September 30, 2007 was a devastating day for Mets fans.
Tom Glavine had the worst start of his professional career in a spot where he and the Mets could not afford it.
After seven earned in 0.1 innings and the hopes of a comeback dashed when Ramon Castro‘s potential grand slam in the bottom of the first turned into an inning ending fly out the Mets chances of winning the World Series were officially dashed.
Glavine may not have been devastated, but Mets fans who thought this was the year were. The Yadier Molina homer was still fresh in our minds, and Mookie Wilson‘s little roller was become a fleeting memory.
Back in 2007, I was a Mets and Giants season ticket holder. That meant after seeing one of the most devastating Mets loss I’ve ever seen in my life, I made the trek to Giants Stadium to watch the Giants play the Eagles.
If you think seeing the Mets lose that game was bad enough, imagine hearing the taunts of Phillies/Eagles fans during the tailgates and up until the National Anthem. The Phillies had made a historic comeback, and the Eagles were the defending NFC East champions coming off a 56-21 victory over the Lions.
To say the Eagles/Phillies fans were feeling themselves is quite the understatement.
They’d soon be quiet as the Giants sacked Donovan McNabb an NFL record 12 times. In that game, Eli was pedestrian, but he did what he needed to do to win that game.
For a Mets/Giants fan, it was as cathartic an experience as there was. It was also a prelude to bigger and better things.
Heading into 2007, it was the Mets who were supposed to win a World Series, but it was Eli Manning and the Giants who did it. Whereas the Mets made history by losing, Eli Manning and the Giants stopped history from being made by winning.
From 2007 on, Mets fans mostly knew pain and missed opportunities. Our lone bright spot for many years, David Wright, had his career end early robbing his Hall of Fame chances because of spinal stenosis. And yet, Eli was there. He was always there.
In what was the worst decade in New York sports history, Eli and the Giants were the only ones who could deliver a championship. If not for him, there would be a whole host of New York sports fans whose only experience seeing a team win a title would be the Yankees.
Through it all, Eli led the most improvable of title runs, and it happened at a time when New York Mets fans needed it most. We needed something to ease the pain of 2006 and 2007. For that alone, as a Mets fan I love Eli Manning.
As a Giants fan, Eli Manning means more than any other player in Giants history. In fact, because he’s the one who has delivered championships, to me, he’s been the most important New York player in my lifetime.
His eventual Hall of Fame induction is going to be as emotional as Mike Piazza‘s. Until then and well beyond, we have the fondest of memories from Eli Manning’s career.
Congratulations to Eli for a great career, and thank you for the ride.
Today, the Mets are introducing Luis Rojas as the newest manager of the New York Mets. It’s going to be a complete afterthought because it is also the day Eli Manning is formally announcing his retirement.
It is a shame for Rojas, who worked his entire life to reach this point only to have it completely overshadowed by a legend. To a certain extent, being the son of Felipe Alou, the brother of Moises Alou, and the cousin of Mel Rojas, he’s accustomed to it.
The same could be said about Eli. After all, he is the son of Archie Manning and younger brother of Peyton Manning. Eli rose above it and built his own Hall of Fame career, and in what is a historically crowded New York landscape, he is one of the true legends.
Eli arguably is part of the greatest play in NFL history with the “Helmet Catch,” and a few years later, he arguably threw the greatest pass to Manningham. Both took increased importance not just because they happened in the Super Bowl, but also because it took out a Patriots dynasty.
There’s so much more to his great Hall of Fame career, and anything Eli does is automatically the biggest story in New York. In fact, it’s even bigger news right now than Derek Jeter being voted into the Hall of Fame.
This day and his level of fame and accompanying adoration may not have been contemplated when Eli was a kid or even when he was the first overall pick in the draft. And yet, today he outshines them all.
That’s certainly instructive for Rojas. The Mets might’ve overlooked him when they hired Carlos Beltran. Everyone is going to overlook him today.
But make no mistake, if Rojas is a big winner in New York, he’s going to be a legend, and no one will be overlooking him no matter how crowded the New York landscape is.
