Apparently, the Mets and Nationals being rivals for a whole two seasons has lead a bunch of Mets fans to root for Chase Utley in the NLCS. Yes, rooting for the Dodgers, or against the Nationals, is rooting for Utley. As a Mets fan, I don’t get it. To me the Nationals are the lessor of two evils. Without even getting into the early years of the Mets history where the Dodgers, notably Sandy Koufax, routinely embarassed the Mets, here’s why:
Jay Howell is a dirty cheat:
Orel Hershiser effectively ends the best run in Mets history:
Dodgers sign Darryl Strawberry in free agency making him an ex-Met:
And, oh yeah, Bobby Ojeda.
Utley breaking Ruben Tejada‘s leg turning a potential sweep into a series:
Also, Utley’s subsequent cowardice ducking in and out of Citi Field and not taking one at-bat at Citi Field.
Speaking of which, everything Utley ever did to the Mets:
Seriously, did you know that other fans refer to the right field corner in Citi Field as the Utley Corner? It is one of the biggest humiliations the Mets have suffered at the hands of Utley and his Phillies teams including the 2007 and 2008 collapses. By the way, also part of those teams was current Dodgers catcher Carlos Ruiz.
So no, there is no circumstance, unless they are playing the Cardinals, that I could ever root for the Dodgers or an Utley led team. It’s why, despite this new massive rivalry the Mets have apparently had stretching all the way back to last year, I’m rooting for the Nationals. Personally, I’d rather have a little bit more perspective on Mets history past and present. Speaking of which, just remember that while Utley was always a thorn in the Mets side, Daniel Murphy was doing this for the Mets last year:
So overall, I’m siding with the team that has been a Mets rival for exactly two years and hasn’t done much harm to the Mets as a franchise over a team that put an end to the best run in Mets history, had players who consistently threw at Piazza, and have one of the dirtiest players in baseball.
Back in the 1980s, there was no doubt that Dwight Gooden was the most popular starting pitcher on the team. There was just a different buzz when he was on the mound as opposed to when Ron Darling, Bob Ojeda, or Sid Fernandez took the mound. The reason was that Gooden had unparalleled and electric stuff. As a result, it seemed Gooden was always pitching before a sellout crowd at Shea. It didn’t matter if it was a 10:00 A.M. game on a Monday against the Flushing Little League team, Shea Stadium would be sold out to see him pitch. Without a doubt, Gooden was a fan favorite.
As we saw with Gooden, attendance is a good measure to determine who the Mets fans favorite pitcher is. It is a measure which shows who the fans will pay to go see pitch. So far this season, the Mets have played 46 home games drawing 1,582,503 fans, which averages out to 34,402 fans per game. On average, Mets fans have paid to see Jacob deGrom over any other Mets pitcher this season:
To be fair, there are a number of factors that drives attendance other than the night’s starting pitcher. For example, fans are more apt to attend games over the weekend and on holidays (Memorial Day and the Fourth of July). For the purposes of this analysis, weekend games are classified as Friday through Sunday games. Over the course of the first 46 home games, the Mets have played 23 weekday games and 23 weekend and holiday games. In the Mets 23 home weekend and holiday games, the Mets have averaged 38,060 fans per game as opposed to 30,745 fans during the Mets 23 weekday games. Looking at weekend games, deGrom is still the pitcher that Mets fans are more likely to pay to see pitch:
With weekday games, the ones that take a little more effort to attend, we begin to see a shift away from deGrom. In fact, fans have come out to see Matt Harvey more than any other pitcher on weekday games:
There are other factors to keep into consideration as well. For example, one driving force behind attendance has been the Mets games against some of the better teams in baseball. In the Mets 30 home games against teams with a record over .500, the Mets average attendance is 35,415 per game. As we have already seen in some of the above analyses, more fans come out to see deGrom pitch against the better teams in baseball than any other Mets starter:
If teams that are over .500 are going to be of interest, it should come as no surprise that the Mets home games agains their 2015 postseason opponents have also driven attendance. In the Mets nine home games against their postseason rivals, the Mets average attendance has been 39,432. It should be noted that Harvey has not pitched against any of those opponents, nor will he with his season ending surgery. Furthermore, Steven Matz only made one start against such an opponent. With those factors in place, the starting pitcher the Mets fans paid most to see in the rematch games was Bartolo Colon:
