Best Mets Of All Time: No. 3 Curtis Granderson

Back in the day, we have talked about how Keith Hernandez was the player the Mets acquired who provided leadership to a young Mets team to help them fulfill their full potential and become World Series champions. To a certain extent, Curtis Granderson did the same thing for the 2015 Mets team.

Granderson made himself a friend to Mets fans everywhere by saying, “I’ve heard true New Yorkers are Mets fans.” He would do far more than that in his career to forever endear himself to Mets fans.

It wasn’t that way immediately as Granderson would struggle much in the same way many Mets players did in their first year with the Mets. There could be a number of reasons why that happened, including but not limited to the original cavernous configuration of Citi Field.

They fixed the ballpark in the offseason, and Granderson was more comfortable as a member of the Mets. That would show in his play on the field and in how much of a leadership role he would take. That leadership was needed in a season where David Wright left a void with his career altering injury.

Speaking of injuries, at times, Granderson seemed like the lone professional bat in the Mets lineup. The team had squandered an early season lead. It was basically Granderson and the starting pitching staff keeping the Mets afloat until the regulars got healthy, and Sandy Alderson brought in reinforcements.

In that 2015 season, Granderson led the Mets position players in WAR, and he was second in wRC+. He was also a finalist for the Gold Glove in right field. Looking at it, he was really doing everything the team needed from him. Not only did his contributions during the time the Mets were struggling to keep their head above water, so were his contributions in the stretch run.

While Yoenis Cespedes did receive much of the credit, Granderson had the second highest WAR and wRC+ on the team during that stretch where the Mets went from a pivotal series against the Nationals to winning the division by seven games.

Granderson was great in the NLDS against the Dodgers when they needed everything this team had to beat them. That included him having a five RBI game in Game 3. In Game 5, he led off the game with an infield single, and he scored from first on a Daniel Murphy double giving the Mets an early 1-0 lead in a game they’d eventually win 3-2.

Granderson had his best performance in the World Series, and in an alternate universe, he likely would’ve been the World Series MVP. That began with Game 1 where, if not for Alex Gordon hitting a two out homer against Jeurys Familia in the bottom of the ninth, he would’ve had a key home run which tied the game propelling the Mets to victory.

In that series, he would hit three homers, each of which would tie the game or give the Mets the lead. That includes his electrifying homer in Game 3, the only game the Mets won in that series:

Granderson helped lead the Mets that game like he did all season. He homered again in Game 5, and for a moment, it appeared like that was going to force a Game 6, but we know how it all ended.

In 2016, Granderson did not have the same impact, but he was once again an important player. By WAR, he was the team’s third best player. However, it was more than that. When the team needed him to move down the lineup to bat clean-up, he did. With Cespedes and Michael Conforto dealing with injuries, and the team adding Jay Bruce at the trade deadline, Granderson shifted to center field because that’s what the team needed him to do, and he did whatever the team needed. For a moment, he made a dazzling play in the Wild Card Game which, now, is very Endy Chavez-esque:

As we know, Granderson is much more than just a ballplayer. He won the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work during his time in New York. Actually, it was for all he had done in his career. He’s also won the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award four times, which is two more than anyone else in Major League history. Overall, he was such a good ballplayer and even better person that they should build a wing in the Hall of Fame for people like him.

When you look at players in Mets history who have worn the number 3, none have had a bigger impact on and off the field. If not for Babe Ruth, you might’ve been able to say that for all of baseball history.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Granderson was the third best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 3.

Previous

1. Mookie Wilson
2. Mackey Sasser

Simulated Recap: Mets Better With Conforto

In this simulated season, Michael Conforto was back in the lineup (remember when the worst thing that happened was his late Spring injury), and he homered. Between his play and Rick Porcello pitching seven strong, the Mets won 6-2.

As an added benefit, Edwin Diaz came into a pressure situation in the ninth to record the save.

2000 Game Recap: Mets Offense Still Doesn’t Know Season Began

Last year, the Mets torched Woody Williams in their three games against him. They hit .258/.355/.468 off of him, and they scored 15 runs off of him in 17.1 innings pitched. If ever there was a game for the Mets offense to wake up this year, it was going to be this one, and yet, Williams would shut out the Mets over his six innings pitched.

