The New York Mets delivered a ray of sunshine and hope on a day that was tarnished by the passing of Rusty Staub. With the promise of things yet to come, the Mets trounced the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 9-4, their 21st Opening Day win at home in their last 24 tries…
Noah Syndergaard delivered six innings of near faultless pitching, striking out ten and surrendering no walks over 89 pitches, picking up his first win of the season for himself and the Mets. Uncharacteristically, Syndergaard was touched for two home runs, but it was not enough to overcome a team offense that sprang alive from the get-go.
Coming out of the gate strong, Yoenis Cespedes collected two hits and drove in three runs. Up and down the team’s lineup, the supporting cast came through with a barrage of singles adding up to a formula of solid pitching and timely hitting which will make some noise in the NL East.
Brandon Nimmo, the Mets pleasant Spring Training surprise (on base four times with two hits), Adrian Gonzalez (two hits and two walks, Kevin Plawecki (two hits, two walks, and two runs scored), drove the offense. A strong effort from the bullpen, highlighted by Robert Gsellman‘s striking out the side in his one inning of work, nailed the victory down for the Mets at Citi Field.
Syndergaard was noticeably looking forward to this start as proof that he is back and ready to take on all comers. Talk of a Cy Young Award comes mostly from fans and the media, but there appears to be an underlying electric current every time Syndergaard has taken the mound this spring. Coupled with Jacob deGrom, the duo is the prime reason the Mets are considered to be excellent contenders for a Wild Card spot in the National League.
As a somber tribute to their fallen teammate, the Mets chalked in a number ten behind the pitcher’s mound before the game. Staub wore number four when he first came to the Mets in a trade from the Montreal Expos in 1972 but switched to number ten when Tim Teufel left the team.
Always a massive physical presence, Staub found retirement not conducive to weight control, and ultimately suffered a recent heart attack while on a plane. From there, it was all downhill as multiple organs failed, resulting in his death in Palm Beach, Florida at the age of 73.
In a statement released by the Mets before today’s game, Staub is remembered as a Mets icon:
The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. “A six-time All-Star, he is the only player in major league history to have collected as least (sic) 500 hits with four different teams. The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson. He will be missed by everyone.”Bill Madden, New York Daily News
And so, we have this upside downside day in Queens with the passing of a truly beloved Met, versus the exhilarating opening to the 2018 season by the 25 Mets who occupy lockers in a clubhouse Rusty Staub never knew.
Most of the Mets, in fact, were not even born when Staub played for the Mets. Noah Syndergaard, for instance, was born seven years after Staub retired from baseball in 1985.
But hopefully, these Mets players can acknowledge and form respect for the tradition of the New York Mets and the players who have preceded the ones who are here now.
Some fans can ballyhoo and discard the tradition that exists across the river in the Bronx, but you know what, it does count and it does matter. The blue and orange were worn by Rusty Staub, and when his life as a ballplayer and as a person is considered, that should mean something to any ballplayer who dons the same uniform, now and in the future.
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