Today is about Eli, and he both deserves this day and the adoration of Giants fans. Tomorrow and the next is up for grabs. For the Mets sake, let’s hope Rojas inserts himself into the discussion and is one day overshadowing a future New York great.
Lost in the shuffle of Derek Jeter falling one vote short of a unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame is the Colorado Rockies having their first ever player being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
This leaves just the Tampa Bay Rays and the Florida Marlins as the only teams without a Hall of Famer. The next player inducted for those teams will be their first.
Can you name the first Hall of Famer inducted for the other 28 teams? Good luck!
Babe Ruth Jimmy Collins George Sisler Roberto Alomar Tris Speaker Nap Lajoie Eddie Collins Ty Cobb Walter Johnston George Brett Eddie Plank Rube Waddell Nolan Ryan Vladimir Guerrero Tom Seaver Craig Biggio Hugh Duffy Grover Cleveland Alexander Gary Carter Rogers Hornsby Cap Anson edd Roush Robin Yount Christy Mathewson Dave Winfield Larry Walker Willie Keeler Randy Johnson
Seeing the reactions to the Mets hiring of Luis Rojas, you think people have confused the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s anthem to be, “If you can’t make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
From Keith Hernandez to other media members, Rojas was met with skepticism because he’s never managed at the Major League level. We see responses this job required a veteran manager, as we saw with many, like ESPN‘s Chris Carlin, “This isn’t supposed to be the place where you learn.”
Even with Carlin taking a beating from Mets players like Pete Alonso and Marcus Stroman for his criticisms of Rojas, it’s fair to say Carlin wasn’t alone in that position. Overall, there is a prevailing notion New York is not a place where you can hire a new manager or coach and expect him to succeed.
This is complete and utter nonsense, and there are plenty of examples which prove it.
In 1984, the Mets hired Davey Johnson to be their manager. He had a similar managerial background to Rojas, and he would also usher in the greatest stretch in Mets history.
In 1995, after Pat Riley resigned from the Knicks, the team moved quickly to hire Don Nelson, who was about as poor a fit as you could have for the Knicks roster. He was replaced by Jeff Van Gundy, who proved to be one of the best head coaches in Knicks history.
The New York Giants had success and went to a Super Bowl under Jim Fassel, who had no previous head coaching experience, and the team flopped under Pat Shurmur, who had previous head coaching experience with the Cleveland Browns.
Obviously, there are examples in the reverse.
Bobby Valentine was a terrific manager for the Mets. Tom Coughlin won two Super Bowls with the Giants. John Tortorella brought the New York Rangers back to prominence.
Therein lies the point.
New York isn’t just a tough place to play or manage. It is a place which demands the best. Somehow along the way, people have misinterpreted that to say you need people who have failed elsewhere.
Both Baker and Showalter are justifiably respected baseball men. They’ve developed players and in many instances outperformed expectations in each and every stop. If you hire either one of them, you’re in very good hands, and you’re lucky to have them.
One thing with both of them is they’ve yet to win a World Series. You don’t hear that now, but it’s something you’ll hear if the Mets are fortunate enough to be in the postseason.
The point there is narratives shift and emerge as fit. If Dusty or Buck came to the Mets and won, they’d be a great story about finally winning. If they didn’t win, we’d hear how neither can win the big one, and the Mets need to move on from a manager who lifted Russ Ortiz too soon or one who didn’t use Zack Britton.
Even the best of managers available have their flaws. Ultimately, that’s why they’re available. The best any team can do, be it a New York team or a team anywhere else, is look at the candidates and make the best decision possible.
That can be someone like Buck or Dusty, and it can be someone like Rojas. For the Mets, they rightfully opted on the manager who knows this team inside and out, has their respect, and has shown he can get the most out of their talent. This is very similar to when the Mets hired Davey Johnson, who was not a retread, but rather, a first time Major League manager.
Ultimately, with Johnson, Parcells, Coughlin, and Van Gundy, and everyone else who has passed through this city, we’ve learned the only qualifications which matter for a manager or head coach is who is the most talented and who is the best fit for the roster.
Any other consideration is just noise, and oft times results in a mistake.
