With all due respect to Rafael Santana, the only choice for Homefield Magic Number 3 is Bud Harrelson:
He has been involved in more postseason and World Series games than anyone in Mets history. He was the SS on the 1969 Miracle Mets and the 1973 Mets. He was the third base coach for the 1986 World Series winning team, and the 1988 team. He was the inaugural member of the Mets Hall of Fame.
He’s the biggest winner the Mets have ever known. He’s one of the few who had two Mets World Series rings. He was never one to back down. He embodies the spirit these Mets will need in order to win the World Series this year.
Hopefully, the Mets on this team will win multiple World Series like Harrelson did.
There are two choices for 4. The first is Ron Swoboda, who was a key contributor to the 1969 Mets World Series victory:
However, my choice for Magic Man Number 4 will be Lenny Dykstra:
I chose Dykstra mostly because I got to see him play. I chose him because he was amazing in the 1986 postseason.
In the NLCS, he hit .304/.360/.565. He hit a walk off two run homerun in Game 3 of the NLCS to give the Mets a 6-5 win. He got the Game 6 ninth inning rally started with a leadoff triple. Everyone who watched this NLCS discuss the importance of winning in six with NLCS MVP Mike Scott scheduled to pitch Game 7.
In the World Series, Dykstra hit .296/.345/.519. Strangely enough, Dykstra was so big in big games that this was his worst ever postseason series. Dykstra lead off Game 3 in Boston with a homerun. This was important as the Mets came to Boston after losing the first two at Shea.
When Dykstra did all of this, he was only 23 years old. It shows that it’s not an issue of experience come October. Rather, it’s an issue of who has ice water running through their veins. This is important to keep in mind because the Mets run largely rests with their young pitching.
The young pitching has met every challenge thus far. As Dykstra shows us, they will meet the challenges they face en route to the World Series.
In 1969, the Mets had a platoon at third base with the rookie left handed batter Wayne Garrett and our Magic Man Number 5 Ed Charles:
The Glider was a good major league player for the Kansas City Athletics and the New York Mets. His major league debut was the same year as the Mets first ever season. His last ever game was Game 5 of the 1969 World Series. He went out a winner.
His last year reminds me of the current Michael Conforto–Michael Cuddyer situation. The older player takes a step back to let the better, younger player shine. It helped lead the Mets to a World Series in 1969. Hopefully, the Mets will win it all again this year.
Lets Go Mets!
Now, I’m on the record as not thinking Homefield is an advantage to the Mets. Overall, I think the Mets may be better served by stating the NLDS in Los Angeles. However, I am excited to see the Mets go for it.
Also, I have to admit I am excited at the idea of seeing Citi Field rocking for its first playoff game. Also, I had a lot of fun doing the Magic Number countdown for the divisional title. Unlike the last time, I am not focusing on the bad players on bad years. Mets fans are celebrating.
Instead, I’m focusing on Mets who have won the World Series because that’s the goal. I can’t truly focus on players I’ve seen because I wasn’t born in 1969, and I was too young to completely remember 1986.
Normally, the magic number is calculated by determining the point in which a team obtains its goal outright. Because the Mets win the season series against the Dodgers, the Mets only need to have the same exact record as the Dodgers.
Homefield Magic Number: 5
Today is a day to celebrate because THE METS ARE GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS! Today, the ride is complete. We’ve reviewed the bad years and players, and we’ve seen how good we have it now. However, there’s been one fan who’s been there from the beginning, who can really enjoy this. That’s Magic Number 00 Mr. Met:
He was there for the Can’t Anybody Play This Game 1962 Mets. He was there for the 1992 Worst Team Money Can Buy Mets. He was there for the 1998, 2007, and 2008 collapses. He’s seen the worst.
He’s also seen the best. He’s seen the 1969 Miracle Mets. The 1973 Ya Gotta Believe Mets, and the 1986 Amazin’ Mets. He’s seen the Mike Piazza 9/11 homerun and the Endy Chavez catch.
He’s going to be there with us as we see how this improbable season unfolds. I’ve enjoyed the ride and I don’t want it to stop.
LETS GO METS!
It was not that long ago that the Mets had no hope. It was not that long ago the Mets looked like they would never compete with the Nationals. It was not that long ago the Mets sought discounts to help them improve their offense. This was all last year when the Mets had Magic Number 1 Chris Young:
The Mets signed Young hoping he could reclimate his career. With the Mets, Young would hit .205/.283/.346. It was a continuation of his decline. It would only be 88 games before the Mets would release him. At that point, the Mets were in fourth place at 58-65. After his release, the Mets would slightly improve, but they would finish 79-83.
Because life isn’t fair, Young went to the Yankees and hit .282/.354/.521. This was the type of season the Mets were hoping that Young would produce for them. Young re-signed with the Yankees, and he appears to be heading to the playoffs. However, so are the Mets.
With Matt Harvey getting healthy, the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer because they thought they could win. When that didn’t work, they traded for Yoenis Cespedes. The Mets finally had hope this year, and they went for it.
