Robin Ventura, and let’s not forget about “Super” Joe McEwing, return to New York tonight as the White Sox are here for a quick two game series. Ventura is in his second full season as manager while McEwing serves as his third base coach. With these two coming back tonight I can’t help but think about the 1999 and 2000 team that I enjoyed watching so much. To this day those are still my two favorite Mets seasons.
Ventura only played three seasons with the team but left his mark as an all-time fan favorite with moments such as the grand-slam single in game 5 of the 1999 NLCS and when he impersonated Mike Piazza during a rain delay at Yankee stadium. He was a fantastic fielder at third base and was part of the infield that Sports Illustrated famously referred to as “The Best Infield Ever.” It felt like every time the Mets had the bases loaded he was up. He hit 5 grand slams with the Mets, it would have been 6 if not for Todd Pratt.
I always felt Ventura was a crucial part of the roster as he seemed to help ease some of the tension for Piazza at a time when so much pressure was put on his shoulders. I was shocked when I read the White Sox had hired him as a head coach last season while having no real coaching experience. But so far so good for Ventura and the White Sox, I wish him the best of luck going forward, except for these two games against the Mets.
Joe McEwing was a utility player that I never fully appreciated during his time.What I remember most about McEwing was his ability to hit Randy Johnson who was in the prime of his career. Every time the Mets faced Johnson you just knew McEwing was going to be in the line-up. He hit .302 against the lefty while with the Mets, which might not sound all that impressive but you have to remember how dominate Johnson was at that time and that McEwing is only a career .250 hitter.
Although I still feel Bobby V played him too often, as he was a personal favorite of his, McEwing was a very versatile player who was capable of playing just about anywhere on the field. I’m not surprised to see him on a coaching staff as he was known for having a high baseball IQ, he could very well be coaching a team himself one day.
Jay Horowitz had joked on twitter that Todd Pratt would be throwing out the first pitch tonight with Ventura as the catcher. I wish that were really happening as I would love to see Pratt lift him up in the air for old times sake. I only hope this team will come together and be every bit as exciting as those teams were in the near future.