Rojas has been a minor league manager in the Mets system for seven years, and he was the quality control manager this past season. He has the respect of everyone in the organization, the deepest of roots in the game, and he has had a hand in the success of the core of this Mets roster.
He’s also managed prospects like Andres Gimenez who could debut this upcoming season. Overall, this speaks not just to Rojas’ knowledge of the personnel, but also his ability to get the most out of these players.
This is why it’s being widely reported this is a very popular hire in the Mets clubhouse. It should be a popular hire with everyone.
This is a manager from the Alou family tree. That’s important with his father Felipe Alou being a longtime manager, and his brother, Moises Alou, having played for the Mets. With them, he not only had someone to lean on in terms of managing a team, but also, on the unique challenges of New York. Of course, Rojas can lean on his own experiences for that as well.
As the Quality Control Coach, he’s well versed in analytics, and he’s had communication with the front office about using them, and also, what the front office expectations are. He’s also spent the past year further developing and strengthening relations with everyone in the clubhouse, and really, the entire organization.
Lost in the shuffle last year was Rojas working with McNeil to become an everyday outfielder. In 2019, McNeil was an All-Star, and he had a 2 DRS in the outfield.
When you break it down, this is a hard working individual who is able to get the most out of the players on this team. With his being bilingual, he can talk baseball in any language. No matter what angle you look at this from, Rojas was the perfect hire for this team. That goes double when you consider he’s one of the few holdovers from Callaway’s staff at a time the Mets desperately need some continuity.
Overall, the Mets took a terrible situation, and they made the most of it hiring the person who very likely should have been hired in November. Rojas is the best man for this job, and the 2020 Mets will be better for having him at the helm.
Recently, Mets employee Jessica Mendoza and Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez publicly criticized Mike Fiers for telling The Athletic about the Houston Astros illegal sign stealing program. His speaking to The Athletic led to a Major League investigation and penalties being levied upon the Astros.
According to Fiers, he went public because he wanted “the game to be cleaned up a little bit because there are guys who are losing their jobs because they’re going in there not knowing.” As a result, knowing what he knew, he would tell his teammates on the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics about it, so they could be prepared.
What is interesting is whatever he personally did wasn’t working. Since leaving the Astros, Fiers has made four starts against the team in Minute Maid Park. In those four starts, he has only pitched 16.1 innings, and he has a 11.02 ERA with the Astros hitting .397/.440/.731 against him.
That included the Astros roughing him up for nine runs in 1.0+ innings in a September start. At the time the Athletics were in a dog fight for one of the two Wild Card spots. While the Athletics did capture one of the two spots, Fiers was left off the postseason roster. It’s very likely Fiers had had enough.
Notably, Fiers said he has strained relationships with his former Astros teammates because he shared the information to his new teammates. As discussed above, he also caught the ire of Mendoza and Martinez.
Mendoza said, “It was a player that was a part of it, that benefited from it during the regular season when he was a part of that team. That, when I first heard about it, it hits you like any teammate would. It’s something that you don’t do. I totally get telling your future teammates, helping them win, letting people know, but to go public with it and call them out and start all of this, it’s hard to swallow.” (ESPN).
Martinez echoed similar statements saying, “If you have integrity you find ways to tell everybody in the clubhouse, ‘Hey, we might get in trouble for this. I don’t want to be part of this.’ You call your GM. You tell him. Or you call anybody you can or MLB or someone and say, ‘I don’t want to be part of this.’ Or you tell the team, ‘Get me out of here, I don’t want to be part of this.’ Then you show me something. But if you leave Houston and most likely you didn’t agree with Houston when you left and then you go and drop the entire team under the bus I don’t trust you. I won’t trust you because did have that rule.” (WEEI).
At the core of what Mendoza and Martinez is saying is there are ways to do this, and Fiers did it the wrong way. Honestly, Mendoza and Martinez have completely missed the point.
Both have painted a picture of Fiers as a bad teammate who violated clubhouse rules by going public. However, they fail to speak on how the Astros were bad teammates for employing the system against him.
They wanted Fiers to work through this internally while ignoring the fact the Astros knew what was transpiring.
