Four Days Until Opening Day!
Today’s Flashback – 2002
Monday, April 1, 2002 vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Win, by score of 6-2, to go 1-0 on the season.
Opening Day 2002 was another start to a season where Mets fans had high hopes. Steve Phillips had made some bold transactions in the offseason. We “stole” Roberto Alomar from the Indians in a trade that was wildly heralded as one-sided, even though we had given up can’t miss prospect Alex Escobar (remember him?). Another once blue chip prospect Alex Ochoa was sent away in a three team trade that netted Jeromy Burnitz, also jettisoning Benny Agbayani, Todd Zeile, Glendon Rusch and Mike Piazza’s best buddy Lenny Harris. And of course the big move, trading Kevin Appier for slugger Mo Vaughn, a player who had missed all of 2001 and was still owed $50MM. We even brought back Roger Cedeno! In all, Steve Phillips brought in 13 new players and the team boasted a $95 million payroll.
53,734 fans were in attendance (then the largest opening day crowd in Shea Stadium history) to see the new team on a windy afternoon game that started at 3:12. It was a new post 9/11 world for us in attendance. We were met by huge lines, slowed by new security procedures, to get into the stadium. The Mets uniforms bore two special patches – one commemorating the team’s 40th anniversary, and one in memory of 9/11. New mayor Mike Bloomberg threw out the first pitch and during the seventh-inning stretch, Art Garfunkel sang ”God Bless America.”
Al Leiter started the game for the Mets, and pitched very well, allowing 1 unearned run over six innings to get the win, as newcomer David Weathers threw two no-hit innings and Armando Benitez closed out the ninth. Newcomer Mo Vaughn went 0-5 with two strikeouts (but it was the bat manufacturers fault?), but Roberto Alomar drove in two runs, as did Jay Payton, who hit a homerun.
Bobby Valentine’s Mets would go on to a 75-86 record, finishing last in the NL East.