Problem With Retiring Jerry Koosman’s And Keith Hernandez’s Numbers

It used to be in order for a New York Mets player to have their number retired, they needed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a New York Met. That is why Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza had their numbers retired, and why Gary Carter didn’t. Had the Baseball Hall of Fame not treated Carter differently than every other Hall of Famer in baseball history, his number 8 would be in the rafters at Citi Field.

Somewhere along the way, perhaps not coincidentally coinciding with Steve Cohen’s purchase of the New York Mets, the Mets changed their policy on retiring numbers. First, it was Jerry Koosman. Then, it was Keith Hernandez. Certainly, we anticipate David Wright will be next followed by a massive argument amongst the fanbase as to who gets their numbers retired.

Therein lies the problem. When the Mets had a stringent policy, there was at least one. A player wasn’t slighted by not having their number retired, and they weren’t having their career or impact on the Mets belittled. Rather, there was a policy in place, but there was a Mets Hall of Fame available for some of the true Mets greats.

Now, there is admittedly a quagmire. While you can argue Koosman and Hernandez tweak the standard to impactful and great Mets who have won a World Series, Wright’s eventual number retirement will throw all of that out. What follows is really just chaos, and more importantly, a need for explanation on a number of players.

John Franco is the all-time leader in team history in saves, and he was the third team captain in history. You can argue his number should now be retired. If it should, do you double retire 31, or do you retire his 45? If you opt for 45, why not Tug McGraw too?

However, if you retire McGraw, do you then have to look at Armando Benitez, Jeurys Familia, and Jesse Orosco? All three have more saves and pitched on Mets pennant winning teams.

What happens to Edgardo Alfonzo? By WAR, Alfonzo is the Mets best middle infielder, and he ranks ahead of Hernandez in the rankings. He was part of the best infield in Major League history, was a clutch hitter, won a pennant, and he won the New York-Penn League championship as a manager.

Bud Harrelson was the first Met inducted into the team Hall of Fame, and he’s the only man to win a ring with the 1969 and 1986 teams. Howard Johnson was the first Met to have a 30/30 season, he’s the only Met to do it twice, and he was part of the 1986 Mets.

Of course, you have Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Both symbolize all that was great and went wrong with those 1980s teams. To this day, you could argue they’re also two of the most beloved Mets ever.

Everyone is going to have their line and opinion. Without clear standards, each and every one of these players will be slighted by not having their number retired. There are and will be more.

Yes, honoring Koosman and Hernandez is great. They deserve to be honored. It feels good to honor them.

What doesn’t sit right is all those who won’t get that honor now wondering why they haven’t.

MLBPA Should’ve Gone On Strike During 2021 Season

This baseball offseason is a bit of history. It marks the first time there is a labor shutdown of the sport because of a lockout and not because of a strike. The last time the players had actually gone on strike was during the 1994 season.

You could say much of that strike is still impacting the sport to this very day. The Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball, and they never had an opportunity to win the World Series. Instead, they would be stripped for parts, and eventually, they would be moved to Washington D.C.

The steroid era was also a fallout from that strike. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa went to heroes and saviors of the game to vilified. It’s telling that neither player has garnered the 75% required for Hall of Fame induction while we are about to see David Ortiz become a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Despite that strike and the fallout, the game has grown since that time. While that strike led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series, it did not mean the players wouldn’t use the strike as leverage in future negotiations. In fact, the players again used the threat during the 2002 season.

Make no mistake, nothing would have ever been as seen as so tone deaf as to striking after 9/11. No one, and I repeat no one, had any stomach for players striking over what was at least publicly portrayed as players being resistant to PED testing. All of the good will of the Mike Piazza homer, Bobby Valentine‘s work at Shea Stadium, and really what all of Major League Baseball did after the attacks would have been erased entirely.

However, the MLBPA used it as a tool because their main interest is bargaining for the best possible deal for their constituents. Certainly, the threat in 2002 came off as tone deaf, and perhaps, the players were bolstered by the way the game recovered post-1994. Regardless, the MLBPA did what they needed to do.

From there, MLB and the MLBPA had labor peace. There were four consecutive collective bargaining agreements reached before the threat of a strike or lockout was deemed necessary by either side. However, in all of that, there were two important agreements which were reached, which truly hamper the game and the negotiations to this day.

The first is the owners never relented on service time manipulation or the start of free agency. The second, and oft overlooked, is in the famed 2002 agreement. In that agreement, the CBA term end date was moved from October 31 to December. It has remained since, and it has had an impact on the leverage when it comes to strikes or lock outs.

