Sunday, April 03, 2011

For year No. 47: Jay and Jesse, fresh starts and happy endings

It's a pitcher's number.

I'm referring to No. 47. And after consulting the magnificent “Mets by the Numbers,” by Jon Springer and Matt Silverman, I know that of the 14 Mets to wear the number, 13 were hurlers.

Some important folks, too. Jay Hook wore No. 47 when he pitched the Mets to their first-ever victory in 1962, over the Pirates. A smart guy, Hook was a Northwestern grad who went to work as an engineer when his playing days were over.

Another was former closer Jesse Orosco, who struck out Marty Barrett to finish off the Boston Red Sox in Game Seven of the 1986 World Series. Jesse also struck out the Astros' Kevin Bass to end the NLCS, and I thought of that moment when I wandered into the Astrodome in 2009. Durable Orosco holds the major league record for appearances by a reliever.

I've been thinking about openings and closings a lot as I approached birthday 47 today. Both can be exciting and scary, too. Like R.A. Dickey's dancing knuckleball against the Marlins today, we're just not always sure where we're headed or the exact path we'll take to get there. I'm trusting God has a plan.

And, should there be a transition this year, I'd rather be like Jesse, rejoicing as he threw his glove to the heavens, and not another Met No. 47 – Tom Glavine, who was famously “disappointed, but not devastated” after puking away the final game of the 2007 season and the team's playoff chances.

The one non-pitcher to wear No. 47 was Super Joe McEwing, who delivered one of my favorite quotes in Mets history.

Back in 2005, a young and aggressive David Wright tried to break up a double play in a tight game against the Braves. Wright slid way out of the baseline to knock down the fielder, and the runner at first was called out. It's the kind of play you never see called against the Yankees, but always against the Mets, especially in tight, important games against the Braves. There was much controversy.

McEwing was a mentor to Wright, and had since been traded to the Royals. But after the game he called him.

“Why were you trying to take out Andruw Jones?” he asked.

Jones, of course, was the Braves' center fielder.