It wasn’t like the Mets had chances. The Mets had at least one on in five of the six innings Williams pitched, and they had a runner in scoring position in four of the six innings. Still, they couldn’t muster one run. The worst of it was in the fourth inning.

With the Mets already trailing 4-0, they loaded the bases with no outs. Even with Williams being wild on the mound walking consecutive batters, Rey Ordonez went up there hacking, and he popped up the first pitch. With the pitcher’s spot due up, again Bobby Valentine went to Jon Nunnally instead of Benny Agbayani, and Nunnally would strike out looking. Finally, Rickey Henderson grounded out to end the inning.

It wasn’t like this would be their last chance in the game. In the bottom of the eighth and facing Padres reliever Carlos Almanzar, Edgardo Alfonzo would hit a lead-off double. After a Mike Piazza ground out and a Robin Ventura walk, Derek Bell and Todd Zeile both struck out looking to end the rally.

While the Mets offense wasn’t taking advantage of opportunities, the Padres offense did just that against Bobby Jones. Jones actually entered this season as the fourth starter after an injury plagued 1999 season where he was left off the postseason roster. Unlike Octavio Dotel, he wasn’t even given an opportunity to prove his worth in what was a crowded and dominant bullpen.

Things did not get off to a good start for him in 2000. In the second inning, he broke the golden rule by walking Phil Nevin to start the inning. After an Eric Owens flyout, back-to-back doubles by Bret Boone and Ruben Rivera gave the Padres a 2-0 lead. That grew to 3-0 when Carlos Hernandez, who the Mets simply cannot get out right now, hit an RBI single.

In the third, the Padres would load the bases with two outs, Jones walked Boone to force in the fourth run of the game. At that point, Jones’ pitch count was already at 73, and Valentine was not about to let this game out of hand. He brought in his long reliever, Pat Mahomes, who got the Mets out of the jam.

If you’re looking for a silver lining in this game, it is the bullpen. Starting with Mahomes pitching 1.1 scoreless innings, the bullpen pitched 6.1 scoreless. That included Rich Rodriguez who did the yeoman’s work of pitching 3.0 innings.

So far, it is only the fourth game of the season, and it may be too early to panic. However, this is a Mets team who had a great offense last year, and now without John Olerud and Roger Cedeno, they are having some difficulty scoring runs. It also doesn’t help Henderson isn’t happy.

Still, the pitching and defense are still there, and as long as they are working well, we should have time for the Mets offense to wake up, as it usually does when we hit the summer months. Until then, the Mets have a favorable enough April schedule to allow this team to get into a groove.

Game Recap: The Mets used Nunnally, Jay Payton, Matt Franco, and Kurt Abbott off the bench. All signs right now are even with his grand slam, Agbayani will lay dormant until he is sent down for Glendon Rusch.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

Best Mets Of All Time: No. 2 Mackey Sasser

In Mets history, there have been a number of people who have worn the number 2, and to some extent it is an almost cursed number in team history. Perhaps that is a function of Marvelous Marv Throneberry being one of the first people to ever wear the uniform.

Over time, we would see many wear the number and fall far short of expectations. It was the number of Jim Fregosi. It was also the number of Dilson Herrera and Gavin Cecchini. It was also the number of Justin Turner who had better days after leaving the Mets.

Seeing all the number is and what is represents, perhaps Mackey Sasser is the best Mets player to ever to wear the number.

Knowing Gary Carter‘s days being a top catcher were going to be limited, the Mets were proactive, and they addressed the future of the position by obtaining Sasser from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the eve of the 1988 season. That would make Sasser the back-up catcher for the Mets last division title of the century.

That 1988 season was the worst of Carter’s career, and the Mets needed their back-up catcher to contribute more than in year’s past. That season he was an above-average offensive catcher. In fact, he was better than that with his having the sixth best wRC+ among National League catchers with at least 90 PA.

That was the case for his two year tenure as Carter’s back-up. It was Sasser’s play which allowed the Mets to feel comfortable making the very difficult decision in releasing Carter at the end of the year to hand the reigns to Sasser. In 1990, Sasser would reward the Mets faith in him.

In 1990, Sasser would play a career high 100 games that season, and he would catch a career high 87 games. During that season, he would do what had been previously impossible by becoming the first Mets catcher to throw out Vince Coleman attempting to steal a base.

