Murphy carried a personal-best 11-game hitting streak into the Mets' series opener against Cincinnati on Tuesday night at Citi Field. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET, he dropped in on the nine Cave Dwellers, did a Facebook chat, surprised fans and taped a video down in the basement with comedian Arsenio Hall, who will either be fired by Donald Trump or will make Clay Aiken a runner-up again when the live finale of NBC's "Celebrity
Apprentice" airs on Sunday night. That video will be posted in coming days on MLBFanCave.com.
"It's an honor to come here. I really appreciate the guys having me in," said Murphy, who showed up sporting Jets colors with a Tim Tebow T-shirt. "To get to talk with someone as talented as Arsenio Hall is a very humbling experience. I really enjoyed it and thought we had a lot of fun. I hope the people here and the people who get to watch it on TV enjoy it as well."
Hall congratulated Murphy and said he was a fan.
"Three thirty-three (actually .336), even to a comedian, sounds good. That is good, right?" Hall asked.
"It's a lot better than I thought I was gonna do, so I'll take it," Murphy replied.
"You're a young man, so you've got a lot of years of .333 ahead of you."
In the video, Murphy and Hall took turns asking each other random questions, sitting side-by-side. At one point they were talking about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, and how that pair once brought out the best in each other on the basketball court. Mets fans will appreciate the reply when they watch the video; Phillies fans, not so much.
"In baseball, are there people who bring that out of you?" Hall asked. "Are there people who, when you see them, you step up to another level?"
"It's like the teams. Maybe like the division teams. When we play Philly, you feel the energy. You kind of feel the intensity level heighten just a little bit. Not that if we play an Interleague game against the Blue Jays we aren't trying to win, but you just feel that intensity and that sharpness and focus heighten just a little bit. Especially when we go to Philly, because you feel how much they hate you. So you're like, 'All right, we're ready for this one.'"
"It just gives you that extra focus that, 'This is going to hurt them maybe more than a team that isn't in our division right now if we can play well.' When we went to Philly and we swept them, that was sweet. It felt good. It was very satisfying."
Murphy said he was pleased by the Mets' 20-16 start, which has them 2 1/2 games behind Washington in the NL East. But he doesn't want to dwell on that.
"I feel like we've been playing good baseball -- also with the understanding that we still need to continue to play quality baseball," he said. "Keep doing the things we've been doing and hopefully we'll continue to have some success, but a long way to go, still got a lot of work to do."
Growing up in Jacksonville, Fla., and attending college there as well, Murphy learned the game on the opposite coast as the player he probably admired the most. He said Hall of Famer and Padres legend Tony Gwynn left an impression on him, and he tries to emulate Gwynn's great bat.
"I really loved watching the way he could hit the ball to all fields," Murphy said. "He was a very tough guy to defend. He could hit one down the left-field line one at bat, down the right-field line the next at-bat. When you do that, it's tougher to defend, and I think it makes you a better hitter."
Reminded that Gwynn added pull power to his repertoire late in his career after talking hitting with Ted Williams, Murphy, who has 10 doubles but no homers, said, "With experience, you learn how to take a little more chances, you learn how to get to your power a little more. It's something I'm hoping I'm able to do as I get more experience in the big leagues."
At this rate one can argue that the NL second baseman chase is absolutely wide-open -- or should be. For now, one of the chief catalysts for a surprising Mets season said he is just happy that the Midsummer Classic is coming here in 2013.
"We are ecstatic to have it at Citi Field," Murphy said. "It's a chance for the rest of the country, and hopefully the world, to get a taste of Citi Field and how beautiful the ballpark is. It's something I get to experience on a daily basis."