I am spending Memorial Day Weekend in New York with my Dad.
We along with 28,743 other people are now the proud owners of a Rusty Staub Bobblehead. The New York Mets were giving them away before today’s game against the San Diego Padres. Amazingly, the Mets didn’t have Staub throw out the first pitch or have some kind of on field ceremony for him. Instead, Le Grande Orange made a cameo appearance in the stands shaking hands with a member of the Royal Canadian Navy who could not correctly identify the season Staub became the first Met to drive in 100 or more runs in season. Staub had 105 RBI for the Mets in 1975. I am amazed that it took 15 years for a Met to drive in 100 runs in a season. I am also amazed that he held the team record for 15 years until it was broken by Darryl Strawberry who knocked in 108 runs in 1990. Mike Piazza and David Wright have the Mets team record with 124 RBI in 1999 and 2008, respectively.
Speaking of Wright, he was hitting .397 going into the game. Padres starter Clayton Richard wanted no part of Wright and essentially gave him an unintentional, intentional walk in the first inning. Up came Scott Hairston. I turned to Dad and said, “His number don’t show it but this guy has pop in his bat.” A few moments later, Hairston hit a three run homerun to give the Mets a 3-0 lead. Hairston isn’t a superstar but almost every time I see him play he goes deep.
I had never heard of Vinny Rottino until today. In fact, I said to Dad, “I’d like some rottino for dinner tonight.” Well, I’m sure somebody is buying Rottino dinner tonight because he hit his first big league homerun in the first to give the Mets a 4-0 lead.
The Mets didn’t score again until the 8th when Ike Davis had a pinch hit RBI double and back up catcher Mike Nickeas belted a grandslam homerun to give the Mets a 9-0 lead. It was the light hitting Nickeas’ second big league homerun.
But the star of the show was Johan Santana who tossed a complete game four-hit shutout. It was his first shutout since 2010. Santana missed the entire 2011 season due to shoulder surgery. Today, Santana made a very strong case that he has returned to Cy Young form. Santana threw 96 pitches, 74 of them for strikes. Very, very impressive. The only question is if he can sustain this over an entire season.
CitiField is an improvement over Shea Stadium. While the new Yankee Stadium is more architecturally impressive, I’d rather watch a game in Queens than in the Bronx. It also makes for a quicker day. The game lasted 2 hours and 18 minutes. At Yankee Stadium, 2 hours and 18 minutes gets you into the fifth inning with no Rusty Staub Bobbleheads in sight.