Up until that time, Coleman was a perfect 57/57 in stolen base attempts against his future team. Aside from the throwing highlight, Sasser proved his offense could withstand a heavier defensive workload with his being now the fifth best offensive catcher in baseball. Unfortunately, this season would be it for Sasser behind the plate.

The beginning of the end came on July 8, 1990. In that game against the Atlanta Braves, Sasser was already 2-for-3 at the plate raising his season stats to .336/.381/.455. In the game, Jim Presley ran over Sasser at the plate. Sasser would get the out (he was quite adept at the tag), but he would depart the game with a badly sprained ankle.

From there, Mackey Sasser Disease, the cousin of Steve Blass Disease was born. Sasser would soon begin having issues throwing the ball back to the catcher. This effectively ended his career even with the Mets keeping him around a few more years as a backup and utility player.

That would not be the end of Sasser’s impact upon baseball or the Mets. As it turns out, Sasser wanted answers to why he had the yips. He would seek them out, and as he said to Anthony McCarron then of the New York Daily News, he got that help from Dr. David Grand.

With that help, he was able to successfully be able to throw the ball again, and he would not have issues doing things like throwing batting practice. That would partially help him have a coaching career. In that coaching career, he would again help the New York Mets.

During his coaching career, Sasser would find himself coaching a young infielder named T.J. Rivera at Troy University. When Rivera was undrafted, Sasser called to the Mets and recommended the team sign him. This would eventually lead to Rivera becoming the team’s everyday second baseman in September 2016 and helping that Mets team claim the top Wild Card spot.

More than that, Sasser has made himself available to help those players who have had potentially career altering yips the way he once did. That included calling up Mike Pelfrey when the young right-hander was experiencing issues with balks.

Overall, Sasser not only helped the Mets as a player, but he did what he could do to help the organization after his playing career was over. As we saw, he did hit part to help save Pelfrey’s career, and he helped launch Rivera’s. Even with Turner having his moments and Juan Uribe becoming an instant Mets folk hero, it is difficult to argue any Mets player who wore the number 2 having a bigger impact on the franchise than he.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Sasser was the second best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 2.

Previous

1. Mookie Wilson

Simulated Recap: Mets Lose In Early 2019 Fashion

These simulated games are getting painful to watch, and they’re just reminding you of the worst of Mets baseball for the past few years. This game was no exception.

If you can stomach to watch the Mets blow this one, more power to you. If you don’t want to do that to yourself, it can be summarized easily.

Dellin Betances gave away some of the lead. Edwin Diaz blew the save. Juan Soto hit a walk-off two run homer off Brad Brach in the 12th. The Virtual 2020 Mets are now 1-7.

On the bright side, this is just for fun and doesn’t really count. If you want a more optimistic look at what could’ve been, over at Baseball Reference, using an OOTP simulation, this team is 4-4.

Best Mets Of All-Time: No. 1 Mookie Wilson

With COVID19, we don’t get baseball. Instead, we have memories of baseball. Our favorite games, moments, and players. Each team has their own legends who are mostly remembered for their own contributions. In an effort to recognize that, we are going to run down the greatest players in Mets history by going through the uniform numbers.

We begin at number 1, which in Mets history has become synonymous with Mookie Wilson.

The best stretch in Mets history began with him because on September 2, 1980, he batted lead-off and played center field for the Mets. In that game, Wally Backman was also in the line-up, and with that the first two members of the 1986 World Series champion roster were in place.

Much like the Mets as a franchise, Mookie had to fight for everything he got as he was constantly being challenged for playing time. In 1986, that came in the form of Lenny Dykstra, who had a great rookie season. Mookie would eventually force his way into the lineup taking over left from the released George Foster.

That situation became all the more complicated in the subsequent offseason when the Mets obtained Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin Mitchell and prospects. Through this time, he would have to platoon, and he would be frustrated by the process seeking a trade at one point. Still, through it all, he remained a Met.

In fact, Mookie was one of the longest tenured Mets in history. When he was finally traded in 1989 to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the longest tenured Met on the team. He was also the longest tenured Met when they won the World Series in 1986. In fact, when he departed, only Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones had played more games than him.

Over his 10 years with the Mets, he was the team’s all-time leader in triples and stolen bases. He was also third in runs and doubles. Really, at that point in Mets history, he was top 5-10 in most offensive categories. This shows how much of an impactful player he was for the franchise. That was perhaps best exhibited in his having the single greatest at-bat in team history:

In that at-bat, Mookie battled like few others we have seen in baseball history. Despite falling down 0-2 against Bob Stanley with the next strike ending the World Series, Wilson would take two pitches evening up the count at 2-2 before fouling off two pitches. The next pitch was the wild pitch.