Astoundingly, the Mets attendance against their NL East opponents has been poor. While the Mets have averaged 34,042 fans per game through the first 46 games of the season, they are only drawing an average of 33,044 fans for NL East opponents. Much of that is attributable to how bad the Braves and Phillies are. The Marlins aren’t exactly driving fans to the park either despite the Mets being in a Wild Card race with them. With that in mind, the fans want to see deGrom pitch against NL East opponents more than any other pitcher:
Looking at the attendance figures, the Mets have had 16 such games, and they are only drawing 32,504 fans per game. With respect to the other subset of games, this is the group the fans want to see the least. Generally speaking, there needs to be an incentive for the fans to go to the ballpark. Looking at the attendance figures more in depth, deGrom taking the mound seems to be an incentive for the fans to go out and see the Mets play a bad baseball team:
Weighing each of these factors, the attendance figures suggest that Jacob deGrom is the Mets fans favorite starting pitcher with Noah Syndergaard not too far behind. These numbers shouldn’t be that surprising as deGrom and Syndergaard have been the Mets two best pitchers all year, and will likely be the starters for Game One and Game Two of this year’s NLDS.
A woman is on the hotel bed before her husband pulls her off the bed. He proceeds to push her. When that isn’t enough, he grabs her around the throat and throws her into a sliding glass door leading out to a balcony. There’s an ensuing crash that stirs security.
The husband and wife are separated by security. The wife requests a medic to come to the hotel to treat injuries to her left leg and scratches to her throat – the same throat her attacker grabbed before throwing her into a glass door. When medics arrive to treat, it’s agreed she should get further treatment at the hospital. During the time period she is separated from her husband, the wife cooperates with the police and gives them sufficient information to file a police report and have the District Attorney’s Office proceed with pressing charges against the husband.
The prosecution is ready to go to trial. However, the trial never happens. The victim wife refuses to cooperate. The husband now is a free man. If you didn’t know it by know, that’s what we know happened with Jose Reyes and his wife.
Yes, there are various people saying there could have been any number of things that could have happened in the room that have gone unreported. That is undeniably true. You could say there was alcohol or that she was antagonizing him verbally or that she had the audacity to fight back causing Reyes to escalate the violence. There are a number of scenarios you could conjure up to make the October 31, 2015 incident between Reyes and his wife seem better or worse depending on your point of view. No matter what you think might have or could have transpired, we don’t know anything different from Reyes’ wife’s account as no one has presented anything contradicting her statements to the police. Even if you have a doubt in your mind as to everything that transpired, Reyes still hit his wife, and that is inexcusable.
To say the Rockies thought so as well when they released him is not being completely honest. The Rockies’ shortstop of the future, Trevor Story, has played well enough that they don’t need Reyes. There is no way you’re considering Reyes at third when you have Nolan Arenado. Same goes for second with DJ LeMahieu. It was easy for them to take a principled stand when they had no room for a greatly diminished Reyes on the roster. It’s a whole other matter when you actually have a need for Reyes as the Mets apparently think they do know when they signed him to presumably play third base.
WHY THE REUNION MAKES SENSE
As a pure baseball decision, a Mets-Reyes reunion makes sense. He Reyes is flat out a better ballplayer than Eric Campbell and Ty Kelly. Even with how well he’s played since his recent call-up, it’s hard to fathom that Matt Reynolds is a better baseball player than Reyes. Maybe, just maybe, you could argue that he’s a better everyday option than Wilmer Flores despite having never played third base in the majors. In that sense you can understand the signing.
Another reason for the reunion is because everyone remembers what Reyes used to be. As a Met, he was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 11 triples and 41 stolen bases a year. He was electric in the field and on the base paths. He’s the Mets all-time leader in stolen bases and triples. He’s the best shortstop in Mets history. He was a beloved player, and many wish he never left the Mets in the first place.
However, as is apparent with that October 31, 2015 incident, Reyes is not who Mets fans think he is.
