Armando Benitez

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should The Mets Bring Back The Black Jerseys?

While this is the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Miracle Mets, it is also the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Mets. As part of the 1969 celebration, it appears we will finally get to the Tom Seaver statute Mets fans have been clamoring for over the past decade. However, it does not appear there will be similar celebrations for the first Mets team to make consecutive postseasons this year.

You could present the argument the Mets could do something subtle like dusting off the black jerseys and wearing them like the Mets wore the old racing stripe jerseys three years ago. Of course, the mere mention of bringing back those jerseys tends to set off a firestorm. With that in mind, our roundtable answers the question as to whether the Mets should ever bring back the black jerseys in any way, shape, or form:

Pete McCarthy (OABT)

Only the black hats with blue brim.

Bre S. (That Mets Chick)

I wouldn’t completely bring them back but it would be cool to see them on occasion. The Mets wore the 86 racing stripes in 2016 on Sundays. It would be nice to see them maybe on Friday nights. (Sunday day games might be too hot for black uniforms).

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

I love the black jerseys, but it’s strange because until last September, David Wright would have been the last active Met to wear them. Now, as far as I can tell, assuming Jose Reyes is done, the only remaining Mets who wore the black jerseys during their original run are Jason Vargas — maybe — and Carlos Gomez — probably. That’s nothing against the jerseys; it’s just a hell of a thought that Juan Lagares is the longest tenured Met, and the current Mets who go back the farthest as Mets are Jason Vargas and Carlos Gomez. I guess my point is yes, absolutely bring back the black jerseys, but also wow, what a weird, crazy world we live in.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I’m not nostalgic about the black unis, especially since we only stopped wearing them seven years ago. I can’t get nostalgic about a uniform that a truckload of Mets fans complained about when they actually wore them. Love the blues much better and would rather wear those on Friday nights.

That said, if you want to bring the black unis back to mark an anniversary, save them until next season. This season belongs to ’69. A truly historic team like that deserves the entire season. Sneaking in a ’99 tribute seems odd to me. Instead, honor the 2000 team. They are probably the most underappreciated team in Mets history. Partly because the ’99 team overshadows them, and partly because they lost to the Yankees, who overshadow everybody. I understand that the roster was essentially the same, but the 2000 team never even got so much as a congratulatory rally at Shea Stadium. A good amount of pennant winners who lost the World Series at least got that, and I think the Mets would have had that if they had lost to anybody except the Yankees. They deserve their due. (Even Armando Benitez.) So I say do it next season.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Wear period uniforms when they induct Alfonzo, Valentine and Leiter into the team Hall of Fame. Also, induct Edgardo Alfonzo, Bobby Valentine and Al Leiter into the team Hall of Fame.

Come 2022, I’d endorse doing for the 60th anniversary what the Reds are doing for their 125th, sprinkling in different throwbacks throughout the season, the black ones included.

Metstradamus

Greg, I thought of that too. If we want to have throwbacks for years ending in 9, give us the ’69 unis, the black unis, but also the two button pullovers from ’79 and the Mark Carreon specials from ’89.

Mets Daddy

I do like the special days one. Personally, I thought Piazza’s 31 should’ve been in black.

Greg Prince

Decade Nights or whatever shouldn’t take that much imagination to pull off.

It also requires a tacit admission that the Mets existed in years besides 1969, 1986 and the current year.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I was never a huge fan of the black jerseys but if it makes the Mets money they may bring them back. Seems like so many sports teams had a black third jersey and it kind of got played out. From a design point of view, you use black as a shortcut to make the uniform look better… but it doesn’t always work.

James Schapiro

The real question: black uniforms or snow-whites?

Metstradamus

James, black over the snow whites. Not close.

Mets Daddy

Whites were always too Brooklyn Dodgers for me

Greg Prince

I dare the Mets to bring back the 1997 ice cream hats for one game in 2022. The pillbox hats from 1976. And, of course, the Mercury Mets getup from 1999.

Mets Daddy

I actually liked the ice cream hats on their own. With the white jerseys, they were terrible

Metstradamus

They had a chance to bring back Mercury Mets on the 20th anniversary. Of course they blew it.

Greg Prince

Mercury Mets would be ideal for 2021. That was the date of “the future,” in 1999.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

I’m torn on the black. I did like them, but like always, the team ruined the concept by never truly executing the look properly. The hybrid cap, black with blue bill was atrocious, & did not match the jersey. (Sorry, Pete). They also de-emphasised blue in criminal fashion, wearing the home uniform with black undershirts / sleeves and socks made the team look hideous. If they bring them back, which they will, the all black cap and special one Tim only snow White pants (it looks terrible with the pinstripe pants) is the only way the jersey should be worn. Also Mercury Mets = infamnia.

But I hate the introduction of black as a major element because it ruined the rest of the uniform. That the Mets wore this monstrosity at home in the World Series still irritates me to no end. Hybrid cap, black undershirt, black drop shadow = again, infamnia

I hated the cap, I really, really hate it. If Mets bring back this hideous thing, then I vote No on black alts.

Mets Daddy

On the hat, I agree. As I noted previously, the hats need updating. I also think the jerseys themselves were overused. If the Mets were so inclined, I think bringing them back for Friday nights may be the best possible solution, mostly because I associate the Friday night black jerseys with Mike Piazza hitting that home run to cap off a 10 run rally against the Braves.

Overall, this was one of my favorite roundtables thus far, and I hope this roundtable encourages you to check out the excellent work of the people who contributed to this roundtable.

