July 27th, 1999 and July 27th, 2009 are dates that will live on in Mets fan lore for years to come because two of the strangest moments in Mets history happened on each date.
Today we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Turn Ahead the Clock Night at Shea where we were introduced to the Mercury Mets and the 5th Anniversary of the #HasLobby Press Conference.
First let us celebrate the Mercury Mets in all their glory. We will first begin with a video from a very good series done by the MetsPolice that talks about the Mercury Mets.
The great Phil Hecken three years ago wrote about how he attended Turn Ahead the Clock Night at Shea and got to witness these amazing uniforms in person.
The brainstorm of MLB (in partnership with, I believe, Century 21), based off the popularity of a “one-time” 1998 game between the Mariners and the Royals, “Turn Ahead The Clock” games were played between twenty of the major league’s 30 teams in 1999. I won’t recite the promotion for you — a much better scribe than I already did so three years ago. If you want to learn all about the concept, give that article a read.
But what started out as a fun little “one time” thing morphed into this giant promotion, and MLB got two-thirds of the teams to play along. I recall I was at the office on that fateful day 12 years ago when I got a call from my pop, who had just acquired tickets for that night’s game. “Sure, I’ll go,” was my response. I’m not even sure I was aware of the promotion (I knew MLB had been doing it — the Mets were somewhere in the middle of the promotion schedule). As soon as I passed through the turnstiles, however, I knew what was up when fans were presented with souvenir caps. Somewhere over the years, I lost that cap — and I’m not so sure that’s not a bad thing.
The game itself was a bit of a blur, but 87-year old Orel Hershiser started and got creamed, giving up a homer on like the first pitch. He wasn’t known for profanity, but I’m pretty sure he was cursing under his glove — no doubt at having to wear the worst uniform of his career.
For some reason or other, while most other teams simply played in “futuristic” uniforms based on planet earth (sometime in the 2020s or 2030s), the Mets had decided by that year they’d be playing their games on planet Mercury. Brilliant.
I was only 11 years old when this night happened and don’t remember anything at all from that game or even watching it for that matter. Not gonna lie, pretty happy I missed this one considering the Mets lost the game and looked ugly doing it in the process.
The Mets lost 5-1 with future Met Kris Benson throwing a complete game to get the win while Orel Hershiser, Jason Isringhausen (Who would be traded to Oakland four days later) and Pat Mahomes pitched in a losing effort for the Mets. Robin Ventura had two hits, including a solo homer for the Mets only run of the night off Benson.
Now lets take a shorter trip back in time to only five years ago when then Mets General Manager Omar Minaya turned his press conference about the firing of Tony Bernazard into a moment that will live in infamy.
Before I continue let me make perfectly clear that I’m not trolling Adam Rubin in any way by writing about this crazy moment in Mets history. Yeah, we had a fight last year (besmirching is now a word I will never forget) but all has been forgiven on both sides.
He came on Stache Radio earlier this year and the hatchet was buried, sealed with the Stache making it back on his Mets blog roll. I was stunned he even wanted to come on the show and even answered a question about this press conference from Jon Presser with a ton of class.
What a difference a year makes.
Here is that episode with the Rubin Interview leading off the show.
The backstory to that whole mess at the actual press conference is that Rubin, while writing for the New York Daily News had reported that Tony Bernazard had threatened to fight some of the AA Binghamton Mets and took off his shirt to show how serious he was.
2009 had already been a pretty horrible year for the Mets on and off the field and this incident just added to the pile. A few days after the report came out the Mets fired Bernazard and in the press conference Omar accused Rubin of having an ulterior motive for writing the articles, trying to get a job in player development, as you watched in the video above.
I personally remember sitting in my dad’s car in the parking lot of a Duane Reade in Hartsdale (I have a really insane memory for random stuff) listening to WFAN as the press conference was going on, in stunned disbelief about what was happening.
It is one thing to watch from a far a sports team embarrass themselves and shake your head. It is another when the team that is doing the embarrassing stuff is one you root for.
Rubin would move on to ESPN New York not too long after the incident while Omar would be fired by the Mets after the 2010 season and is now one of the interim GM’s for the San Diego Padres. Tony Bernazard never would have another job in the front office of an MLB Club and the Mets 70-92 record that season is the worst they have had between 2005 and today.
July 27th is a date that will be remembered by Mets fans for things both on and off the field that just made you want to shake you head.
We remember these two incidents that happened to have happened on the same date on the Calendar because of the way they went down.
So sit back on this Sunday, turn on the Mets and raise a glass in memory of the Mercury Mets and the #HasLobby Press Conference.
They will never be forgotten by Mets fans until the end of time.