11 August, 2005

A tale of two teams

The Mets.

Even the name is the same.

In 1962, "The Amazin' Mets," made up of a lot of over-the-hill players, were a laughing-stock in their fledgling National League season, setting an all-time major league losing record. They finished last in just about every category imaginable.

Now fast forward to the 2005 Cape Cod Baseball League season when the Hyannis Mets stumbled about as badly as did their namesakes in 1962.

One might expect a change in managers for a team with a 7-36-1 record, which included losing streaks of 10, 14 and a season-ending eight games.

But when asked whether manager Greg King will be back next year, Hyannis Mets general manager John Howitt says "We know we'll bring him back; he's not the problem. A majority of the players under-performed. He has done a wonderful job under the conditions."

Just last season, the Mets made the playoffs before losing two of three to the Falmouth Commodores. This year was a different story, one that King and Howitt would just as soon forget as the team set a league record for losses.

King was prophetic in the Mets' preseason newsletter: "On paper it certainly looks like John Howitt and I have put together a quality group of players. As veteran Cape Leaguers know, however, it doesn't necessarily matter whose name is on the roster. What matters is how well these players perform together. ... I only hope that this season is as memorable and rewarding as last year's."

King and Howitt had high hopes. They had a good squad on paper. "But we lost 18 or 19 kids to Team USA, major league draft signings and injured pitchers," says King.

He reels off some of the names, including Tom McCullough, Shane Robinson, Mark Melanson, Steven Perry, Chris Ingoglia.

"We tried to get replacements, but many went to contract leagues such as New England College Baseball League, Alaska, Texan Collegiate, and Florida," King adds.

While acknowledging those circumstances, Howitt doesn't dwell on them. "We recruited as well as any other year; we expected to be competitive." 

But when you're last in hitting after leading the league in average (.245) and hits (362) in 2004 and last in pitching, there's not much to say. "The kids who had a great college season didn't perform for us.

"Bright spots? Not many," Howitt sighs. "Kevin Koski [center fielder from Southern Illinois] did a great job in the field and his hitting improved.

"We picked up Charlie Forbush [6-5 freshman pitcher, St. Joseph's, Maine] at tryouts as a temporary player. He has all kinds of potential; Division 1 schools want him to transfer.

"And our DH, Houston freshman Mark McGonigle, has come along. We'll invite him back next year."

The Mets went through five catchers, one who signed with the Detroit Tigers, before picking up Justin Tellam (UNLV), who hit four home runs during the season and performed well in the home run hitting contest at the All-Star game.

Looking ahead, Howitt's wish list for the 2006 season at McKeon Field includes lights, upgraded grandstands, refreshment facilities, and most of all, a competitive Hyannis Mets team once again.

10 out of 10

This year's Hyannis Mets and the 1962 New York Mets finished 10th out of 10 teams in each of the following categories:

     2005 1962
     Hyannis Mets New York Mets
     7W-36L 1 Tie 40W 120L
     Win % .170 Win % .250
     Games Behind19 Games Behind 60 1/2
     Team Batting Avg .207 Team Batting Avg .240
     Earned Run Avg 5.10 Earned Run Avg 5.04


By Don Sherlock / dsherloc@cnc.com