Mets New Years Resolutions

After an unplanned hiatus, it is time to start the New Year off fresh and to look at everything anew. It is time for change and resolutions to carry us through 2019. Here are the resolutions for each of the Mets players:

Robinson Cano – don’t get caught using PEDs this time

Yoenis Cespedes – find a way to DH in at least two games this year

Michael Conforto – don’t let Chili Davis anywhere near his perfect swing

Jacob deGrom – learn how to hit better so he can finally win some games next year.

Travis d’Arnaud – get the same surgery Wolverine got

Rajai Davis – just remind Callaway he was his center fielder in Cleveland because as we saw with Austin Jackson, it is a guarantee for a significant amount of playing time

Edwin Diaz – seek out Armando Benitez, get his advice, and ignore everything he has to say.

Jeurys Familia – convince Callaway Diaz needs to be used in higher leverage situations so he can get his closer job back

Todd Frazier – find a way to sell move boxes of unsold Mets salt and pepper grinders while not falling into the same trap this year.

Drew Gagnon – keep those incriminating photos which have allowed you to survive roster cut after roster cut.

Robert Gsellman – learn how to pitch well for more than just one month out of the season

Juan Lagares – find a way to play at least half a season

Seth Lugo – when he is not given an opportunity to start and is an All Star snub, channel his inner Margot Martindale from BoJack Horseman

Steven Matz – pitch better so his grandfather will begin cheering for him again.

Jeff McNeil – find a way to hit .400 because short of that the Mets are probably not putting him in the lineup

Tomas Nidosign up for the best travel rewards program there is because by the time 2019 is over he will be able to fly first class to Australia and back at least 10 times a month

Brandon Nimmo – life isn’t that bad, maybe he should smile every once in a while

Kevin Plawecki – hit the occasional ground ball to the left side just to shake things up.

Jacob Rhame – find a new look because the Jason Phillips thing just isn’t working for him or his career.

Amed Rosario – take some mommy/baby classes so he can learn how to walk

Paul Sewald – have a print out of his game logs from Baseball Reference to remind the Mets he pitches well in shorter spurts, and that he is not superhuman and cannot handle onerous workloads. Cry when the attempts fail and he finds himself back in Triple-A

Dominic Smithlend Peter Alonso his alarm clock in Spring Training

Noah Syndergaard find an open mic somewhere to discover no one actually believes he or his Mr. Met feud is funny.

Jason Vargas – leave the Jeff Goldblum impressions in the clubhouse and stop pitching like him when he takes the mound.

Bobby Wahl – make sure the comparisons to Matt Harvey stay with both pitchers having TOS and not because fans are questioning why your manager would put you on the mound to start the ninth inning

Zack Wheeler – don’t even let a Mets team doctor near his arm in his free agent walk year.

Daniel Zamora – be able to spin his bad outings the way he can spin his slider

Mickey Callaway – take a deep breath and relax. Now that Jay Bruce is gone, he’s going to be able to hand in the right lineup.

Thank You MLB For Joe West

The NLCS and the ALCS have been riveting series so far with many storylines and subplots.  After each and every game, there is so much to unpack and discuss.  In many ways, these series are all that is great about baseball.

The Brewers are trying to bullpen their way through the postseason.  Their efforts reached their peak yesterday with Craig Counsell pulling Wade Miley after he walked Cody Bellinger, so he could insert Brandon Woodruff.  The obvious goal there was to get the right-handed Woodruff in against a predominantly right-handed lineup.

The Dodgers have been dealing with the drama with Manny Machado not hustling and making dirty plays in the field.  Through all of it, Machado has been the best player in this series, and in a 13 inning Game 4 victory, he made the hustle plays to win the game.  In addition to Machado, the Dodgers have the usual postseason issues related to Clayton Kershaw, who followed a bad start with a gem yesterday.

In the ALCS, the Astros appeared poised to streamroll the Red Sox.  In Game 1, Chris Sale didn’t have his velocity, and he went to the hospital after the game.  In that game, the Astros beat up on what is a poor Red Sox bullpen.  It seemed as if this was going to be a recurring theme in this series except it hasn’t.  The Red Sox have won three straight games with the Red Sox taking advantage of the Astros bullpen while Alex Cora has used a deft touch, including his use of Rick Porcello in the pen, to navigate his way through each game even with Craig Kimbrel nearly pulling an Armando Benitez each game.

We should be talking about each and every single thing from each of these series.  We should be talking about George Springer having another phenomenal postseason run.  Same thing for Justin TurnerOrlando Arcia is playing at another level this postseason.  There are so many great stories and more, and today, we’re not talking about any of them.

No, we’re talking about Joe West because he made a decision which may have changed the course of not just Game 4 of the ALCS but the entire series.

Mookie Betts was about to rob Jose Altuve of a two run homer until his glove hit the hands of some fans in the stands.  While there may not have been a definitive video, it is about 99 percent certain Betts reached into the stands, which means pursuant to MLB rules, it should have been a home run.

Before discussing further, it’s important to see West’s position.  It is best shown in this video:

Joe West is nowhere near position to make that call.  Seeing him out there, it was clearly impossible for him to get into the correct position.  The right field umpire is really in no man’s land. and he felt comfortable enough to make a series changing call.  In addition, MLB did not have enough cameras in place to properly analyze a call which was still fairly obvious.

Really, unless you are from Boston, an MLB replay official, Joe West, or a horrid analyst like Billy Ripken, you knew it was not fan interference.  And yet, here we are.  Stuck with a bad call in what should be a great series.  Worse yet, instead of discussing all the great things which are happening in the postseason, we are focusing on Joe West.