WHY REYES ISN’T A FIT FOR THE ROSTER
Since he left the Mets, Reyes has gotten progressively worse. Last year when the Blue Jays were chasing their first playoff berth since 1993, they moved Reyes, who had become a liability, for Troy Tulowitzki. At that time, Reyes was only hitting .285/.322/.385 with no triples and only 16 stolen bases. When he went to the Rockies, he complained about the trade and openly stated he wanted out. He finished the year hitting .259/.291/.368 in Coors Field of all places. He played a poor shortstop in both places.
Both Coors Field and the Rogers Centre are known as hitter’s parks, and last year Reyes didn’t hit much in either park. Clearly, the Mets hope is that Reyes will be rejuvenated by becoming a Met again. It’ll be interesting to see if it comes to be especially since Citi Field is decidedly less hitter friendly than either ballpark Reyes called home last year. In the event Reyes doesn’t produce, the Mets will be left in a difficult situation as they may need to bench Reyes. Seeing how he reacted in Colorado, it is fair to question how he would accept a benching.
Ultimately, you could understand the Mets rolling the dice on Reyes if the other options didn’t work. However, the Mets haven’t tried everything.
Earlier in the year, the Mets passed on Ruben Tejada even though he was better than Reyes last year, has actually played third base, and did a good job as a utility player for the Mets last year. The Mets still haven’t tried Dilson Herrera at second base this year like they had done in years past. The Mets made this move before finding out if Yusilesky Gourriel could be a viable option for the team this year. There are other options on the trade market as well.
However, the Mets decided to sign Reyes despite the fact that he may be a distraction (aside from any perceived clubhouse issues that arose in Colorado). The Mets will have to address the domestic violence issues upon officially signing Reyes. They may have to do it more frequently than that. There may be various advocacy groups who seek to have protests or other efforts to denounce the Mets and Reyes. It’s the type of situation the Mets tried to separate themselves from back in 2010.
THE K-ROD INCIDENT
In 2010, it was alleged Francisco Rodriguez unleashed a verbal tirade against his girlfriend. When her father sought to intervene, K-Rod proceeded to punch him. He continued to punch him and bang the man’s head against a wall. The Mets initially put K-Rod on the restricted list for two days. When it was discovered K-Rod injured his thumb in the altercation, the Mets put K-Rod on the disqualified list and withheld the remaining $3.1 million from his 2010 salary. They further sought to make his contract non-guaranteed, but ultimately backed off that stance once K-Rod filed a grievance.
Unlike Reyes, the charges were not dropped against K-Rod. In the offseason, he would plead guilty to the misdemeanor. Part of his sentence was to undergo therapy. Presumably, this therapy is similar in nature to the therapy Reyes is currently undergoing as part of his MLB suspension.
It is worth mentioning that in 2012 K-Rod was arrested again for domestic violence. In this incident, it was alleged that he struck his girlfriend in their home (different girlfriend than the one he had in 2010). K-Rod would not stand trial for this incident as the alleged victim recanted her story that K-Rod caused her injuries, and the two key witnesses were flown back to Venezuela.
In that offseason, K-Rod would re-sign with the Milwaukee Brewers who cheered him after each and every strikeout and each and every scoreless appearance. It was not too dissimilar to how the Mets fans cheered K-Rod in 2011 when he recorded 23 saves before being traded to the Brewers.
When Reyes ultimately steps back on the field, he is going to be cheered again by Mets fans. He will be greeted with JOSE! chants. This really shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Ultimately, fans want to cheer for players no matter how despicable they are. Anyone who read the book, The Year the Bad Guys Won, knows about the various and sundry issues with the 1986 Mets. There was Darryl Strawberry and his having fist fights with his wife. There was Dwight Gooden‘s problem with drugs that go so bad he missed the championship parade because he was high at his dealer’s apartment in the projects. Ron Darling, Tim Teufel, Bob Ojeda, and Rick Aguilera got into a bar fight in Houston where they assaulted bouncers who turned out to be off-duty police officers. This is just a snippet of the problems with this team. Still, these players are forever revered and will be cheered wherever they go now matter what happens.