The Statement of the Commissioner found the General Manager Jeff Luhnow, “had some knowledge of these efforts, but he did not give it much attention. It also found AJ Hinch “did not stop it and he did not notify players or Cora that he disapproved of it, even after the Red Sox were disciplined in September 2017.”
As we see Fiers going internal was pointless as the Astros were aware of it, and they did it anyway. Parenthetically, this also assumes Fiers didn’t voice his concerns internally. But really, who cares? At the end of the day, top to bottom, the entire organization was in on this.
There’s another point to be made with the Red Sox discipline in September 2017.
This was much more widespread than anyone knew. As we’ve since discovered even with Major League Baseball issuing a penalty and directive, the Astros continued to cheat, and in the ensuing season, the Red Sox cheated again.
Also, to this point, we’ve yet to see Major League Baseball commission an investigation on par with the Mitchell Report. The Mitchell Report is instructive here because it was prompted by Jose Canseco‘s book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big” as well as Mark Fainaru-Wada’s and Lance Williams’ book “Game of Shadows: Barry Bonds, BALCO, and the Steroids Scandal that Rocked Professional Sports.”
The efforts to clean up the game were prompted by speaking outside the clubhouse. Supposedly, these are efforts Martinez now applauds even though he was a beneficiary of prior cheating scandals with his being teammates with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz on the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
One other point on the 2017 Red Sox punishment is it was private, and there was no further investigation into the 29 other teams. Had that occurred baseball likely would have caught the Astros in 2017, 2018, and the cheating which has happened since that MLB disavows happening.
As an aside, we haven’t heard Mendoza or Martinez speak out about how the current Astros players were all too willing to place the blame on Carlos Beltran and Cora. Apparently, they’re aghast at speaking out publicly, but apparently ratting out people who left to save your own hide and reputation is not worth criticism.
Like it or not, as we’ve seen with baseball’s handling of this and other scandals, we needed Fiers to go public. While you can fairly point out Fiers didn’t go public when he was winning a World Series, criticizing him for going public is plain wrong because his going public has ultimately helped the game.
More than that, after dealing with this issue internally with three organizations for three years, and nothing having come of it, Fiers finally did what had to be done. He went public.
In the end, if you want to criticize anyone for that, blame Rob Manfred and the front offices of the Astros, Tigers, and Athletics because it was their relative inaction which led to this.
If you’ve been to Cooperstown, you’ve assuredly seen the plaques of the players inducted into the Hall of Fame. When you look at them, you’ll see how they’re arranged – chronologically.
Seaver isn’t also kept in a different area than Mike Piazza, Joe DiMaggio, or any other player who was not a first ballot Hall of Famer. No, Hall of Famers are all the same spot, and as noted above, their plaques are only sorted chronologically.
In the end, that’s why it doesn’t matter that one voter withheld a vote from Derek Jeter.
Jeter being unanimous would have been an interesting footnote albeit one which is not mentioned on a Hall of Fame plaque. You could also be a positive step towards stepping away from this first ballot Hall of Famer nonsense.
To that point, it’s quite fitting Jeter’s plaque will be next to Larry Walker‘s. For his part, Walker was elected on his final year on the ballot, and he cleared the 75% hurdle by just six votes.
As an aside, Jeter falling one vote shy could be reason for a renewed call for public voting. After all, if you feel that strong about bucking the general consensus, you should state your case. No, not explain yourself, but let us know what we’re all missing.
More to that point, writers demand accountability from players, and when a player ducks the press, we hear about it, and that player is chastised. The same people who do that should be accountable when it is their turn.
However, that’s besides the point. Whether Jeter was one vote short of being unanimous or his having 90 fewer votes, the end result is the same.
Jeter is a Hall of Famer just like Walker, and when all is said and done, that’s all that matters.
How can it be the New York Mets still have not named a replacement for Carlos Beltran?
Keep in mind, the Mets are in a completely different situation here than than the Houston Astros and the Boston Red Sox.
The Astros knew the hammer was going to come down from Major League Baseball, but they presumably did not know or could be quite sure they’d lose AJ Hinch for the year.