Eventually, there was going to come a point and time where that date was going to prevent the players from considering a strike and for the owners of using the lockout tactic. That happens to be this offseason.

Of course, this is only part of it. There is Tony Clark‘s failures in previous negotiations, and there is also Rob Manfred’s tone deafness. Certainly, Manfred has shown a willful disregard for growing the game, and really, he only sees baseball as a zero sum game to get as much money for the owners as possible. After all, this is the same commissioner who took baseball out of communities and contracted minor league teams because minor leaguers had the gaul to ask for a living wage.

Now, we see Manfred and the owners not wanting to relent on service time manipulation or free agency. They have never done so, and now, they have stuck their feet firmly in the ground while this is actually the biggest issue for the players. The thing is the owners have all of the leverage right now.

WIth the lockout, the owners can skip revenue losers like Spring Training, and the first month of the season which typically has lower attendance. They can really hold out until the weather warms while many players who need money are without a paycheck. At some point, they may also use the tactic of using minor league players to start the season.

Of course, the players could have threatened a strike to co-opt some leverage. The postseason remains a massive profit for the owners, and threatening that could have gotten the players some leverage on their issues. Instead, Clark had them play the full season, the postseason, and right into the owner’s hands. It’s not the first time he’s done that, and it probably won’t be the last.

For the moment, all we can see is no baseball until the players capitulate. Twenty years ago, this never would have happened. The players would go so far as to miss out on the World Series to ensure that wouldn’t happen. Now, well, they don’t see to have the same leadership or will to fight they once had for what is best for them or the game.

Universal DH Coming Because Rob Manfred Is Clueless

It seems the only thing MLB and the MLBPA could agree upon is the universal DH. Of course the one thing they can agree upon is the one thing which does nothing to help baseball.

The DH will not increase fan interest. It will not correlate with higher ratings or ticket sales. We know that because the AL regularly trails the NL in ratings and attendance.

We will see no appreciable increase in offense. It was the case in 2019, and it was the case again in 2021. The NL averaged 4.46 runs/game, and the AL averaged 4.60. That’s 4-5 runs per game with or without a DH.

Pitchers also got injured pitching because that’s how pitchers get hurt. Sure, someone will bring up the extraordinarily rare example and make it out to be the case across every pitcher for every team.

In the end, the universal DH will not increase fan interest, runs/game, or limit pitcher injuries. However, it will anger and annoy a core of diehard fans who love baseball the way it should be played.

That makes this a typical Rob Manfred decision.

Jimmy Rollins Nowhere Close To Hall Of Fame Caliber

With all due respect to Jayson Stark of The Athletic, Jimmy Rollins isn’t close to being a Hall of Famer. While he seems to be on track to somehow crack the 5% to stay on the ballot, he shouldn’t stay on for long.

Rollins had a terrific career. In his 17 year career, he hit .264/.324/.418 with 511 doubles, 115 triples, 231 homers, and 936 RBI while stealing 470 bases.

On the advanced stat side, he had a 47.6 WAR, 95 OPS+, 95 wRC+, and a 50 DRS.

He was a three time All-Star, four time Gold Glover, and the 2007 NL MVP. He was also a member of the World Series winning 2008 Philadelphia Phillies.

Again, great career. It’s just not a Hall of Fame one.

The average Hall of Fame shortstop has a 67.7 WAR, 43.2 WAR7, and a 55.5 JAWS. Rollins had a 47.6 WAR, 32.7 WAR7, and a 40.1 JAWS.

Put another way, the entirety of his 17 year career was the equivalent of the seven peak seasons of a Hall of Fame shortstop. That’s how much his career lagged behind the standard.

Yes, there are factors which bolster his candidacy. He was a leader. He did have an MVP even if Albert Pujols (8.7 WAR) and David Wright (8.3 WAR) had far superior seasons. He also won a ring.

On that front, Rollins wasn’t a great postseason player. Over his 50 games played, he only hit .246/.308/.364. Out of the 11 postseason series he played in, he had an OPS higher than .624 three times.

No, a player’s career shouldn’t be discredited for postseason struggles. However, you can’t look to his postseasons as a reason to try to bolster his career.

Overall, Rollins had a great career. The Phillies should have him on their Wall of Fame, and he should be under consideration for having his number retired.