They are cheered because they produce. It’s the same way with this team. Terry Collins is beloved by many. However, many overlook his past drunk driving conviction. Bartolo Colon can seemingly do no wrong except when it comes to using steroids and failing to pay child support. There are Mets who have done far worse than either of these guys. Some of these acts are know. Others aren’t. Still, fans cheer them for their performance on the field. In that way, Mets fans are no different than other fans. We have to look no further than the Yankee fans cheering Aroldis Chapman in his first game back from his own suspension.
WHAT FANS ARE ACTUALLY CHEERING
Still, when Mets fans are cheeering Reyes, they are cheering for a player that beat his wife to the point where she needed to go to the hospital.
Furthermore, most Mets fans, even those who didn’t want Reyes in the first place, still want the team to succeed. Most will cheer him if he makes a big defensive play or gets a big base hit. Mets fans cheered Bobby Bonilla when he got hits, and there may be no more reviled Met than him (NOTE: only comparing fan reception as Bonilla has never been charged with a crime). You may not want Reyes on the team, but you want the Mets to succeed. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of Reyes, that means you too want Reyes to succeed.
If all goes according to plan, Reyes will be an important part of the Mets, and he will help the Mets win the World Series. If that is the case then in some sick, twisted way, you could say the best thing that happened to the 2016 Mets was the October 31, 2015 incident.
WHERE I STAND
Being completely honest, I’m going to root for the Mets whether or not Reyes actually plays for them this year. Even if I won’t purchase any tickets directly from the Mets, I will still use the tickets in my possession. When Reyes comes up to bat or makes an error, I’ll boo. I’m not going to participate in any JOSE! chants. When he gets a hit or makes a good defensive play, I’ll cheer. It’s the same way I reacted to Bobby Bonilla, even if that is an unfair comparison.
For Reyes, I want him to be worth it. I want him to do more than show he’s atoned. I want him to speak out on the matter (even if it’s complicated as the statute of limitations has not expired). I want him to show he’s a better person for having gone through this incident. Whether or not October 31, 2015 was an isolated incident, I want the physical altercations between him and his wife to cease. I want his family to be safe.
On the field, I want the Mets to win the World Series this year no matter who is on the roster. With that said, it will be a bit unsettling having Reyes be an important part of the equation. I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that the Mets might be able to win a World Series because Reyes beat his wife. Having Reyes contribute will take some of the joy out of winning – whether it be a game or a World Series.
I remember back in 2000, the stories were that Bobby Valentine needed to make the World Series in order to keep his job. The amazing thing is he actually did it.
Just think about everything that had to happen that year for the Mets to make the World Series. First, the Mets had an overhaul of its outfield during the season. On Opening Day, the Mets outfield was, from left to right, Rickey Henderson–Darryl Hamilton–Derek Bell. At the end of the year, it was Benny Agbayani–Jay Payton-Derek Bell. Agbayani was only on the Opening Day roster because MLB allowed the team to have expanded rosters for their opening series in Japan.
On top of that, Todd Zeile was signed to replace John Olerud. Zeile had to become a first baseman after playing third for 10 years. Edgardo Alfonzo had to adapt from moving from the second spot in the lineup to the third spot. The Mets lost Rey Ordonez to injury and first replaced him with Melvin Mora for 96 games before trading him for the light hitting Mike Bordick. More or less, all of these moves worked. Then came the postseason.
A lot happened in the NLDS. After losing Game One, the Mets faced a quasi must win in Game Two. They were leading before Armando Benitez blew a save. I know. I’m shocked too. The Mets regained the lead, and they won the game when John Franco got a borderline third strike call against Barry Bonds. In Game Three, the Mets won on a Agbayani 13th inning walk off homerun. This was followed by Bobby Jones closing out the series on a one-hitter.
The Mets were then fortunate that the Braves lost to the Cardinals in the other NLDS series. The Mets tore through the Cardinals with new leadoff hitter Timo Perez. We saw all that luck run out in the World Series. We watched Zeile’s potential homerun land on top of the fence and bounce back. On the same play, Perez was thrown out at home. In the same game, Benitez blew the save. Unfortunately, there were no more heroics.