Time and again, we hear from Rob Manfred about all that is wrong with baseball.  He has publicly chastised Mike Trout for not being available for MLB promotions.  And yet, while he’s focusing on all that’s wrong and blaming players for his marketing department not being able to promote players, he allows Joe West to go out there and be Joe West and not make sure there are enough cameras in place to mitigate against that.

Astros And Dodgers Fans, This One Is Going To Hurt For A While

If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI.  You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards.  You know what you don’t hear about?  Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.

The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever.  However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.

For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series.  One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.

After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.

Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series.  As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:

1988 NLCS

  • Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four.  Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
  • It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.

1999 NLCS

  • First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
  • Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
  • Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.

2000 World Series

2006 NLCS

2015 World Series

2016 Wild Card Game

  • Connor Gillaspie

The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights.  After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing.  They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough.  Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play.  Really, the list goes on and on.

For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong.  Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more.  For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.

Put Bobby Valentine in the Mets Hall of Fame

It has been almost 15 years since Bobby Valentine has managed the Mets, and because of how history works, the enduring image we have of Bobby V is the time he came back into the dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache made with eye back after he had been thrown out of a game.  Bobby V was much more than that.

After a disappointing player career that included two forgettable seasons with the Mets, Valentine became a coach.  In 1983, he was named the third base coach for the George Bamberger led Mets.  Despite Bamberger not lasting the season, and General Manager Frank Cashen cleaning house, the Mets decided to keep Valentine when Davey Johnson was hired.  From 1983 – 1985, Valentine was generally regarded as a very good third base coach, who helped in the development of a young Mets team from cellar dwellers to contenders.  He would be hired as the Texas Rangers manager, and he would miss all of the 1986 season. 

After his stint in Texas, a brief stop in Norfolk, and one in Japan, the Mets brought Bobby V back to the organization for the 1996 season.  Initially, he was named as the manager of the Tides.   However, after Dallas Green had finally run through all of the young arms on the team, Valentine was named the interim manager for the final 31 games of the season.  In the offseason, the interim tag would be removed, and he would start the 1997 season as the Mets manager.

The 1997 Mets were THE surprise team in all of baseball.  Despite a starting rotation that was comprised of Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki, Bobby Jones, Mark Clark, Brian Bohanon, and Armando Reynoso, the Mets would go from a 71 win team to an 88 win team.  Now, there were good seasons for the turnaround.  There was the acquisition of John Olerud.  There was also another strong season from Lance Johnson, and Todd Hundley proved his record setting 41 home run 1996 season was no fluke.  However, there were other factors at play, and they were directly related to the manger.

First, Edgardo Alfonzo was made the everyday third baseman instead of the utility player he was under Green.  Also, while Reed had started the season coming out of the bullpen, Bobby V moved him into the rotation.  Additionally, whereas Green’s calling card was to abuse his starters’ arms, Valentine protected his starters’ arms (his starters averaged six innings per start and less), and he used the bullpen to his advantage.  On a more subjective note, this was a team that played harder and was more sound fundamentally.  It was a team that probably played over their heads for much of the season.

One important note from this season, Mlicki threw a complete game shut-out against the Yankees in the first ever Subway Series game.  While the Mets were overmatched in terms of talent in that three game series, Bobby V had that group ready to play, and they very nearly took the three game set from the Yankees.

With the Mets having overachieved, the front office led by General Manager Steve Phillips gave his manager some reinforcements.  The team would acquire Al Leiter and Dennis Cook from the Marlins.  The Mets would also add Japanese pitcher Masato Yoshii from Japan.  However, this team was struggling due to Hundley’s elbow injury and Bernard Gilkey and Carlos Baerga having yet another disappointing season.  Bobby V and the Mets kept the team above .500 and competitive long enough to allow the front office to make the bold move to add Mike Piazza.

From there, the Mets took off, and they would actually be in the thick of the Wild Card race.  They were in it despite the Hundley LF experiment not working.  They were in it despite getting nothing offensively from left field and their middle infield.  They were in it despite the fact the Mets effectively had a three man bullpen.  The latter (I’m looking at you Mel Rojas) coupled with the Braves dominance of the Mets led to a late season collapse and the team barely missing out on the Wild Card.

The Mets re-loaded in 1999 with Rickey Henderson, Robin Ventura, Roger Cedeno, Armando Benitez, and Orel Hershiser (no, Bobby Bonilla is not getting lumped in here).  Things do not initially go as planned.  After blowing a late lead, the Yankees beat the Mets, and the Mets found themselves a game under .500.  Phillips responded by firing almost all of Bobby V’s coaching staff.

The Mets and Bobby V responded by becoming the hottest team in baseball.  From that point forward, the Mets were 70-37.  At points during the season, they even held onto first place for a few days.  The Mets were helped by Bobby V being judicious with Henderson’s playing time to help keep him fresh.  Like in year’s past, Bobby V moved on from a veteran not performing to give Cedeno a chance to play everyday, and he was rewarded.  Again, like in previous seasons, Bobby V had to handle a less than stellar starting rotation.

In what was a fun and tumultuous season, the Mets won 97 games.  The team nearly avoided disaster again by forcing a one game playoff against the Reds for the Wild Card.  Not only did the Mets take that game, but they upset the Diamondbacks in the NLDS.  The NLDS performance is all the more impressive when you consider Piazza was forced to miss the last two games due to injury.  In the NLCS, they just met a Braves team that had their number for the past three seasons.  Still, even with the Braves jumping all over the Mets and getting a 3-0 series lead, we saw the Mets fight back.

