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On This Date in Sports April 30, 1990: Cone Meltdown

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Frustration gets the best of David Cone and the New York Mets in a 7-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Fulton County Stadium. In the fourth inning, Cone covering on a ground ball is angered at a safe call allowing Mark Lemke to reach base on a grounder Gregg Jeffries. Cone feeling he touched the bag argues with first base umpire Charlie Williams, allowing two runs to score while he held on to the ball. 

It was a new decade for the New York Mets and a new era. Following a disappointing 87-75 season in 1989, the Mets said goodbye to both captains Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez. It was the first time since 1983 that the Mets failed to win at least 90 games. The Mets had hoped to bounce back in 1990 but had gotten off to a slow start. The season began a week late due to a spring training lockout, and the Mets were holding a 9-9 as they started a three-game series with Atlanta Braves, who were off to a terrible start a 3-13. 

The seat was getting hot for Mets’ manager Davey Johnson as he had David Cone take the mound, while John Smoltz made the start for Russ Nixon and the Braves. The Mets got the first run in the game in the third inning as David Cone singled home Kevin Elster in the third inning. However, in the bottom of the third, Atlanta took a 2-1 lead when Oddibe McDowell hit a two-run homer. 

In the fourth inning, the wheels began to fall off for Cone and the Mets. Dale Murphy reached base on a steal and stole second as Mackey Sasser fidgeted the ball back to the pitcher. Ernie Whitt followed with a walk. After Andres Thomas lineout to center, Cone appeared to have gotten out of the inning when a grounder to the right as handled by second baseman Gregg Jeffries. With the first baseman, Mike Marshall going for the grounder Cone went to the bag to receive the throw. David Cone touched the bag, but umpire Charlie Williams ruled Mark Lemke to be safe. Cone angered at the call began arguing as Murphy snuck down the line and scored. David Cone continued to argue as Ernie Whitt came into score a second run. Dave Johnson, who had been lost in thought of how much he has screwed up the 1988 NLCS, finally came out to protect his pitcher, but it was too late as the Braves led 4-1. Somewhere a young boy yelled cuncele for the first time at that moment.

David Cone was not ejected, but the game was off the rails for the Mets, in the fifth inning, Atlanta extended their lead to 6-1 on a two-run home run by Jeff Treadway. The Mets would scratch across a run in the sixth, which the Braves quickly answered. In the eighth inning, the Mets got a pair of runs on a two-run home run by Howard Johnson. The Mets would lose the game 7-4 as Joe Boever recorded the save, striking out Gregg Jeffries to end the game.

The Mets would continue to struggle into May, leading to the firing of Dave Johnson on May 29th, as the Mets held a record of 20-22. The Mets would turn it around in June as they won 21 games under Buddy Harrelson. The Mets would battle Pittsburgh Pirates until September posting a record of 91-71. David Cone would finish 1990 with a record of 14-10, with 233 strikeouts to lead the National League. Cone would lead the league in strikes outs again in 1991. He was on his way to doing it again in 1992 but was traded in August to an American League team.