Seeing the rulings, the Astros moved quickly, and they fired Hinch to not just attempt to turn the page on the scandal, but to also figure out who was going to be their manager in 2020 and beyond.
The Red Sox seeing Alex Cora‘s level of involvement and knowing he was likely going to face harsher penalties than Hinch fired Cora the day after the report, and they immediately began their search for a new manager.
The Mets waited a few days, and they yielded to what was really a vocal demand from a minority to fire Beltran. Keep in mind, the Mets fired Beltran despite his not being suspended for the 2020 season.
The Astros and Red Sox knew they were going to be without their managers, and they acted accordingly. The Mets did something they did not have to do, and worse yet, they didn’t have a replacement immediately in mind.
Consider, unlike the Astros and Red Sox, the Mets had undertaken a search this offseason to hire a new manager to replace Mickey Callaway.
The Mets know or should know who can be a manager of the Mets. They also know or should know who could handle this situation. And yes, with this being New York and the Mets, this is something which should have been contemplated.
Herein lies the problem.
They’re also not going back into their candidate pool. Eduardo Perez was one of the finalists, and he has not been contacted again. The Milwaukee Brewers see their bench coach Pat Murphy as an ideal fit, but the Mets aren’t repursuing him.
After reading Mike Puma’s report in the New York Post, the Mets are essentially paralyzed “as team executives try to deduce the best way to please the prospective new boss.”
While the Mets are scared about what Cohen will think about a new hire, they’ve failed to realize he’s watching them fumbling through this process.
Like all of us, Cohen sees the Mets being completely reactionary and not remotely proactive in their handling of Beltran. We all see the Mets fire Beltran without a plan in place.
The Mets could’ve fired Beltran, and they could’ve held up Rojas as their new manager showing us all their complete faith in him. We could’ve heard why DeFrancesco has the skills to lead the Mets starting in 2020. We could’ve heard about Meulen’s championship pedigree, and why they knew in the short time he’s been with the organization why he was the man for the job.
Of course, that’s not happening because the Mets fired Beltran without a plan. In fact, they fired him without having a clue what direction they’d like to go. The only thing they knew was Cohen was lurking on the horizon, and he was judging them.
When you break it all down, Brodie Van Wagenen’s and Jeff Wilpon’s entire handling of this situation has been inept, and with each passing day, they’re showing Cohen and the whole baseball world, they should not be entrusted with running a baseball organization.
If the Mets really want to flip the script and get people excited about this team, perhaps they should make a bold and daring decision when hiring a manager to replace Carlos Beltran.
With Baker and Showalter, you’re getting a manager who is a name which should drive up some excitement with Mets fans. They’re also established managers with a very good track record of success. More than that, they’re respected throughout the game.
Mostly, with Baker or Showalter, you get instant credibility. Of course, they’re also older managers, especially Baker, so they’re presumably very short term fixes. Although, Showalter could presumably be around longer.
In the end, if the Mets are going to go the route of a short-term fix who will excite the fanbase and give the team some instant credibility, why don’t they see if Davey Johnson would like to return to manage the Mets in 2020?
Johnson has the most wins as a manager in Mets history (595), and his .588 winning percentage remains the best all-time. To put into perspective of how dominant a run he and the Mets had in the 1980s, that winning percentage equates to a 95 win team, which unlike the 1980s all but ensures a postseason berth.
No, hiring Johnson doesn’t guarantee 95 wins. However, it speaks to what Johnson did with extremely talented Mets teams. The 2020 Mets could be one of those teams with Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Brandon Nimmo, Amed Rosario, and Noah Syndergaard.
Johnson is also no stranger to handling intense media scrutiny during a season. After all, he was the Mets manager when Keith Hernandez was dealing with the drug trials, and Dwight Gooden was suspended for cocaine.
No, Davey wasn’t perfect, but he was good. For his faults, he was a players manager who has always been open to using data and analytics to make the best decisions possible. As evidenced by Bryce Harper speaking well of him, even at his age, he’s been able to reach the modern player.