In Game 4, it was an eighth inning two run go-ahead Olerud RBI single off John Rocker.  In Game 5, it was a 15 inning game that was waiting for the other team to blink first.  While, the Mets blinked in the top of the 15th with a Keith Lockhart RBI triple, the Mets responded in the bottom of the 15th with Ventura’s Grand Slam single to send the series back to Atlanta.  The Mets would be ever so close in Game 6.  They fought back from a 5-0 and 7-3 deficit.  Unforutnately, neither John Franco nor Benitez could hold a lead to force a Game 7.  Then Kenny Rogers couldn’t navigate his way around a lead-off double and bases loaded one out situation in the 11th.

In 2000, Bobby V finally got the rotation he needed with the trade acquiring Mike Hampton and the emergence of Glendon Rusch.  However, even with the much improved rotation, it still was not an easy year for the Mets.  It rarely ever was during Bobby V’s tenure.

First, the Mets had to deal with the Henderson and Darryl Hamilton situations.  Henderson became a malcontent that wanted a new contract.  Hamilton lost his starting job due to a toe injury and had become a part time player.  The result was the complete transformation of the outfield with Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton becoming everyday players.  In the infield, the Mets lost Olerud to free agency and had to convert free agent third baseman Todd Zeile into a first baseman.  Additionally, the Mets lost Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez to injury leading the team to have to rely on Melvin Mora as their shortstop for much of the season.  In what was perhaps Bobby V’s finest managing job with the Mets, the team made the postseason for the second straight year.  It was the first time in Mets history they had gone to consecutive playoff games.

In the postseason, the team showed the same toughness and grit as they had in prior years.  In the first game of the NLDS, they overcame an injury to Derek Bell and saw Timo Perez become a folk hero.  The Mets outlasted the Giants in Game 2 despite a Benitez blown save.  In Game 3, Agbayani hit a walk-off homer in the 13th, and Game 4 saw the Jones one-hitter.  With the Mets not having to face the Braves in the NLCS, they steamrolled through the Cardinals en route to their first World Series since 1986.  While the team never gave in, the balls did not bounce in their favor.  That was no more apparent than when Zeile’s fly ball hit the top of the left field wall and bounced back into play.

From there, Phillips lost his magic touch.  The team started to get old in 2001, and by 2002, everything fell apart.  After what was his first season under .500 with the Mets, Bobby V was fired after the 2002 season.  With one exception, it was the end of a forgettable and disappointing two seasons for the Mets.

One thing that cannot be lost with the 2001 season was how the Mets dealt with the aftermath of 9/11.  Every player did their part.  So did their manager.  After 9/11 happened, Bobby V was a visible face of the Mets franchise visiting firehouses and helping relief aid at Shea Stadium.  When it was time to return to playing games, he was able to get his players in a mindset to play baseball games.  That is no small feat when your captain was a local guy who lost a friend on 9/11.  Also, while it was the players who spearheaded wearing the First Responders’ caps, it was their manager who stood by their side and encouraged them to wear them despite requests to take them off from the Commissioner’s Office.

Through the roller coaster ride that was the 1,003 games of the Bobby V Era, the Mets were 536-437.  During that span, Bobby V managed the second most games in Mets history while earning the second most wins in Mets history.  His .534 winning percentage is the third best in Mets history just behind Johnson and Willie Randolph.  In all but his final season as Mets manager, the Mets either met or exceed their expected (Pythagorean) record.

Bobby V stands as just one of two managers to go to consecutive postseasons.  His 13 postseason wins are the most by any manager in Mets history.  He’s the only Mets manager to win a postseason series in consecutive postseasons.  He’s managed in more postseason series than any other Mets manager.

Overall, Bobby V is an important part of Mets history.  Out of all the managers in Mets history, it is fair to say the Bobby V consistently did more with the talent given to him by his front office.  For some, he is the best manager in Mets history.  Most will certainly agree he is at least the third best manager in Mets history.  For all of this, and how he represented the Mets organization during 9/11 and the aftermath, Bobby V should be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

 

Al Leiter Should Be a Mets Hall of Famer

In 2000, the New York Mets made the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in their history.  It was a two year run that produced some of the most memorable moments in Mets history.

In the Mets first ever NLDS game, Edgardo Alfonzo hit two home runs, including a grand slam.  The Mets would win that NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 10th inning walk-off home run from Todd Pratt in a moment dubbed Pratt’s All Folks.  The NLCS featured Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single, and Mike Piazza‘s opposite field home run against John Smoltz which capped the Mets rallying from an early 5-0 and 7-3 deficits in what was a heart wrenching game.

In the 2000 NLDS, John Franco froze Barry Bonds to get a 10th inning strikeout to rescue the Mets from an Armando Benitez blown save.  In Game 3, Benny Agbayani would hit a walk-off 13th inning home run giving the Mets a 2-1 lead in the series setting the stage for Bobby Jones‘ brilliant one-hitter to cap the series.  In the NLCS, Timo Perez became a folk hero as the Mets swept the hated Cardinals to return to the World Series for the first time since 1986.

None of this . . . not one single moment would have been possible without Al Leiter.

Starting on September 21st, the Mets lost seven games in a row and eight of nine.  The losing streak saw the Mets four game lead in the Wild Card turn into a two game deficit.  It appeared that for the second season in a row, the Mets were going to blow a fairly sizeable lead in the Wild Card race and miss the postseason all together.  Fortunately, the Mets would win out and force a one game playoff against the Cincinnati Reds for the Wild Card and the right to face the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 1999 NLDS.