However, no matter how magnanimous he was, and no matter how much of a leader he might’ve been, his is a career which fell well short of Hall of Fame standards. It’s a shame because Rollins was as like-able, and hard working a player as they come.

Mets Who Wore 17 After Keith Hernandez

Since 1989, you would tune into the occasional New York Mets broadcast, and you would hear Howie Rose incredulous another Mets player wearing the number 17. With the New York Mets announcing Keith Hernandez‘s 17 will now be retired, we will be forever robbed of those moments, but we can look back at the players who wore the number after Hernandez left the Mets.

David Cone – Cone would change his number from 44 to 17 in honor of his teammate. It would be the number Cone wore when he led the league in strikeouts and tied Tom Seaver‘s then National League record of 19 strikeouts in a game.

Jeff McKnight – McKnight became the first player assigned the number after Hernandez wore it, and you could argue it was even more of an eyesore because it was the year the Mets had the underscore jerseys. Believe it or not, McKnight just had a knack for wearing great numbers. He would also wear David Wright‘s 5, Jose Reyes‘ 7, Carlos Beltran‘s 15, and Darryl Strawberry‘s 18.

Bret Saberhagen – Saberhagen changed from his usual 18 with the Kansas City Royals and the number he first had with the Mets after his good friend Cone was traded to the Toronto BLue Jays. While Saberhagen did have some success with the Mets, he was probably the player least suited to wearing the number after the bleach incident.

Brent MayneAgain with the former Royals wearing 17. Mayne’s first hit with the Mets was a walk-off RBI single off Dennis Eckersley to take the opening series of the season. Even after that, he still couldn’t get recognized on the 7 line on the way to the park.

Luis Lopez – Lopez was a utility player for the Mets for three years including the beloved team. His biggest hit with the Mets was the time he punched Rey Ordonez on the team bus. Hearkening back to the team photo incident between Hernandez and Darryl Strawberry, this may be the most Hernandez moment any of the subsequent players to wear the number 17 ever had.

Mike Bordick – Bordick was supposed to be the key pickup for the Mets to replace the injured Ordonez at short. He gave us all hope as he homered in his first Mets at-bat, but things would end badly as he would be benched for Kurt Abbott in the World Series, and he would return to the Baltimore Orioles in free agency. Worse yet, 1999 postseason hero Melvin Mora, who was traded for Bordick, would go on to be a star for the Orioles.

Kevin Appier – With Cone, Saberhagen, and then Appier, it seemed Royals pitchers really liked wearing 17 with the Mets. Appier came to the then pennant winning Mets in the hopes of winning a World Series, but unfortunately, he is forever known as the key piece sent to the Angels for Mo Vaughn.

Satoru KomiyamaThat Japanese Greg Maddux never was close to that spending one forgettable winless season with the Mets before returning to Japan.

Graeme LloydLloyd was one of the few who thrived with the Yankees who pitched well for the Mets. He didn’t last a full season as he and many of the 2003 Mets who battled under Art Howe was moved at the trade deadline.

Wilson DelgadoMets fans were thrilled to obtain Delgado in 2004 as he would be the return for Roger Cedeno. Delgado played 42 games for the Mets in 2004. He’d never appear in a Major League game after that.

Dae-Sung KooA largely forgettable LOOGY who will forever live in Mets lore for that impossible double off of Randy Johnson followed by that mad dash home from second on a Reyes’ bunt.

Jose LimaThe 2006 Mets pitching staff was so injured that we’d get Lima Time! for four starts. After struggling mightily, this marked the end of his MLB career as he then played internationally.

David NewhanThere really isn’t much to tell with Newhan. In his one year with the Mets, he proved himself to be that classic Four-A guy who annihilated Triple-A pitching but struggled in the majors.

Fernando TatisOmar Minaya first signed Tatís as an amateur and would bring him to the Mets organization. Tatís rewarded Minaya’s faith by winning the 2008 NL Comeback Player of the Year. For a franchise known for “what ifs,” you can’t help but wonder if the Mets don’t collapse for a second straight season if Tatis didn’t injure his shoulder. While Tatís had many memorable moments with the Mets, perhaps, his most memorable was his being one of the few actually capable of hitting it over the Great Wall of Flushing.

After Tatis, the Mets had finally said enough was enough. They were taking the number 17 out of circulation like they had done in the past with Willie Mays‘ 24. That meant the number was not going to be worn again. That is, unless, the next Rickey Henderson came long. However, now, with the number being officially retired, no one will ever wear Hernandez’s 17 again.


