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Fonzie: Voters Made Gold Glove Error

On a day when two Mets were awarded Gold Gloves and the team's stellar infield

play was recognized and validated, the Mets' 'D' stood for dismay and

disbelief. Third baseman Robin Ventura and shortstop Rey Ordonez yesterday

added to their collections of gold. But second baseman Edgardo Alfonzo didn't

lay a glove on an award.

So the notion that the Mets' 1999 infield was the best ever made it only

halfway around the horn. John Olerud, not expected to win a Gold Glove for his

work at first base, didn't, and Alfonzo, who had come to believe he would win,

finished behind Pokey Reese of the Reds.

"If you talked to him today, he probably wouldn't say a thing about it,"

Alfonzo's agent, Peter Greenberg, said. "But I talked to him right after he was

told, and he was disappointed, particularly after everyone was telling him

'That's yours.' When he got home to Venezuela, everyone was saying that. And

he'd heard that before the season ended."

Alfonzo didn't respond to requests for an interview, but Greenberg spoke in his

client's behalf from Puerto Rico.

"He's hurt, definitely hurt," the agent said. "Usually, he'd just shrug it off.

I think I was more upset than he was the last two years. But this year is

different."

Alfonzo ran second at third base to Ken Caminiti of the Padres in 1997 and to

Scott Rolen of the Phillies last year. He was shifted to second base for the

'99 season after the Mets acquired Ventura. Reese, a first-time recipient, was

shifted to second from shortstop this year.

The other National League winners were: catcher, Mike Lieberthal, Phillies;

first base, J.T. Snow, Giants; outfield, Larry Walker, Rockies; Andruw Jones,

Braves; Steve Finley, Diamondbacks, and pitcher, Greg Maddux, Braves. Maddux

set a National League record with his 10th Gold Glove, one more than Bob

Gibson.

The award winners were announced yesterday by The Sporting News, which has been

associated with the award and sponsor, Rawlings Sporting Goods, since

inception of the Gold Glove in 1957.

Ventura, who won five Gold Gloves in the American League, and Ordonez, who has

won the award for three successive seasons, are the first Mets to be recognized

in the same year.

The Mets' chance of winning three Gold Gloves had been a topic of speculation

for much of the summer after Alfonzo's shift proved to be an unqualified

success. Only the Orioles of 1969, 1971 and 1973-75 had three infield

recipients.

The Mets committed the fewest overall errors and the fewest infield errors, 68

and 33, respectively, and allowed the fewest unearned runs, 20, ever in a

major-league season. Ordonez completed the regular season with 100 consecutive

errorless games, a record for shortstops. He committed four errors, one fewer

than Alfonzo. Ventura and Olerud had nine each. None of Alfonzo's errors came

on ground balls.

"When Caminiti won two years ago [after winning in 1995 and '96], we could say

it was like a championship fight. The challenger had to remove all doubt. And

Edgardo did," Greenberg said. "But who knows now. Maybe playing next to Rey

hurt him. Rey is a no-brainer. And Robin definitely deserved it. And maybe some

people had a problem voting for three Mets."

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