After Rickey Henderson and Alfonzo hit back-to-back home runs to open the game, Leiter would do the rest.  Leiter was simply brilliant in a complete game two-hit seven strikeout shutout.  This start came off the heels of Leiter’s last start of the season where he out-dueled Greg Maddux to snap the the Mets eight game losing streak and put the team back in position to make a run at the Wild Card.

Typically, that was the type of pitcher Leiter was in a Mets uniform.  He rose to the occasion in some when the Mets needed him.  He was the guy who helped pitch the Mets into the 1999 postseason.  He was the guy who helped turn around the 2000 NLDS by shutting down the San Francisco Giants over eight plus innings.  He was the pitcher who gave everything he had in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series.  Much like the Mets in that two year time frame, he was terrific, but time and again, he came up just short.  In seven postseason starts for the Mets, he was 0-2 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.080 WHIP.  Taking out the 1999 NLCS Game 6 start against the Braves he made on three days rest and couldn’t record an out, his Mets postseason ERA and WHIP respectively drops to 2.58 and 1.015.

Leiter’s greatness as a Met extend far beyond the superlatives of his moments in big games and how well he pitched in the postseason.  He was also very good in the regular season.

Leiter first came to the Mets in a February 1998 trade that featured the Mets sending prized prospect A.J. Burnett to a Florida Marlins team that was dismantling their World Series winning club.  The trade was a sign the Mets were interested in moving on from a team that was rebuilding to a team that was ready to start competing.  Adding a pitcher like Leiter, while a risk, certainly paid dividends.

In 1998, Leiter would arguably post the best year of his career going 17-6 with a 2.47 ERA and a 1.150 WHIP.  That season Leiter was unquestionably the ace for a Mets team that surprised everyone by competing for a Wild Card spot deep into the season.  For much of Leiter’s seven year career he served as either the Mets ace, 1A, or number two starter.

In his entire Mets career, Leiter was 95-67 with a 3.42 ERA, 1,360.0 innings pitched, 1,106 strikeouts, and a 1.300 WHIP.  In that seven year span, Leiter posted a very good 124 ERA+ and a 28.0 WAR.  He would make an All Star team and he would have one Top 10 Cy Young Award finish.  With strong numbers like these, it should be no surprise Leiter’s name is scattered across the Mets record books:

  • Wins (95) – sixth
  • Games Started (213) – sixth
  • Innings Pitched (1,360.0) – seventh
  • Strikeouts (1,106) – seventh
  • WAR (28.0) – 11th

In terms of all-time Mets pitchers, Leiter’s WAR ranks him as the sixth best pitcher in Mets history behind Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Sid Fernandez, and Jon Matlack.  In terms of left-handed starters, Leiter ranks third in wins, seventh in ERA, third in starts, fourth in innings pitched, and third in strikeouts.

In terms of advanced statistics, Leiter’s 1998 season was the seventh best by a Mets pitcher by ERA+.  In fact, his Mets career ERA+ ranks him as the eighth best pitcher in Mets history.  Among pitchers that have thrown more than a thousand innings, his ERA+ is second all-time to just Seaver.  Adjusted pitching runs ranks him as the third best pitcher in Mets history just behind Seaver and Gooden, and adjusted pitching wins ranks him fourth.  In terms of WPA, he ranks fourth all time, third among starters, and second among left-handed pitchers.

Simply put, Leiter had a terrific career in a Mets uniform.  His 1998 season was one of the best by a Mets starter.  By most measures, he’s a top 10 or top 5 pitcher in Mets history.  He has came up big in big moments time and time again.  He was also part of a group of Mets players that welcomed Piazza after the trade with the Marlins and made him feel welcome enough for Piazza to re-sign with the Mets.

More than any of the aforementioned stats, there is another factor.  There is no way you can adequately tell the history of the Mets franchise without discussing Leiter.  Leiter was an important member of two Mets teams that made the postseason.  He is a major part of one of the best eras in Mets baseball, and he’s a part of one of the most beloved teams in Mets history.  Moreover, he is a part of a core group of Mets that have been long overlooked for the Mets Hall of Fame.  Despite 1997 – 2001 being one of the better stretches in Mets history,  Piazza and Franco remain the only Mets from those teams to be represented in the Mets Hall of Fame.  They were not the only contributors to this run.

This era of Mets baseball has been long overlooked by this team.  It is time some of those important Mets get inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Leiter is one of the Mets that deserve induction.

Why Isn’t Edgardo Alfonzo In the Mets Hall of Fame?

Back in 2012, the New York Mets announced their 50th Anniversary Team.  Reviewing the list none of the players named should come as a surprise.  It should come as even less of a surprise that of all the players named to the team, all the retired players have been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  Well, all but one player has.

The greatest second baseman in Mets history, Edgardo Alfonzo, still has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  He has not been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame despite his being retired since 2006 and despite his presence in the Mets organization for the past few seasons.  Put another way, this is not a player who has poor ties with the organization and that would be hard to bring back to honor him.  Looking at it from that perspective, it is shocking to say the least that Alfonzo is not in the Mets Hall of Fame.

Judging by WAR alone, Alfonzo is the best middle infielder in Mets history posting a career 29.5 WAR as a Met.  That 29.5 WAR ranks him as the seventh best Met in history.  That puts him ahead of players like Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza, and Bud Harrelson, all of whom have already been inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  With that said, WAR only tells part of the story of the impact Alfonzo has had on Mets history.

