Chris Cannizzaro, RIP: From Stengelese foil to teaching as winning

Chris Cannizzaro as a young Original Met“The first major league pitch I ever called . . . a curve ball to Wally Moon,” Chris Cannizzaro once said. “I didn’t catch it.” That’s because Moon, then with the Dodgers, hit it far over the infamous Chinese Screen in left field in the old Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Dodgers were shoehorned into playing baseball until Dodger Stadium was ready in 1962.

Cannizzaro was then enjoying one of a couple of cups of coffee with the Cardinals. If he didn’t get to catch his first major league called pitch, he didn’t have any better luck in his first major league at-bat: he grounded out to second base against Sandy Koufax.

Two different ex-Mets become two different Braves

The Braves get a pitcher/acrobat by signing Bartolo Colon (lower left) . . .

The Braves get a pitcher/acrobat by signing Bartolo Colon (lower left) . . .

The rebuilding Braves decided a little senior leadership on the mound was what their budding pitching corps needs. So they signed the two oldest active major league pitchers this week. R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball specialist and erstwhile Cy Young Award winner (2012), signed for one year and $8 million guaranteed. And Bartolo Colon has signed for one year and $12.5 guaranteed.

Both signings ensure the Braves’ younger arms will be mentored by former Mets. If they happen to win some games while they’re at it, that’s a plus. But you won’t find two pitchers who left the Mets in more differing conditions when they did leave.

Self-surviving Giants send Mets home three bucks short

Gillaspie, who'd just hit the slider near the ceiling over the right field fence for three and, ultimately, a date between the Giants and the Cubs . . .

Gillaspie, who’d just hit the slider near the ceiling over the right field fence for three and, ultimately, a date between the Giants and the Cubs . . .

The Mets survived everything thrown at them in 2016 and came up three bucks short. The Giants survived themselves and, at the eleventh hour, punched their ticket to Chicago for a division series showdown with the Cubs.

And until Jeurys Familia threw the wrong pitch to a no-name number eight hitter named Conor Gillaspie, who had to step in for injured Eduardo Nunez late in the season, the National League wild card game threatened to go to extra innings and maybe beyond no matter who might be the last man standing on the mound.

Dealing the last wild cards, and hearing the last of a lyricist

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants' home audience?

What does it say that Vin Scully was shown the love even by the Giants’ home audience?

Vin Scully ended his broadcasting career in the home ballpark of the Dodgers’ age-old rivals, receiving an affectionate pre-game visit from Willie Mays, awash in a sea of placards (THANK YOU VIN) and maybe the only known standing ovation ever afforded a Dodger in San Francisco. His final words were as gracious as you might have expected from this excessively modest man who always seemed to believe his gift from God was merely something on loan.

Breaking and unbreaking the Mets’ backs

"As soon as I hit it," Cabrera (13) said after his three-run bomb won it for the Mets, "I knew it was gone." So was the memory of the game-winning three-run bomb robbed from the Mets Wednesday. Maybe . . .

“As soon as I hit it,” Cabrera (13) said after his three-run bomb won it for the Mets, “I knew the ball was going to be gone.” So was the memory of the game-winning three-run bomb robbed from the Mets Wednesday. Maybe . . .

There are times when entire baseball seasons or championships are believed to turn, for better or worse, on single acts at the plate, on the mound, or in the field. Marshal the appropriate evidence and those beliefs can be either upheld or obliterated.

A sweep weekend for the Mets and the Red Sox

It wasn't exactly the Hanley Ramirez Show only for the weekend Red Sox, but don't tell CC Sabathia, who surrendered the three-run homer Ramirez has just hit here . . .

It wasn’t exactly the Hanley Ramirez Show only for the weekend Red Sox, but don’t tell CC Sabathia, who surrendered the three-run homer Ramirez has just hit here . . .

Thirty years ago, the Mets and the Red Sox locked in mortal baseball combat, in a World Series. It ended with the Mets on top of a baseball world that didn’t necessarily love that edition of the team, and the Red Sox having been kicked to the rocks below after having gotten close enough, yet again, to a Promised Land determined never to let them set foot upon it again, or so it seemed.

Medicine for the Mets: Sweep the Cubs

Loney (l) gives Flores the low-five on Flores's record-tying Sunday . . .

Loney (l) gives Flores the low-five on Flores’s record-tying Sunday . . .

Don’t even think about saying the Mets have been cured completely of their June swoon just yet. And don’t even think about saying the Cubs have been broken back to the land of the mere mortals just yet. But it wouldn’t be out of line to suggest that a weekend sweep of the Cubs gave the Mets their first serious medicinal break of the year. And we use the term “medicinal” advisedly.

A Troublesome Homecoming

Jose Reyes in the Rockies' dugout, before Hawaii and domestic violence limbo.

Jose Reyes in the Rockies’ dugout, before Hawaii and domestic violence limbo.

Having spent much of June reeling somewhat ferociously, the Mets enter a set against the first place Nationals on a small tear of having won four out of six. Two of the four were a sweep of the defending world champion Royals, against whom the Mets lost a 2015 World Series they actually could have won (they won this season’s series against the Royals, 3-1), and they’ve just split a set in Atlanta with the lowly Braves who swept them rather ignominiously at home the previous weekend.

The thumb for Thor was too hasty Saturday night

Syndergaard looks bewildered over being tossed for throwing behind, not at Utley . . .

Syndergaard–in replica 1986 Mets uniform–looks bewildered over being tossed for throwing behind, not at Utley . . .

Two weeks ago, Matt Bush hit Jose Bautista over a seven-month-old bat flip, a flip at a time Bush wasn’t in a Rangers uniform. That plunk drew mere warnings to both the Rangers and the Blue Jays, before Bautista tried to take Rougned Odor out of a double play and Odor shoved then punched Bautista to trigger a bench-clearing brawl.

Thor outpitches Mad Max

Thor drops the hammer on the Nats . . .

Thor drops the hammer on the Nats . . .

How do you follow up a game in which you nailed twenty strikeouts? If you’re Max Scherzer, who punched out twenty Tigers in a start last week, you go to New York, face Noah Syndergaard—the lightning Met who hits 100 on the radar gun with frightening regularity—and come up short despite matching Thor ten punchouts to ten punchouts.

It’s not that you pitched horribly against these Mets. It’s just that you threw two pitches you shouldn’t have. Two pitches that flew out faster than you threw them. And on a night Syndergaard was Thor to the tenth power, and the Mets bullpen didn’t have an arsonist among them, that isn’t enough.