Looking back at it, it was incredible he got out of the way of the pitch. His getting out of the way of the pitch allowed Mitchell to score from third and to permit Ray Knight to get into scoring position. He then fouled off another pitch before hitting the ball between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In that moment, the Mets made one of the greatest comebacks not just in baseball but sports history.

Mookie’s Mets contribution did not end there. He’d return to the franchise as a first base coach working on Bobby Valentine‘s staffs. On that note, he’d be standing in the first base coaches’ box during Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. That means Wilson was there up the first base line for two of the most improbable postseason comebacks with the Mets facing elimination.

Mookie is also the father of Preston Wilson, the former Mets prospect who was one of the headliners headed to the Miami Marlins for Mike Piazza. This only speaks to everything Mookie was. He was much more than the baseball player who got married at home plate in the minor leagues. He has been a good man and eventually became an ordained minister.

Through and through, Mookie is Mets baseball. He is an important figure in team history, and he is certainly the best ever player to wear the No. 1 in team history.

K’Andre Miller Deserves Better

In an effort for fans to get to know K’Andre Miller better, the New York Rangers had a Zoom chat where the defense prospect could answer questions. That is what it was supposed to be. It became something so much worse.

Instead, racist(s) filled the chat with racial epithets which should never be uttered let alone repeated. If you want to see it, you can click the link, but be warned it’s beyond offensive.

This has been described by some as Zoombombing. That’s not it. Racism is racism. To call it anything else is inadvertently downplaying it.

Miller did nothing to deserve this. Frankly, it’s impossible to think of anything anyone could do to deserve it. It wasn’t just Miller. Anyone who was there didn’t deserve to see the viciousness of the words or the attack.

How this was allowed to happen and why this account wasn’t immediately shut down is anyone’s guess. The response to this was not as swift as you would’ve liked, but that could be attributable to COVID19. Whatever the case, people forcefully stepped up to denounce the actions and to support Miller.

This is nowhere near the level of support Miller has received. By and large, everyone has joined in denouncing the racist garbage and in supporting someone who is just a 20 year old defenseman sitting home just like the rest of us.

He just finished his Junior season at the University of Wisconsin, and he was supposed to be embarking on a great NHL career. Instead, he had to deal with something beyond all bounds of human decency.

Fortunately, Rangers fans and players were quick to support him just as they will when he first steps on the Garden Ice. Hopefully, soon he will know Rangers fans will not stand for racism, and that we all love those players who wear the blue shirts.

Miller deserves better than the treatment jr received. Once hockey returns, he will get that better treatment from Rangers fans who will give him the outpouring of love and support he should’ve received today.

2000 Game Recap: Derek Answers The Bell

It is a good thing the Mets left Al Leiter home to prepare for this Shea Stadium Opening Day start because it appeared the Mets bats were jet-lagged from their trip home from Japan. That may be a bit of a misnomer because aside from the Benny Agbayani Sayonara Slam, the Mets offense has not been the dynamic offense it was last year.

Leiter was great for the Mets against a good Padres lineup which includes future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn and Phil Nevin, who was actually drafted ahead of Derek Jeter and had a breakout season last year. Nevin aside, Leiter dominated this lineup allowing just five hits over eight one run innings where he walked none and struck out seven.

The problem for Leiter and the Mets was not only Sterling Hitchcock matching him pitch-for-pitch, but the Padres had a 1-0 lead entering the seventh due to Nevin’s second inning homer off of Leiter. Entering that seventh inning, the Mets had just two hits, and just one runner in scoring position.

Finally, Hitchcock made a mistake issuing a lead-off walk to Edgardo Alfonzo. Mike Piazza followed with a single putting runners on the corners with no outs. That’s when Todd Zeile had his first big moment as a Met delivering a game tying sacrifice fly.

The Mets then squandered their chance to take the lead. After Zeile’s sacrifice fly, Hitchcock hit Robin Ventura, and the Padres went to the bullpen to summon Donne Wall. He responded by striking out Darryl Hamilton and Rey Ordonez to get out of the jam.