Keith Hernandez Mets Impact Second Only To Tom Seaver

The New York Mets made the announcement Keith Hernandez will have his number 17 retired during the 2022 season. After the Mets opted to break with tradition and retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36, there is no doubt it was Hernandez’s number which needed to be retired next.

Really, even if the Mets kept to the old standard, Hernandez’s number should have been retired eventually. When you break it down, Hernandez had a Hall of Fame worthy career. He was the best fielding first baseman of all-time, and he had a better career than first baseman already in the Hall of Fame. Chances are, Hernandez would go in the Hall of Fame with the Mets, but to be fair, that is probably wishful Mets fan thinking.

That said, the standards have changed. Now, it seems to be impact on the franchise. When you look at the Mets franchise as a whole, Tom Seaver undoubtedly had the biggest impact. After all, he was given the moniker The Franchise. He has been and always will be the best player in franchise history. After Seaver, there is no question Hernandez has had the biggest impact in franchise history.

It began in 1983. Hernandez was shockingly available, and Frank Cashen made a shrewd trade not just to obtain him but to give him a contract extension. There are many ways you can define his leadership and what he brought to the Mets. It could be the streak from 1984 – 1989 where they averaged 96 wins winning two division titles and the 1986 World Series. There are the five Gold Gloves, three All-Stars, three top 10 MVP finishes, and the Silver Slugger.

It was more than that. It was what the Mets players told you. They told you it was Hernandez who taught that young but extremely talented team how to win. He then showed them how to do it with his clutch hitting and otherworldly defense. It was the reason why he was named the first captain in Mets history. In many ways, it was Hernandez who ushered in and led the Mets to the greatest run in franchise history.

If that was all Hernandez did, you could make the case Hernandez had the second most impactful career in Mets history. However, Hernandez would prove to be more than that. Hernandez has become part of the beloved Gary, Keith, and Ron. Gary Cohen is the best in the business, and it was Darling whose terrific work which would lead to him getting national broadcasts. However, it is Hernandez who is the reason fans stay watching.

There are the guffaws and the adoration of players. He’s become the beloved uncle who comes into our homes on the SNY broadcasts. Really, dating back to when he was first acquired by the Mets, he has been the beloved uncle of the franchise. He’s been the adult in the room to show us all how things are done, and now, he is the one who has stuck around to tell us how great things are and used to be.

Overall, throughout the history of the Mets franchise, Hernandez has left an indelible mark. He was a great player and a great broadcaster. Much of what we know love about the Mets is all because of him. He deserves his number retired and far more than that.

Kyle Schwarber Could Be Game Changer For Mets

There are rumors the New York Mets may have interest in Kyle Schwarber. Given the construct of the Mets roster, it was certainly a name you did not expect to hear them connected to for this offseason.

Schwarber came up as a left fielder with the Chicago Cubs out of necessity. The thing is he’s terrible in the outfield. For the Mets, that’s not a big deal as they already have Mark Canha, Staling Marte, Jeff McNeil, and Brandon Nimmo.

After he was traded to the Boston Red Sox, he started playing some first base. That made sense given the fact that many assumed this is where he would eventually land. However, the Mets have Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith. Considering Schwarber was terrible there, that’s not exactly a disappointment.

Really, when looking at Schwarber, all he can do is hit. Man-o-man, can he hit.

Last year, Schwarber hit .266/.374/.554 with 19 doubles, 32 homers, and 71 RBI. He posted a 148 OPS+ and a 145 wRC+. Had he been on the Mets, that would have made him their best hitter. In fact, the last time the Mets had someone with an OPS+ that high over a full 162 game season was Nimmo in 2018. Before that, it was David Wright in 2013. Yes, it has been that long.

In some ways, it was a career best year, but in reality it was him living up to his full potential at the plate. On that note, he is still just 28 years old. His exit velocity, hard hit rate, and barrels are off the charts. His eye is superb too. Yes, there is swing and miss, but he either annihilates the ball or walks. It doesn’t matter who you have on your team, if there is a DH, you absolutely need a Schwarber on your team.

Now, that would create a logjam for the Mets. They are already saddled with the Robinson Cano conundrum. The DH could’ve afforded them the opportunity to have Smith play first with Alonso at first, a situation where we saw Smith come alive in 2020. They could’ve used it on a rotating basis with some older and injury prone players in their lineup. Really, there are a lot of things they could have opted to do.

