The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 2

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Mets

Saturday, June 21, 1997 - 4:10pm

Shea Stadium

New York, New York

Pre-Game Report
 The Pirates must be the scariest team in the National League. How else do you explain their success this season in the face of a low payroll, little name talent, and almost no fan support? And how about the Mets? In the last two weeks, the Mets beat the defending World Champions, flirted with a no-hitter, and their fans went head to head with the folks in the Bronx and came out unscathed. Anyone who has watched baseball this season will acknowledge that this matchup -- assuming each team continues its strong pitching and timely hitting -- will be an interesting one.

Stadium Stats - Shea Stadium

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 55,777
Dimensions: Left Field: 338 feet, Center Field: 410 feet, Right Field: 338 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Pirates's Logo

Pittsburgh Pirates

 The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't recovered from the firesale their ownership started in 1993. Like many smaller market teams, the Bucs were forced to reduce their payroll to find a buyer for the team, and the results are still being felt. With the departure of Manager Jim Leyland to Florida, and the laundry list of free agents who fled to greener pastures, the Pirates are but a shell of their former pennant chasing selves.

 The lack of talent is noticeable in the Bucs starting pitching. Unlike previous years, the Pirates don't have a dependable starter to build a rotation around. Jason Schmidt, the hard-throwing prospect acquired from the Braves in the Denny Neagle deal will be the number one starter and Jon Lieber, a once-perennial minor leaguer, should work with him nicely. Manager Gene Lamont does have a strong young bullpen, including John Ericks and Jeff Granger (both former #1 draft picks) who should be effective in closing out games.

 Al Martin and Kevin Elster, who was picked up during the offseason to play shortstop, account for most of the Pirate's power this season. And young prospect Jermaine Allensworth should anchor a strong defensive outfield. But, the rest of the roster is mainly utility players, none of which distinguishes themselves offensively or defensively.

Mets Logo

New York Mets

 The New York Mets have the worst luck of any team in the majors. They have been in a perennial state of rebuilding, shuffling young talent in and out of their lineup since a league worst 103 losses in 1993. And, when they finally compile a strong pitching staff to lead them through the very tough National League East, the team loses one pitcher to depression and another with tuberculosis. Fortunately, Manager Bobby Valentine has a firm grasp of baseball's fundamentals and knows what repairs can be made on this team.

 Valentine has a strong starting rotation to build on including Mark Clark, Pete Harnsich and Bobby Jones. If Jason Isringhausen can stave of injury, he has the talent to be an all-star. And, a strong bullpen including Toby Borland, Greg McMichael and Ricardo Jordan (all acquired during a three-day span in November) should be able to nail down some key wins in the face of low run support.

 As far as offensive production goes, the Mets lack considerable power in their lineup, even with the addition of John Olerud, and shouldn't be expected to produce a lot of runs. Young stars Rey Ordonez and Edgardo Alfonzo provide strong defense but have yet to find their major league swing. And, the Mets are left to hope that veterans Carlos Baerga and Bernard Gilkey provide the leadership needed to gel this team into a contender.

Post-Game Report
 The Mets captured their third straight one-run victory over the Pirates on Saturday in front of a raucous crowd of 32, 908 at Shea Stadium in New York. Click here to get my report on the stadium, the game against the Pirates, the fans, and more . . .

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