Like Hitchcock, Wall looked unhittable. After striking out Hamilton and Ordonez, he would come out for the eighth, and he would get Jon Nunnally to pop out before striking out Rickey Henderson. As an aside, it is really bizarre Bobby Valentine would go with Nunnally to pinch hit for Leiter.

Nunnally has not been good for two years running. While there is a case to be made for the L/R split, last year Nunnally hit .286/.286/.357 off right-handed pitchers last year whereas Agbayani hit .279/.347/.512 off of them last year. Throw in his grand slam in Japan, and you have to wonder why he didn’t come to the plate.

Fortunately, it didn’t matter. Just like when Zeile had his first big Mets moment, Derek Bell would have his own with a go-ahead game winning homer off of Wall. Armando Benitez, in his first year as the Mets full-time closer picked up where he left off last year by mowing down the Padres in the ninth.

We can harp on things like the Mets offense not appearing through three games this year. However, behind that has been some really good pitching and two wins. If the Mets keep playing like that, this is a team who can fulfill the World Series aspirations we have for them.

Game Notes: After experimenting with Hamilton batting second in Japan, Valentine put Bell in his comfortable second hole in the lineup from his Astros days. That could be a function of the left-handed pitcher going.

Editor’s Note: With there being no games to begin the season, this site will follow the 2000 season and post recaps as if those games happened in real time. If nothing else, it is better to remember this pennant winning season and revisit some of the overlooked games than it is to dwell on the complete lack of baseball.

John Minko’s Last Show

We have already seen a number of WFAN hosts be temporarily put off the air with the regular weekday hosts carrying the full load. To that end, we maybe should have anticipated more cutbacks at WFAN and other stations. However, when you thought of those people who could or would go, you really never thought that would include John Minko.

Minko, or the Mink Man, has been there since the beginning. Actually, he was there before the beginning doing work for the station prior to its official debut. Through that time, we have come to hear him on almost every WFAN show, and he became somewhat of a personality.

Through and through, he was a professional with his 20/20 updates, and he put up with the ribbing, mostly good-natured, from everyone across the spectrum and timeline from Mike & The Mad Dog to Craig Carton. Through all of it, he outlasted them all. Still, you knew the end was coming from him at some point.

It was less than a year ago, he told Evan Roberts he planned to retire over the course of the next year. Minko, himself, noted July 1 as a potential date as that would mark the 33rd year of the radio station. He did not see himself starting a 34th year. Still, his retirement now comes as a bit of a surprise.

On that note, he told Neil Best of Newsday he took the buyout now to help save other WFAN staffers, saying, “I thought that if I took it now, which was the right thing to do, if that prevented somebody else from getting fired, then I thanked Rick.”

As noted in Best’s Newsday article, Rick is an old WFAN executive name Rick Cummings who saved Minko’s job in the early days of the station. Upon saving his job, Cummings said the best way for Minko to repay his kindness is to one day pay it forward, which Minko just did.

Minko’s final shift begins at 11:00 A.M. (the time this article is being published), and it will run through 5:00 P.M. To that end, he has already finished his final shift with Mike Francesa as well as a whole other host of WFAN personalities. That leaves him and Joe Beningo as the old guard with Beningo being the one who gets to say good-bye on his own show.

We will all get to say good-bye in our own way from afar listening on the radio. That’s all we can do, and honestly, even in these strange times, it was all we could ever do, so in that, there is a bit of normalcy in this. Still, nothing will ever feel normal about listening to WFAN without Minko doing the updates.

The good news is he was already planning for this day, and he is getting the recognition he has long deserved. Congratulations on a great career Minko and for being the standard bearer for how it is done.

Trivia Friday: 2020 Mets Drafted After 5th Round

With Rob Manfred’s taking advantage of a global pandemic to implement his plan to contract 42 minor league teams and eliminate opportunities for minor league players, the 2020 draft will be limited to five rounds. With that, many teams are going to miss out on drafting the next great player.

For that, we need not look any further than Mike Piazza who was a 62nd round draft pick. However, it is more than that. A significant portion of this year’s Mets team was drafted after the fifth round. Can you name those players? Good luck!


Jacob Rhame Dellin Betances Tomas Nido Jacob deGrom Luis Guillorme Paul Sewald Tyler Bashlor Jeff McNeil Robert Gsellman Seth Lugo Daniel Zamora Brad Brach