However, you throw those plans out when you have Schwarber. It is also important to remember you can never have enough depth. We saw that with the Mets last season as the proverbial bench mob helped keep the Mets afloat. It should also be noted Schwarber also has the ability to at least stand at first or in left on a one game basis. That has enormous value as well.

Anyway you look at it, Schwarber is a difference changing bat the Mets could have in their lineup. If there is an NL DH, the Mets need to heavily pursue Schwarber to be that DH. He is just the perfect fit for this team, and he would take the Mets to another level offensively. With that, the Mets become that much closer to moving from legitimate World Series contender to World Series favorites.

Mets Bench Coach Search Isn’t A Concern

The New York Mets were on a hot streak. They hired Buck Showalter, and then they started filling out the coaching staff with some well respected candidates.

They quickly landed Joey Cora as the third base coach. Showalter confidant Wayne Kirby will coach first. Then, the Mets pried Eric Chavez away from the New York Yankees to be the hitting coach.

And then, nothing.

The Mets are looking for a bench coach, and they’re coming up dry. Andy Stankewicz will remain as the head coach of Grand Canyon University.

The San Diego Padres denied the Mets request to speak to Ryan Flaherty. The San Francisco Giants blocked the Mets request to interview Andrew Bailey. Jeff Pickler removed his name from consideration.

Suddenly, this search is becoming reminiscent of the Mets GM search. It was then a reminder of the beginning of the Mets offseason when Noah Syndergaard shockingly left the organization to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. Things were bad.

Out of that would eventually emerge Starling Marte and Max Scherzer. With that, the Mets suddenly changed the narrative about the direction of the franchise. Suddenly, the same old Mets became legitimate World Series contenders. It happens that fast.

At this point, the Mets keep striking out on bench coaches. That’s fine. There are still a number of qualified candidates out there, and the Mets will eventually get their guy. If they don’t, well, they still have Marte and Scherzer, so in the end, they will be more than fine.

Mara Still Better Than Wilpon

The New York Giants went from two Super Bowls with Eli Manning to becoming the worst franchise in the NFL. No one is worse than their 19-46 record over the last four years.

After firing Jerry Reese, the GM who won the last two mid-season, they let the Dave Gettleman retire on his own terms. As per usual, Gettleman didn’t make himself available for the press. That would require accountability, and he never wanted any part of that.

Then, Joe Judge, the head coach everyone wanted to see gone, kept his job. Even better, the man who quite possibly should’ve been fired tried to insert himself in the GM search.

Think this is bad? Think it can’t get worse? Well, then, you don’t remember the Wilpons.

The bygone owners of the New York Mets made the Maras recent stretch look Hall of Fame worthy.

The Maras weren’t inserting themselves in medical decisions. They haven’t been firing unwed pregnant women. Believe it or not, they’re actually trying to win.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s just so much incompetence and evil with the Wilpons. That’s not the case with the Maras. Right now, it’s incompetence fueled partially by loyalty.

The Giants are really bad right now. Perhaps, it’s the worst stretch in team history. There’s no light in the tunnel. However, on the bright side, they’re not the Wilpons, so maybe there’s some hops.

Sticks Out For Teddy . . . And Stricter Protective Gear Mandates

On January 6, 2022, high school sophomore Teddy Balkind suffered a fatal injury. During a collision, a skate sliced his neck causing him to bleed to death.

At this point, we don’t know if he was wearing a neck guard or not. What we do know is two things: (1) they’re designed to prevent tragedies like this one; and (2) they’re not mandated by USA Hockey.

The second point is a massive problem. When you don’t mandate it, you allow children (and sometimes parents) to get lax with pieces of safety equipment. Moreover, when you don’t introduce it and/or enforce it with young players, they become less inclined to wear it as they age.

It’s more than that. There needs to be appropriate minimum standards. If you’ve seen hockey necks guards, they run the gamut. There’s the it’s a neck guard to say you have a neck guard to actual Kevlar.

Governing bodies need to not only set standards, they need to lead studies. More than that, they need to inform.

Most parents are decades removed from playing the sport. That’s even if they played the sport. Parents are only guessing what’s the correct and most up to date equipment.

In addition to neck guards, there are hockey wrist guards too. In baseball, there are chest protector shirts, and former New York Mets LF Cliff Floyd introduced protective cap liners to the market.

There is equipment out there. However, most parents don’t know about it, and worse yet, it’s not mandated. All of this needs to change. Teddy shouldn’t have died, and we can’t sit around and wait for the next tragedy.