It was not that long ago there was no hope. It was as soon as a year ago. Now the Mets are on the verge of the playoffs where the worst case scenario is a tie atop the division. Long gone are the days of no hope and discount players.
So with that let’s offer a tip of the cap to Magic Number 1 Chris Young. Whe you’re holding those caps up, wave goodbye to the tough times.
Coming into this season, the Mets did not build a very strong team. Sure, there was the good young pitching and David Wright, but there was a shallow bench and no everyday SS on the roster.
The Mets were trying to put a round peg in a square hole with Wilmer Flores at SS. The reason was because the Mets gift wrapped the position for Ruben Tejada in 2012 when Jose Reyes wasn’t re-signed. Tejada faultered as he would again in 2013 and 2014. Tejada faultering meant the Mets had to hand the job over to someone else, which was usually our Magic Number 3 Omar Quintanilla:
Quintanilla’s first fill-in role in 2012 was his Carter best year with him hitting .257/.350/.371 in 29 games before he was traded to the Orioles. In the second act in 2013, he would wear the number 3 for the 74-88 Mets. This time around he would only hit .222/.306/.283 in 95 games, arguably the worst year in his career. Quintanilla would change numbers again in 2013, but he wouldn’t have any better luck in what would be his last year in the majors.
Quintanilla reminds me that no team should hand anything to a player. They should have to earn it. As case in point, after having to fight to get a job, Tejada is having the best year of his career with a strong September where he’s hitting .405/.476/.568.
This is all a result of the Mets having a strong roster where players have to earn their playing time. We’ve seen with past Mets teams this lack of competition leads to complacency and poor play. You then have to overplay people like Quintanilla, who give it their all, but are unfortunately limited players.
So let’s tip our caps to Magic Number 3 Imar Quintanilla for reminding us that it’s a good roster with good internal competition that drives a team forward.
In 1991, the Mets streak of finishing second or better in the NL East came to an end. The Mets had a 77-84 record, good for second to last in the division.
Part of the problem was the Mets had a hard time retooling. Davey Johnson gave way to Bud Harrelson. Frank Cashen gave way to Jerry Hunsicker. Darryl Strawberry gave way to Vince Coleman. Gary Carter initially gave way to Mackey Sasser, who was terrific until he came down with Steve Blass Disease. The Mets knew they needed another catcher, so they traded for Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien:
O’Brien was meant to be that classic backup catcher who was terrific defensively. That was his reputation. However, he couldn’t play everyday because he was terrible offensively. In 1991, his first full year with the Mets (only year he wore 5 with the team), he hit .185/.272/.256. For his Mets career, he would hit .212/.289/.309. While with the Mets, he would only play in losing teams.
Really, his only claim to fame was his hockey style catcher’s mask, which he wouldn’t wear in a game until he was long gone from the Mets. Ultimately, he would serve as a mentor to the young Todd Hundley, but that would not be for a few more years.
Charlie O’Brien reminds me of earlier this year when the Mets couldn’t generate any offense. He reminds me of a time when the Mets were trending downward as opposed to being on the verge of something potentially great. He reminds me that older players can effectively mentor younger players to help them be the best players they can be.
Charlie O’Brien may have been on a Mets team that was heading in a different direction, but he exhibited some of the virtues that have helped make this Mets team great. So with that, let’s tip our caps to Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien.
Even though the Mets lost, the Mets Magic Number is now 6 because the Nationals lost to the Orioles. With the Mets having two Rule 5 picks pitching in a game, and both of the Mets young catchers getting into the game, I thought the best choice for magic number 6 would be Kelly Shoppach:
In 2012, the 74-88 Mets traded for the impending free agent Shoppach for a player to be named later. The idea was to get a good look at him to see if the team wanted to re-sign him and/or to get him to work with Josh Thole. Neither one would be back.
Shoppach only hit .203/.276/.342 in 28 games. His play did not inspire the Mets to re-sign him. Thole would be moved in the famed R.A. Dickey trade that netted the Mets 2015 cornerstones, Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud.
The player to be named in the Shoppach deal was Pedro Beato, a former Rule 5 draft pick like Sean Gilmartin is this year. We did learn this year the player to be named later was almost Jacob deGrom, which would’ve been disastrous. Note, Sandy Alderson was reported to be alright with trading deGrom at the time until one of his advisors warned him not to make the deal.
But I digress. The seeds of the 2015 Mets were laid in the 2012 offseason. Much of the way the roster is currently constituted has to do with the Shoppach trade and his faired as a Met. If he succeeded, it’s possible he stays, and who knows what happens with d’Arnaud from there? Maybe nothing changes? Maybe Shoppach isn’t as effective a mentor as John Buck. My doctor won’t let me address the deGrom possibilities.
So as the Shoppach trade arguably set the wheels in motion, let’s offer a hat tip to Magic Man Number 6 Kelly Shoppach.