Gary Cohen, SNY.tv
Here's a Q&A with SNY play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen with his thoughts on a universal DH, MLB players potentially sitting out this season, the 1986 Mets and more...
1. It seems more likely that there will be a universal DH this season. How do you envision the Mets taking advantage of a DH?
As much as it pains me to see any encroachment of the DH into the National League, the current truth for the Mets is that they are uniquely poised to take advantage, should this become a reality this season.
The Mets have multiple options for using the DH to their advantage, starting with Yoenis Cespedes. Watching Cespedes this spring, it was clear that Yo's bat was still an asset. The question was whether he could hold up to the rigors of playing the field. With the DH, that would no longer be an issue.
And the beauty of it for the Mets, is that Cespedes is hardly their only DH option. J.D. Davis, Dom Smith and Robinson Cano all profile as possible candidates in a DH rotation.
So for 2020, the Mets would be all-in on the universal DH. Let's just hope it's not a precursor for the future.
2. Friday is the anniversary of Jacob deGrom's major-league debut, which you discussed during Beyond the Booth Live. Which pitcher whose major-league debut you watched was the most impressive and led you to believe he could be a star?
This is an easy one. I'm not sure that any Met has ever made a better first impression than Matt Harvey did in his debut, July 26, 2012 in Arizona.
Unlike Jacob deGrom, Matt's debut had been highly anticipated, from the day two years earlier when the Mets had selected him in the first round out of the University of North Carolina. But I don't think anyone was prepared for the utter dominance Harvey displayed in that first outing.
His first batter in the big leagues, Gerardo Parra: strikeout. He finished the first inning with Paul Goldschmidt: strikeout. He started the second inning with Justin Upton: strikeout.
And he just kept rolling, never better than in the third inning, when he struck out Goldschmidt again, this time with runners at second and third.
Matt finished his debut with five and a third scoreless innings, allowed three hits, striking out 11, the most ever for a Met in his debut. It was the start of a meteoric rise that began Harvey's star-crossed Mets career.
3. An agent told SNY's Andy Martino there's "no question" that some players will want to sit out this season. Do you see this being a trend during the coronavirus crisis?
If we have a Major League Baseball season this year, it will be unlike any other in virtually every respect. And this is simply one of the ways.
Put aside the financial disagreements. Right now we live in a world where any interaction with another person brings at least some risk of illness, and potentially death. While ballplayers in their 20s and 30s are often described as feeling invincible, the reality is somewhat different.
While I am sure the vast majority of players will opt in, if and when the season gets going, it will be with various levels of trepidation, which will be true for people in all walks of life.
4. Pete Alonso told a story during The Cookie Club about how Mercury coming out of retrograde helped him get out of a slump. What's the weirdest player superstition that you remember learning about?
I don't know if you would call it a superstition or simply an oddity, but I was always flabbergasted by the way Rey Ordonez, a three-time Gold Glove shortstop for the Mets in the '90s, handled his gloves.
Most fielders, when they are considering using a new glove, spend hours, days and weeks getting it into game shape. Some use water, some shaving cream. Some put it in the microwave, some tie it up with a ball and put it under their mattress. The idea is to soften the leather, to make it mote flexible for use in the game.
Some players go years without changing gloves, because it is such a painstaking process to get the new glove feeling game-ready. Ron Darling tells the story of his one-time teammate, longtime shortstop Walt Weiss who used a glove so flattened and ratty, it was referred to as The Thing.
Ordonez was just the opposite. He would use a new glove every few weeks. He would take it out of the box, check the fit, and bring it right into the game. No breaking it in, nothing. Can you imagine how strong your hands have to be to do that? But Rey was a magician with any glove, even fresh out of the box.
5. With SNY airing the 1986 NLCS this week and the World Series next week, what do you think are the most underrated moments of each series?
As I mentioned last week during Beyond the Booth, I think even though Game 6 against the Astros is remembered for its drama, stretching through the 16th inning, the comeback in the ninth tends to get underplayed. I mean, the Mets were dead offensively through the first eight innings against Bob Knepper - no runs, two hits, and no legitimate scoring chances.
Down 3-0 going to the ninth, knowing that Mike Scott, who had been unhittable in his first two starts in the series was looming in a potential Game Seven, the Mets looked doomed. But Lenny Dykstra's fly ball triple that eluded the Astros' sub-standard center fielder Billy Hatcher got them going, and Mets rallied to tie the game, and set the stage for the drama that followed.
As for the World Series, I'll go back to Dykstra. The Mets lost the first two games of the series at home. Only one team before, the Kansas City Royals the previous season, had ever won the World Series after losing the first two on their home field.
In Game Three at Fenway Park, Dykstra immediately swung things around. On the third pitch of the game from Oil Can Boyd, Lenny smacked a home run past the Pesky Pole, sparking a four-run first inning, and getting the Mets right back in the series.
Watch Gary, Keith and Ron during Beyond the Booth Live, every Thursday at 4 p.m. Check out our most recent episode below: