In the disastrous 2002 season, Cedeno was just one of the many targets of Mets fans’ boos, but in 1999, he was a fan favorite. He hit a robust .313 and, under the tutelage of All-Time stolen base king and teammate Rickey Henderson, established a then-new club record for most stolen bases in a season with 66 (good enough for second in the National League). Cedeno’s success continued in the post-season, when he hit .286 (2-for-7) in the National League Division Series against Arizona, then batted .500 (6-for-12) in the National League Championship Series against Atlanta, with a double, two stolen bases and an RBI. In a pivotal moment of NLCS Game 2, Cedeno narrowly missed a two-run homer, which may have altered the course of a game the Mets would lose. And who can’t erase the image of Cedeno’s flying chest bump into teammate Melvin Mora after the pair scored the winning runs in NLCS Game 4, on a Jon Olerud single off Mets’ arch-nemesis John Rocker?
a) Rusty Staub
Staub, one of the most popular Mets in club history, epitomized the concept of a valiant effort. In the 1973 post-season, after separating his shoulder by crashing into the right field wall, Staub was forced to throw underhanded, but continued to play in pain. And while he did, he absolutely caught fire at the plate. In the huge Mets upset three games to two victory in the National League Championship Series against the mighty, defending National League Champion Cincinnati Reds, Staub smacked 3 homers and knocked in 5 runs. He saved his best, though, for the World Series against an even tougher opponent, the defending World Champion Oakland A’s. In that series, Staub led all starting players with his .423 batting average and was tied with the A’s Reggie Jackson with 6 RBI. Satub likely would’ve won that series’ Most Valuable Player award but for one at-bat in Game 6 in which he failed to come through. In the top of the 8th inning of that game and the Mets holding a 3-2 edge in games, they closed to within 2-1. Staub came to bat with one out and runners on the corners. But A’s lefty specialist Darold Knowles fanned Staub swinging on three pitches and then retired Cleon Jones to end the threat. The Mets would lose the World Series in seven games and Staub would finish with a post-season batting average of .341.
b) Edgardo Alfonzo
From October 1 to October 21, 2000, this Met’s picture should’ve accompanied the dictionary’s definition of “torrid.” The popular Met known as “Fonz,” was ripping the cover off the baseball. In that year’s Division Series against the San Francisco Giants, in a three games-to-one Mets victory, he hit .278, including a go-ahead home run in Game 2 and a game-tying single in Game 3. The Cardinals had no answer for Alfonzo in the National League Championship Series – even though their pitchers walked him four times – as he destroyed Redbird pitching to the tune of a .444 clip, with four RBI. But after Fonz delivered a go-ahead infield single in Game 1 of the 2000 Subway Series against the Yankees, his bat turned ice cold. He would hit just .143 in the Series and finished with a career .260 post-season batting average. Alfonzo would redeem himself as a Giant in 2003, making up for a mediocre season by hitting .529 against the Florida Marlins in that year’s National League Division Series.
c) Keith Hernandez
The Sports Net New York color commentator was unquestionably Mr. Clutch, both at bat and on the field as a Met. He was the heart and soul of the 1986 World Championship club and part of the best trade, to this day, the Mets have ever made. But in the post-season, he hit just .256 as a Met. But that hardly mattered, as Hernandez made every hit count. In National League Championship Series Game 3 against the Houston Astros, he singled in a game-tying rally. In legendary Game 6, he doubled in a run and scored the tying run in the 9th inning. In the World Series against the Red Sox, he again was in the middle of a game-tying rally in Game 7, contributing a two-run single and later adding a sacrifice fly.
Check this blog later today for another Mets trivia question.