In eight seasons as a New York Met, Alfonzo hit .292/.367/.445 with 120 homers and 538 RBI.  In those eight years, Alfonzo was one of the best Mets to ever put on a uniform.  It’s why he was named as the best second baseman in Mets history.  Naturally, Alfonzo ranks high in the Top 10 in many offensive categories:

  • Games (1,086) – 10th
  • PA (4,449) – 8th
  • AB (3,897) – 9th
  • Runs (614) – 5th
  • Hits (1,136) – 5th
  • Doubles (212) – 6th
  • Homers (120) – 9th
  • XBH (346) – 8th
  • RBI (538) – 7th
  • Average (.292) – tied 5th
  • OBP (.367) – 7th

The advanced numbers paint a number better picture of Alfonzo.  His WAR is fourth best for a Mets position player, second for a Mets infielder, and the best for a Mets middle infielder.  His 2000 6.4 WAR ranks as the fifth best season by a Mets position player.  His defensive WAR is the sixth best in Mets history, third best by a Mets infielder, and best by a Mets second baseman.  He ranks fifth in runs created, eighth in adjusted batting runs, and eighth in WPA.

Alfonzo led the Mets in runs, hits, and doubles in the 1990s.  In that same decade, he also had the finished second in games played, at bats, total bases, and RBI.  In the decade he was also fourth in triples, seventh in homers, eighth in stolen bases, third in walks, and third in batting average.  Arguably, he was the Mets best player of the decade.

In addition to these numbers, Alfonzo was named to an All Star team (should have been more than the one), won a Silver Slugger, and had three top 15 MVP finishes.  He finished second in Gold Glove voting in 1999 and 2001 as a second baseman.  In 1997, he finished second in Gold Glove voting as a third baseman.  Still, Alfonzo was much more than all of this.

When thinking of Alfonzo it is near impossible to choose just one moment that highlights his career.  You can start with him being part of the greatest defensive infield ever assembled.  In the 1999 Wild Card play-in game, he followed Rickey Henderson‘s leadoff home run with a home run of his own to give Al Leiter all the cushion he needed for the Mets to claim the Wild Card and head to the NLDS.  In Game One of the NLDS, he would homer off Randy Johnson in the first inning to give the Mets a 1-0 lead, and then he would hit a grand slam off of Bobby Chouinard in the ninth to break the 4-4 tie.  In the clinching Game 4, he got the Mets on the board with a fourth inning homer off of Brian Anderson.

Alfonzo would come up similarly big in the 2000 NLDS.  In Game 2, with the Mets already down 1-o in the series, and with Armando Benitez having blown the save, Alfonzo ripped a double down the left field line scoring Lenny Harris.  Lost in the shuffle of that inning was the fact that he had hit a home run in the ninth giving the Mets some much needed insurance runs.  In any event, the RBI double allowed the Mets to tie the series and return to the NLCS for a second consecutive year.  In the 2000 NLCS, Alfonzo was one of a few Mets that probably should have been named the NLCS MVP.  In the five game series, Alfonzo hit an incredible .444/.565/.611 with five runs, a double, a triple, and four RBI.

Unsurprisingly, Alfonzo is the Mets all-time leader in postseason hits, games played, and g0-ahead hits.  In fact, four of those hits were in the 7th inning or later.  That is the second best mark in postseason history – not Mets postseason history – all of baseball history.

Speaking of hits, Alfonzo became the first ever Met to go 6/6 in a game.  In what ranks as the most impressive hitting display in Mets history, Alfonzo hit three home runs and a double while recording five RBI.  There have been no Mets and only one National League player that has posted a higher game score since 1999.

Somehow, some way none of this has garnered Alfonzo enough support to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.  It’s wrong because Alfonzo is not just the best second baseman in Mets history, he is the best middle infielder in Mets history.  He was a pivotal member of two teams that went to the postseason, and he had huge hits on those postseasons.  He has set a number of Mets records.  Overall, there is absolutely no way you can deny that Alfonzo is one of the best players in Mets history.  Accordingly, he deserves enshrinement into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Mets Perform Better With Republican Presidents

There are many factors to consider when voting for a candidate today.  At this point, they have all be regurgitated and discussed at length, and hopefully, you have made your decision based upon sound criteria.  However, if you are looking for a reason to change your mind or reason to have your mind made up for you, or you really want to base this important decision on how the Mets have fared with a Republican or a Democrat in office, you are in luck.  Here is how the Mets have performed under each President in their 54 year history:

President Seasons Record Win %
John F. Kennedy 1962 – 1963 91 – 231 0.283
Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 – 1968 303 – 506 0.375
Richard M Nixon 1969 – 1974* 478 – 433 0.525
Gerald R. Ford 1974* – 1976 263 – 277 0.487
Jimmy Carter 1977 – 1980 260 – 388 0.401
Ronald Reagan 1981 – 1988 662 – 573 0.536
George H.W. Bush 1989 – 1992 386 – 423 0.477
William Jefferson Clinton 1993 – 2000 562 – 506 0.526
George W. Bush 2001 – 2008 651 – 643 0.503
Barack Obama 2009 – 2016 630-666 0.486

* Nixon resigned from office August 9, 1974

Here are the cumulative results:

Party Record Win%
Democrat 1,846 – 2,297 0.446
Republican 2,440 – 2,349 0.510

Here are some interesting Mets postseason facts when there was a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

