NY Mets and Brewers rivalry goes beyond the Wilmer Flores no-trade

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 29: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets looks on in the dugout in the ninth inning duirng the game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on July 29, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 29: Wilmer Flores #4 of the New York Mets looks on in the dugout in the ninth inning duirng the game against the San Diego Padres at Citi Field on July 29, 2015 in Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Right as the New York Mets were coming into their own in their eighth season, en route to their first World Championship in franchise history, the Milwaukee Brewers were coming into their own as a new expansion Major League team.

In their first season in 1969, they set up shop roughly 3,000 miles away from the Amazins as the Seattle Pilots. The next season, they moved to Milwaukee County Stadium and began their tenure as the Milwaukee Brewers, the first MLB team to reside in Milwaukee since the Braves had stopped there from 1953-1965.

Even after the Brewers moved to Milwaukee, they were still in the American League, and the Mets never played them until the Brewers moved to the National League in 1998.

The two teams have also, as of 2021, never met in the postseason.

That ’98 season was notable in Metsland because it marked the arrival of All-Star, and future Hall of Famer, Mike Piazza. They traded for him from the Florida Marlins on May 22, 1998, and he made his Mets debut on May 23 at Shea Stadium in a game against the Brewers. In front of 32,908 giddy Mets fans, Piazza caught a four-hit shutout from Al Leiter in his first game in Queens. He also notched his first hit as a Met, a two-out RBI double in the fifth inning, to help send the Mets to a 3-0 win.

In their collective histories, 123 different players have batted for both the Mets and the Brewers, and 72 players have pitched for both organizations. Several of those players were involved in trades between the two teams, including one that took place on January 21, 2002. That night, the Mets orchestrated a complex three-team deal that involved trading Glendon Rusch and Lenny Harris to the Brewers and shipping Benny Agbayani and Todd Zeile off to the Colorado Rockies. In total, the Mets received Ross Gload, Craig House, Jeromy Burnitz, Lou Collier, Jeff D’Amico, and Mark Sweeney, plus cash, from the trade. Though he was no longer pitching in Queens, Rusch was not absent from Mets history for long.

As of 2002, the Mets did not yet have a no-hitter to their name, while the Brewers had just one (Juan Nieves in 1987), but on April 26 and 27, 2002, the Mets were close to making history against the Brew Crew. During that series, the Amazins took no-hitters into the 7th inning in consecutive games.

On April 26, Shawn Estes matched up against Rusch. It was Estes’ fifth start in a Mets uniform, and he not only no-hit the Brewers through six, he also had a perfect game through six full innings. Unfortunately, Eric Young Sr. led off the seventh with a single, so Estes had to settle for a one-hitter, but he still managed to churn out one of the best-pitched games in Mets history.

The next day, the Mets’ Pedro Astacio matched up with Milwaukee’s Nick Neugebauer. Astacio did not quite have a perfecto through six, but he still managed to hold the Brewers without a hit until Geoff Jenkins singled with one out in the seventh. Astacio, unlike Estes, did not complete this game, but he still tossed eight innings of one-run ball and got the win after his outstanding effort.

Several years later, the Mets and Brewers were involved in another trade with an even higher-profile player. On July 13, 2011, the Mets traded closer Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and cash to the Brewers in exchange for two players to be named later, which turned into Danny Herrera and Adrian Rosario. K-Rod pitched for several more years in the big leagues, helping the Brewers get to the NLCS in 2011 and later saving 44 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2016. Neither Herrera nor Rosario made much of an impact once they got to the Mets.

By July 2015, the Mets had already gone through years of heartbreak and rebuilding and were fighting for the top spot in the NL East, and the Brewers were struggling to stay afloat in the NL Central. During a game between the Mets and the San Diego Padres, word broke around the baseball world that Wilmer Flores, along with Zack Wheeler, had been traded to the Brewers in exchange for center fielder Carlos Gómez.

Word spread throughout the Mets and Brewers rosters, but there was one person who remained steadfast that a deal had not been finalized: Terry Collins.

“David Wright was injured at the time, and he comes out of the clubhouse saying, ‘Hey, it’s all over the TV that Wilmer has been traded!’ I said, ‘David, I don’t know a thing about it. You see that phone over there? That phone goes to Sandy. That phone has not rung.’ So now it’s going on, and Wilmer starts crying,” Collins told MLB.com in a 2020 interview.

While this “Brew ha-ha” was going on in Flushing, Gómez and the Brewers were on an airplane and also thought the deal was finalized. Much like Mets fans were giving Flores a going-away ovation at Citi Field, the entire Brewers organization prepared to bid farewell to their sparkplug outfielder.

Of course, Mets fans likely know how the story ends. The Mets’ doctors recommended that the deal not go through due to a hip issue that surfaced on Gómez’s physical, and it was dead in the water almost as quickly as it had emerged. Flores stayed with the Mets for the rest of that year and through the 2018 season, helping to carry the Mets to the 2015 postseason, while Gómez was traded to the Houston Astros the day after the deal with the Mets fell through.

The next year, after the dust had (mostly) settled from the Flores no-trade fiasco, David Wright also had a memorable night at Citi Field involving the Brewers. The date was May 21, 2016, and the Mets were locked in a 4-4 tie with the Brew Crew heading to the ninth inning. Jacob deGrom, pre-GOAT status, started that game and had allowed all four Brewers runs over the first five innings.

In the bottom of the ninth, Eric Campbell led off with a single, followed by a walk to Kevin Plawecki. After a successful sacrifice bunt from Matt Reynolds moved Campbell and Plawecki to second and third, Curtis Granderson was intentionally walked to bring up Wright. Swinging 3-0, Wright lined a pitch the other way into right field for a single, scoring Campbell with the winning run.

His teammates mobbed him at first base, the Brewers dejectedly walked off the field, and Wright’s “Captain America” status was affirmed once again. Six days later, he hit the last home run of his career on May 27, 2016, against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ultimately, the Mets had the last laugh in 2016, making it to the NL Wild Card game while the Brewers finished 73-89, mired at fourth place in the NL Central. By the next season, the Mets would not be so fortunate as to compete for a playoff spot, and they wound up involved with the Brewers in another, less triumphant way.

On August 12, 2017, the Mets traded second baseman Neil Walker to the Brewers in exchange for reliever Eric Hanhold. Walker spent only 38 games with Milwaukee in 2017, hitting .267 with four home runs and 13 RBIs, before heading across town to spend the 2018 season with the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, Hanhold’s entire Major League career consisted of three games with the Mets in 2018, in which he allowed two runs in 2 1/3 innings.

In 2021, the Mets have dealt with an almost unfathomable rash of injuries, at one point piecing together lineups with 17 players on the injured list. In the midst of those injury woes, the Mets sought out the Brewers once again for a trade, this time acquiring some outfield help. On May 25, 2021, the Mets traded Minor League pitcher Pedro Quintana to the Brewers for outfielder Billy McKinney, who had recently been designated for assignment.

McKinney quickly fit right in among the “Replace-Mets” that were unexpectedly called into service when over half of the roster went down. He hit two home runs over his first four games as a Met, scored the winning run of their walk-off win vs. the Philadelphia Phillies on June 26, and in general has provided steady outfield defense and a penchant for extra-base hits from the left side of the plate.

Next. One Mets player who grew up in Shea Stadium's backyard

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Both of these teams have excellent pitching staffs and playoff aspirations for 2021. Perhaps this year will be the one in which the stars align for both the Mets and the Brewers and they make baseball history together, in some way, shape, or form.

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