No team in the major leagues grinds my gears more than the Miami Marlins. From their hideous ballparks to their nine fans to their inexplicable success (two world championships, no division titles), the Florida/Miami franchise is the eyesore of the entire National League East. But we, the other teams, benefit from their frequent fire sales, and one of the players who eventually made his way to Flushing by way of Miami is Cliff Floyd. His finest day as a New York Met is the subject of today’s “Glory Days.”
Dateline: June 25, 2005. The Mets are in Yankee Stadium, looking to lock up a rare Subway Series victory from their inter-city rivals. Hitting cleanup for the National League visitors is left fielder Cliff Floyd, now in his third season in the orange and blue.
Floyd had spent three stints with other teams in the National League East, breaking in with Montreal’s ill-fated 1994 squad before being traded to the Florida Marlins in time for their stunning 1997 World Series run. He was one of the rare stars who lasted through Florida’s first fire sale, only leaving the team in a 2002 trade that sent him back to the Expos. That stretch only lasted a couple weeks, as he was dealt again at the deadline to Boston. He left the Red Sox via free agency after the season and became a Met at age 30. Floyd had smashed 18 home runs each of his first two seasons for New York, but had already matched that total less than halfway into the 2005 campaign.
It didn’t take long for him to get to #19, as he belted a two-run homer in the top of the first inning off Yankee starter Sean Henn. The Amazin’ onslaught would continue in the next frame as David Wright, now in his first full season for the Mets, hit a solo shot to make it 3-0. The Yankees got two back off Tom Glavine in the bottom of the inning when a hot young rookie named Robinson Cano doubled home Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi.
The score would remain 3-2 until the top of the fifth, when Jose Reyes started the fireworks with an innocent bunt single. He promptly stole second base his 23rd swipe of the season, and after Mike Cameron flew out, Carlos Beltran drove in Reyes with a double to left. That brought up Cliff Floyd, who continued to out-bomb the Bronx Bombers with another two-run shot, his 20th of 2005. It was now 6-2 for the New Yorkers from the National League, but the fun was just beginning.
Reyes tacked on another run in the sixth on an RBI single off Scott Proctor. Then against Mike Stanton (whose actual name probably isn’t Giancarlo), Floyd started a rally with a walk. Mike Piazza singled to bring up Wright, who hit a double down the left field line to plate Floyd. Chris Woodward hit a sac fly to score Piazza, then after Brian Daubach grounded out, Raul Castro brought the final run home on an RBI double.
The Yanks would get one more run off a Cano solo home run in the 9th, but it was far too little, far too late, as the Mets stunned the 55,114 in attendance with a 10-3 victory to clinch the rare series and mark an even rarer occurrence: the Mets and the Yankees had identical 37-37 records. And the star of this minor milestone win was Cliff Floyd and his 2-3, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI afternoon.
That day at Yankee Stadium was a high point for Floyd in a career season in which he hit 34 home runs (a personal best) and drove in 98 runs (five shy of his 2001 mark with the Marlins). His power led the Mets to a 83-79 record, their first winning season in four years, and put them in prime position to challenge the Atlanta Braves’ division championship streak the next season.
Injuries limited Cliff to only half the season on the 2006 Mets team that, let’s face it, should have won the World Series that year. He became a free agent at the end of the season and did not come back to Queens. He played moderate-to-key roles on the NL Central-champion Chicago Cubs in 2007 and American League-champion Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. He only appeared in 10 games for the San Diego Padres in 2009, his last year in the bigs.
Cliff Floyd retired from baseball after a very respectable 17-year career, amassing a .278 batting average .840 OPS, 233 home runs, and 865 RBIs to go along with his 2001 All-Star Game appearance and 1997 World Series ring. After running into some financial trouble after his playing days ended, Floyd started a new job this season as an analyst on MLB Network.
June 25. A good day for Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1988 (played in his 1000th consecutive game) and Andres Galarraga in 1995 (homers in three consecutive innings). Also a good day for West Berliners in 1948 (beginning of the Berlin airlift). A bad day for South Korea in 1950 (North Korea invades, beginning the still-technically-active Korean War) and Greek barbers in 1982 (Greece stops forcing military recruits to shave their heads upon enlistment). A great day for Cliff Floyd in 2005.