Democrat Postseason Facts

  • The two times the Mets have been to back-to-back postseasons was when there was a Democrat in the White House (1999 & 2000 – Clinton; 2015 & 2016 – Obama)
  • The Mets have only had an NLCS MVP when there was a Democrat in the White House (Mike Hampton – 2000; Daniel Murphy – 2015)
  • The Mets have only won the division once (2015) with a Democrat in office.  The other three postseason appearances were as the Wild Card.
  • The Mets have appeared in four total postseasons and two World Series.  The Mets are 21-17 in postseason games with the following records per round:
    Wild Card Game 0 – 1
    NLDS 9 – 4
    NLCS 10 – 4
    World Series 2 – 8

Republican Postseason Facts

  • The Mets have won their only two World Series with a Republican in office (1969 – Nixon; 1986 – Reagan)
  • In all five of their appearances in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets were the National Leauge East champions.
  • In three of the five appearances, the Mets won 100+ games with the high water mark coming in 1986 with 108 wins
  • In four of the five seasons the Mets appeared in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets had the best record in the National League (1973 is the exception).  In two of those seasons (1986 & 2006), the Mets had the best record in baseball.
  • In total, the Mets have appeared in five postseason and three World Series.  The Mets are 30-20 in those postseason games with the following records per round:
    NLDS 3 – 0
    NLCS 16 – 12
    World Series 11 – 8

If you wish to mainly focus on player performance over how the team has fared during each administration, Mets players have received more awards during Republican leadership:

Cy Young Award

Rookie of the Year

Rolaids Relief Man

Sports Illustrated Man of the Year

  • Republican 1 (Seaver 1969)
  • Democrat 0

Gold Gloves

Silver Sluggers

Roberto Clemente Award

From the Front Office side, Republicans have a 2-1 edge in executive of the year with Johnny Murphy winning in 1969, Frank Cashen winning in 1986, and Sandy Alderson winning in 2015.  Baseball America named the Mets the top organization in baseball once in a Republican (1984) and once in a Democratic (1995) term.

As a general rule of thumb, the Mets and their players have performed better with a Republican in office.  As you enter the voting booths today, take that as you will.  Hopefully, you have more sound criteria for choosing your candidate.

Indians Fans Deserve a World Series More than Cubs Fans

Time and again, we have heard about the Billy Goat curse and the Chicago Cubs not having won a World Series since 1908.  As a result, many are supposed to empathize with them for their time falling short time and again.  Moreover, many sympathize with a fan base that has never seen their team win a World Series in their lifetime.  While all of this is true, it is not appreciably different than being a Cleveland Indians fan.

The Indians last won the World Series in 1948 against the Boston Braves.  Yes, the Boston, not Atlanta Braves.  That’s how long ago the Indians last World Series title was.  If you are to assume that a 10 year old had the full capacity to appreciate the World Series victory and remember the run to the World Series, that means Indians fans who could relish those Lou Boudreau teams were born in 1938.  That would make those fans 78 years old today.  Rounding up just a tad, unless you are an octogenarian, Indians fans have never seen their team win a World Series.  What they have seen is some excruciating losses.

Back in 1995, the Indians sent out what could be considered the greatest offensive team ever assembled.  That Indians team was shut down by Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Steve Avery over the six game set.  A team that had scored 840 runs in 144 games (strike shortened season), an average of 5.8 runs per game, could only muster 19 runs (3.2 runs per game) in the series.  A team that was shutout just three times in the regular season would be shut out in Game Six of the World Series in an excruciating 1-0 loss.

The 1997 Indians weren’t the favorites to win the World Series.  Instead, they had to fight and claw their way back to the World Series.  They needed the rookie Jaret Wright to become a Yankee killer and Sandy Alomar, Jr.Moi to hit a pivotal home run in what was going to be the Game 4 clincher of the ALDS for the defending champion Yankees.  Instead, the Indians persevered and would win their second pennant in three years after beating the Orioles in six in the ALCS.  It should be noted Armando Benitez took the loss in that game being a harbinger of things to come for Mets fans.

That 1997 World Series was thrilling with the Marlins and Indians alternating wins setting the stage for an epic Game 7.  The Indians had to like their chances with their newfound postseason hero Wright going up against Al Leiter.  The Indians had tattooed Leiter for seven runs in 4.2 innings in Game 4.  Leiter would never win a postseason start in his career.  While it was more of a challenge than the Indians expected, they hand their closer, Jose Mesa, on the mound with a 2-1 lead in the ninth inning.  Mesa would blow the game allowing Craig Counsell to hit a sacrifice fly to score Moises Alou (again how was he not the MVP of that series) to tie the game.  The Indians couldn’t touch the Marlins bullpen in extra innings.  Finally, in the 11th, Charles Nagy gave up the game winning hit to Edgar Renteria scoring Counsell of all people as the winning run.  That is as excruciating a loss as it gets for a fan.

There have been other tales of recent woe for this Indians fan base.  In 1998, the Yankees exacted revenge against Wright and the Indians by scoring five runs in the first inning off Wright en route to a Yankees 4-2 ALCS series win.  In 1999, the Indians blew a 2-0 series lead and a 5-2 lead in Game 5 to lose the ALDS to the Red Sox.  That game was memorable for Pedro Martinez‘s epic performance out of the bullpen.  The lean years were not too far away from here.

Then there was an Indians resurgence.  In 2007, the Indians had a 3-1 game lead over the Red Sox in the ALCS with Game 5 at home.  CC Sabathia just couldn’t close the deal, and the Indians bullpen would implode leading the Red Sox to their comeback.  Like the rest of baseball, the Indians would watch helplessly as the Red Sox would win their second World Series in four years.  To make matters worse, the small market Indians would have to break up the team.  Two years later, Indians fans would watch as Sabathia took the hill for the Yankees in Game One of the World Series against Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies.

