twelve. Looper threw two ground ball double plays on a day when just looking at Barry Bonds seemed to put runs on the board for the home team. Braden added 28 saves for an improved Mets team in 2005, though wasn’t quite as effective, pitching with an inflamed right shoulder (and not mentioning it publicly) for most of six months.

43. MIKE PELFREY, 2006-2009
Also a Met from 2010-2012; No. 38 Met of the 2010s
The arsenal belonging to the tall righty from Wichita State University proved a bit of a shocker when it turned out to not include a fastball whose hardness matched its progenitor’s height, but 6’-7” Mike Pelfrey had others ways to get batters out. The Mets trusted their top draft choice from 2005 would tower over hitters as soon as he got the chance. Pelfrey didn’t disappoint in his major league debut, five innings of three-run ball over the Marlins on July 8, 2006, with the Mets plating seventeen runs on his behalf. Big Pelf, as he was inevitably called, began to put it together in earnest in September of 2007 winning three decisions before the walls fell in on the Mets’ divisional lead. Mike established himself to stay in 2008, starting 32 games and winning thirteen of them. When Shea Stadium gave way to Citi Field, it was Mike Pelfrey who threw the new ballpark’s first regulation pitch, a called strike to Padres center fielder Jody Gerut. Alas, the park’s third pitch was socked by Gerut for Citi’s first homer, but Pelf dug in and kept firing for the Mets through 2012 and in the majors until 2017. He has since returned to Wichita State, coaching the next crop of Shocker hurlers, tall, short and otherwise.

In the course of three batters, Desi Relaford turned himself into a Met folk hero. It was the ninth inning at Shea, with San Diego in town. Relaford struck out Jose Nuñez swinging and then elicited fly balls to center out of Bubba Trammell and Adam Riggs. What a cause for celebration it was. Was a division clinched? A Wild Card grabbed? Ground gained in a hot pennant chase? No, the Mets were losing by a dozen runs and would lose by a dozen runs, but Mets fans could forget for the moment what a miserable May night their lads were experiencing because Desi Relaford looked great coming out of the bullpen, getting his fastball up into the 90s when he did. Desi, you see, was an infielder. He’d never pitched in the majors before and he never would again. Given the state of the Mets bullpen as 2001 wore on, perhaps he should have.

41. MOISES ALOU, 2007-2008
When he stayed in one piece in his eighteenth and nineteenth major league seasons, Moises Alou was a Met sight to behold, particularly during one scalding thirty-game stretch. Indeed, when the veteran whose approach and production inspired invocation of the phrase “professional hitter” managed to remain upright, it was opposing pitchers who felt pain. From August 23 to September 26 in 2007, Moises got at least one base hit in each of the thirty games that he took an official at-bat (in the one game he played in that span when he didn’t, he pinch-walked, keeping his streak alive). The numbers Alou etched were staggering: 48 hits, a .403 batting average and a 1.034 OPS. The digits read as exponentially more impressive when one factors in the Mets’ immersion in a divisional derby with the Phillies, a tango they didn’t think was on their dance card when New York held a seven-game lead with seventeen to play on September 12…but never mind what was happening to the team. Appreciate that a 41-year-old pro’s pro who’d missed more than two months with a quad injury rose above the Met morass, pounding hit after hit game after game with the season increasingly on the line. Alou’s hitting streak grew into the longest in Mets history, a status it maintains to this day.