Dwight Gooden

New York Mets pitcher Chris Flexen is about to do something Tom Seaver did; Nolan Ryan did; Dwight Gooden did; Jacob deGrom did.

Flexen, who arrived at Petco Park in San Diego (by way of Binghamton), will make his major league debut against the Padres.

“I don’t think it will be too difficult,” Flexen told the New York media. “The hardest thing is to manage the emotions. Like he [Terry Collins] said, ‘Whatever got me here, stick with it.’ That’s been being confident, attacking guys and that’s what I am going to go out and do. Just stick to the game plan.”

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One glance at the New York Mets No. 1 draft selections reveals a history of good, bad and ugly decision-making.

The Mets first-ever draft pick was pitcher Les Rohr, the second overall pick in the 1965 draft. Rohr’s major league career was short-lived. He made his MLB debut on September 19, 1967against the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching six innings, allowing three runs and recording his first win. Rohr made six appearances over three years before he retired after the 1969 season due to injuries. He was just 24 years old.

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Dwight Gooden arrived at the Houston Astrodome long before his scheduled start — so early that he had to jump a fence to get into the ballpark. That’s what happens when you’re a teenager (19) on the day of your MLB debut.

Gooden wasn’t the only one excited about his first start. Davey Johnson was anxious too. From the first time he laid eyes on Gooden, at age 17 in Kingsport, Johnson was struck by his control and poise.

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The New York Mets finished the 1989 season in second place. Six weeks into the 1990 season Davey Johnson was fired. He won 1,012 games as manager of the Mets, one World Series and two division titles. Johnson’s teams won an average of 95 games from 1984-1990. But, amidst all those wins, history defines the Mets as a disappointment.

As it turns out, 1986 was not the rule, but the exception for the Mets; 108 regular season wins followed by the epic 16-inning win over the Houston Astros in Game Six of the National League Championship Series and, ultimately, a World Series title (with a supporting cast of Bill Buckner and the baseball Gods). The Mets extreme success had fans and media talking about the “D” word.

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New York Mets president Al Harazin was less than two years removed from watching a ball roll through Bill Buckner’s legs; he didn’t need to be reminded just how fragile a post-season lead is. The Mets trailed by two runs and were reduced to a skinny strike on that fateful October night at Shea Stadium in 1986. No reminiscing necessary. The celebration of that World Series title season of 1986, lingered for days, weeks, months and years after.

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