In response, many Cubs fans will scream the Bartman Game!  One of their own prevented them from winning the pennant and going to the World Series back in 2003.  Of course, that narrative is a bit nonsense because there is a real debate as to whether or not Alou could catch that ball.  Furthermore, that didn’t cause Dusty Baker to leave Mark Prior out there too long.  It didn’t cause Alex Gonzalez to allow a double play ball to go through his legs.  It didn’t cause the Cubs to blow a 3-0 lead.  It certainly didn’t cause the Cubs and Kerry Wood to blow a 5-3 lead in Game 7.  Furthermore, it did not cause Cubs fans to try to ruin Bartman’s life.

Absolutely, blowing a 3-1 series lead when your team hasn’t won a World Series in nearly a century is devastating.  It was no more devastating than the Indians blowing the 2007 ALCS.  It is definitively not more devastating than the 1997 World Series.

Sure, it hurts to lose and not be competitive.  However, as a Mets fan I know the 2015 World Series loss was infinitely more hurtful than anything I saw from 1991 – 1996 or 2001 – 2004 or even 2009 – 2014.  No, it is hte misses that stick with you the longest.  Personally, I’m more haunted by Ron Darling pitching the worst game of his life against an unbeatable Orel Hershiser, Kenny Rogers walking Andruw Jones, Luis Sojo‘s two RBI single off Leiter, Carlos Beltran looking at an Adam Wainwright curveball, Eric Hosmer‘s mad dash to home plate, and any of the other events that led to those deciding plays which ended the Mets postseasons.

The Cubs may not have won since 1908, but the Indians fan base is the more tortured fan base.  They deserve this World Series title more than anyone.

IBWAA Hoyt Wilhelm Award – Addison Reed

The IBWAA Hoyt Wilhelm Award is for the best relief pitcher in the National League.  While the National League has had a number of good relievers this past season, there have been three clear standouts over the course of the season that deserves this award:

1st – Addison Reed

Given how Terry Collins has ridden his two best bullpen guys all season, this was a toss up between the two of them.  Looking at the numbers, Reed just had a better season.

Time and again, Collins has leaned on Reed in the high leverage eighth inning of games to preserve the Mets lead.  For a vast majority of the time, Reed has done that in impressive fashion.  In 80 appearances, Reed is 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.940 WHIP, a 10.5 K/9, 209 ERA+, and a 1.98 FIP.  Those 78 appearances are the third most in the majors (and National League).  His 1.97 ERA is fifth among National League relievers with at least 60 innings pitched.  His 2.9 WAR is the highest among relievers.  His WHIP ranks fifth among relievers.  By the way, Reed has made more appearances than the pitchers that are ahead of him in those categories.

This all speaks to how exceptional Reed has been in his role as the Mets eighth inning guy.  In fact, Reed’s 40 holds this season is the most in the majors.  In fact, it is 10 more than Kyle Barraclough who is in second place.  Reed is a huge reason why the Mets are close to unbeatable when they have the lead after seven innings.  In terms of a bullpen role, no one has done their job better than Reed, which is why he should be the Hoyt Wilhelm Award Winner.

2nd – Jeurys Familia

For the second straight season, Familia has been the most used, most durable, and best closer in the National League.

In 2016, Familia made more appearances, more innings pitched, and more saves than any other closer in all of baseball.  His 51 saves this season surpassed Francisco Cordero and Jose Valverde for the most saves in a single season by a Dominican born pitcher.  He has obliterated the Mets single season save record he once shared with Armando Benitez.  Keep in mind, a large part of his breaking the save records was because Familia kept the ball in the ballpark.  Over the course of the entire 2016 season, Familia has only allowed one home run.

Familia was also at his best when the Mets needed him to be at his best.  With the team needing each and every win possible in August and September, Familia was as dominant as he has ever been.  In that two month stretch, Familia made 27 appearances recording 14 saves with a 1.62 ERA, a 1.000 WHIP, and a 10.6 K/9 while limiting batters to a .186 batting average.

Overall, for the season, Familia was 3-4 with 51 saves, a 2.55 ERA, 1.210 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 161 ERA+, and a 2.39 FIP.  When you put up these numbers while your manager keeps throwing you into games without giving you much time off to rest, you have been the best closer in your league.  .

3rd – Seung-hwan Oh

Choosing the third reliever for this vote was a difficult task.  Both Mark Melancon and Kenley Jansen, who both had outstanding years again as closers for postseason teams.  However, the nod here went to The Final Boss for a number of reasons.

First, Oh made the second more appearances than Melancon and Jansen. His 2.8 WAR was also the second highest WAR posted by any relief pitcher in the National League.  He also helped saved a Cardinals bullpen and season by first being a dominant set-up man, and then being a dominant closer once Trevor Rosenthal went down with injury.  As a closer, Oh was 4-3 with 19 saves, a 2.27 ERA, 0.958 WHIP, and an 11.3 K/9.  For the season Oh made 76 appearances going 6-3 with 19 saves, a 1.92 ERA, 0.916 WHIP, 11.6 K/9, 214 ERA+, and a 2.13 FIP.

With that, Oh was about as dominant a relief pitcher as there was in the National League.  With him mastering multiple roles, and his stepping up to fill a huge void for a Cardinals team in the thick of the Wild Card race, he deserves the last spot on the ballot.