The noise coming from the North is the sound of old – and new – Montreal Expos fans. On Saturday, about 1,000 baseball-hungry fans from Montreal were waving flags, drinking cold beverages and shouting from the outfield seats at Rogers Centre during the Tampa Bay Rays-Toronto Blue Jays game.
A pair of Chicago Cubs centerfielders, Jimmy Qualls (1969) and Joe Wallis (1975), stole two of Tom Seaver’s early bids for a no-hitter. One year after being traded from New York to Cincinnati, Seaver threw a no-hitter for the Reds. Nolan Ryan never pitched a no-hitter – as a New York Met – but after being traded to the California Angels in 1971 he nudged Mets fans every couple years, throwing seven no-hitters. “Every time he pitched you expected a no-hitter – or 15 strikeouts,” said Jay Horwitz, Mets VP/Public Relations, referring to Dwight Gooden. In May 1996, Gooden tossed the only no-hitter of his career – as a member of the New York Yankees. Even Duffy Dyer had to leave the New York Mets to catch his first no-hitter (John Candelaria, Pittsburgh, 1975), 11 years before Josh Thole was born.
The last time I spoke to R.A. Dickey it was 2010. It was a late spring morning in Port St. Lucie and he was sitting, legs crossed, on a wooden stool, Mets pinstripe pants, three-quarter sleeved t-shirt, stirrups, no shoes, quietly gnawing on a hot dog and eating baked beans off a paper plate in front of his temporary "space" in the New York Mets locker room. From a distance, Dickey appeared lost and alone amongst the anxious rookies and loud overconfident veterans. In hindsight, he probably was -- at that moment in time.
There is a new trend developing in the Major League Baseball free agent market, and it's nauseating. Players, namely free agent Roy Oswalt, are attempting to game the major league free agent system in an effort to pitch less, prolong their career, while shopping their talent to select contenders. Call it the new "short season."
It's Halloween weekend in New York, a time for ghouls, goblins and a few scares. In other words, it's an opportunity for the rest of the baseball world to experience what it's been like to be a New York Mets fan in 2009 ... and 2008 ... and 2007 ...
It's been a nightmare.