When you look at it, it’s Johnson’s age which could be the biggest impediment. Typically speaking, you don’t see many 76 year old managers, not unless they are team legends like Jack McKeon (Marlins).
However, as a short term fix, you’d be surprised if the Mets found Johnson’s age to be an impediment to his being a 1-2 year stopgap. After all, this is the same team who elevated 82 year old Phil Regan to be their interim pitching coach last year.
The real issue with Johnson’s age is whether at 76 he wants to manage again.
Back in 2014, after he was fired by the Nationals, he said, “If someone called me and said, ‘You wanna work?’ ” Johnson said, “I’d look at it and maybe take it. I might. It would have to be a big challenge.” (James Wagner, The Washington Post).
Recently, Johnson wrote a book entitled Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond, which at least sounded like a coda to his career in baseball. His interview with Mathew Brownstein of MMO also gave that impression.
Still, his co-author, Erik Sherman told The Hardball Times, “Yes, I think Davey would have liked to keep managing for a while longer. He still watches Nationals games on television whenever he can.”
We also saw Johnson not get elected into the Hall of Fame. While he says he doesn’t care that much about that, being passed over may still sting, and he may want to find his way into Cooperstown. One great year with the 2020 Mets could do that.
In the end, the Mets are in an almost impossible situation. They don’t have a manager with less than a month before Spring Training begins. Their credibility has taken yet another massive hit, and no matter who they hire, that new manager is going to face intense scrutiny and be a referendum on the front office.
Hiring a veteran manager could help insulate the Mets from criticism, and a veteran manager can handle some of the messaging and deflect some of the negativity. Ideally, that manager could create excitement for the fanbase.
If he wants the job, and the Mets are willing to go in that direction, Davey Johnson could be everything the Mets and their fans need and want from their manager. If nothing else, that should at least prompt a phone call.
The firing of Carlos Beltran was an unusual one. This wasn’t performance based. Moreover, this wasn’t because of anything he did as a member of the New York Mets.
No, Beltran was fired because of his taking part in the Houston Astros sign stealing two years ago. With the firing, the Mets said cheating is wrong, and they will not be a party to it.
Actually, no, they didn’t.
We know they didn’t because the Mets traded for Jake Marisnick after the scandal broke and while the investigation was pending.
After the report was released, the Mets didn’t release Marisnick even after learning he was a part of an Astros team who cheated. Remember, the Mets thought Beltran cheating merited not just a firing, but also not paying him the money owed on his contract.
Well, if it wasn’t the cheating. Maybe it was the lying. After all, Beltran texted to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “I’m not aware of that camera. We were studying the opposite team every day.”
The problem is J.D. Davis similarly lied. When he was questioned about it, Davis said, “I have no idea, I was kind of the freshman among the seniors. I have no idea what was going on or what’s really happening.”
— Belly (@theNYCeltic) November 14, 2019
Davis cheated and lied to the press about it. However, unlike Beltran, Davis is still a member of the Mets.
Maybe the Mets want to say there’s a higher standard of conduct for a member of the coaching staff. Whereas players may get wrapped up in cheating, you can’t have that type of conduct from a leader.
So what exactly is the message here?
Cheating is acceptable, but only if you’re not that good at it? We don’t condone high level cheating unless it’s a Ponzi Scheme or insider trading?
As the Mets tell it, they were initially fine with the allegations. Brodie Van Wagenen said, “Anything that happened, happened for another organization with Houston, Major League Baseball . . . But at this point, I don’t see any reason why this is a Mets situation.”
Jeff Wilpon added at the conference call, “I think the change came when the report did come out how prominent he was in it.”
So, the message here with Davis, Marisnick, and Bones, and to a certain extent, Porcello and Betances remain members of the New York Mets, the organization is saying they have ZERO ISSUES WITH CHEATING.
In fact, with the Mets obtaining Marisnick, Porcello, and Betances after news of the scandal broke, they’re saying they actually want players who might’ve cheated or at least have knowledge of it.
The Mets want all of those players in Flushing just as long as they don’t get caught or are specifically implicated. Then, when the attention is directed the Mets way, they’ll pretend to have a problem.