We saw this repeated in 2015. The epically bad Mets offense had to have its pitching hold things together until help came. Part of that required the Nationals to underperform while the Mets were fighting tooth and nail just to stay in the race.
In the NLDS, the Mets were on the verge of elimination. They weren’t eliminated because somehow, some way Jacob deGrom pitched six innings with absolutely nothing. The Mets then needed Daniel Murphy to have a game for the ages. He stole a base while no one was looking, and he hit a big homerun. It was part of an amazing run through the postseason for Murphy. Like in 2000, it came to a crashing halt in the World Series.
No matter how good your team is, it takes a lot of luck to win the World Series. Look at the 86 Mets.
In the NLCS, they barely outlasted the Astros. In Game Three, they needed a Lenny Dykstra two run homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-5. In Game Five, Gary Carter hit a walk off single in the 12th to send the Mets back to Houston up 3-2. It was important because they didn’t want to face Mike Scott and his newfound abilities. With that pressure, they rallied from three down in the ninth, blew a 14th inning lead, and nearly blew a three run lead in the 16th inning.
Following this, the Mets quickly fell down 0-2 in the World Series before heading to Boston. After taking 2/3 in Boston, the Mets had to rally in the eighth just to tie Game Six. There are books that can be written not only about the 10th inning, but also Mookie Wilson‘s at bat.
First, they had to have a none on two out rally with each batter getting two strikes against them. For Calvin Schiraldi to even be in the position to meltdown, he had to be traded by the Mets to the Red Sox heading into the 1986 season. In return, the Mets got Bobby Ojeda, who won Game Three and started Game Six. John McNamara removed Schiraldi way too late and brought in Bob Stanley. His “wild pitch” in Mookie’s at bat allowed the tying run to score. You know the rest:
By the way, keep in mind Bill Buckner wasn’t pulled for a defensive replacement. Also, the Mets had to rally late from 3-0 deficit just to tie Game Seven.
We need to keep all of this is mind when setting expectations for the 2016 season. Terry Collins is right when he says World Series title or bust is unfair. We know way too much can happen between now and the World Series. Right now, the only goal should be winning the NL East. If the Mets do that, they have met their reasonable expectations. After that, the Mets are going to need a little luck to win the World Series.
Perhaps, the Mets biggest free agent remains unsigned. No, not Yoenis Cespedes. I’m of course referring to Keith Hernandez. As Adam Rubin reported, Keith remains unsigned. Most people expect him to return. I wouldn’t be shocked if he didn’t.
We know this isn’t the first time it was rumored that Keith was leaving SNY. There was his infamous 2009 sign-off where he hinted he may not return. As we know, Keith returned, and he has been a part of the Gary, Keith, and Ron (GKR) booth ever since. So, why is this time any different?
For starters, we had the Bobby Ojeda situation last year. Every Mets fan seemed to enjoy his work. I believe that was because Ojeda didn’t mince words. He called it as he saw it. Mets fans appreciated it regardless of whether we agreed with him or not. Unsurprisingly, it was reported the issue was money. Ojeda was replaced with Nelson Figueroa, who was presumably cheaper and definitively less critical.
We don’t currently know what the reason why Keith’s deal hasn’t been completed. We also know this isn’t the first time this offseason it was rumored the GKR booth was breaking up. There were the rumors Ron Darling may be poached by NESN to call Red Sox games. It turns out there was nothing to the rumors as Ron never had any conversations with NESN. I still question how those rumors arose.
What we do know is the Mets have been penny pinching this offseason. Instead of $12.5 million a year for Daniel Murphy, it’s around $9 million for Neil Walker. Instead of $9 million for Jon Niese, it’s $7.25 million for Bartolo Colon. Free agent Tyler Clippard earned $8.3 million last year, but the Mets did bring back Jerry Blevins for $4 million. Then there’s every Mets fans’ favorite, Cespedes was paid $10.5 million last year, and he remains unsigned (he seems to want double that). In his stead is the $5.75 million Alejandro De Aza. The total savings of those moves is $14.3 million.
Sure, I didn’t include the $8.25 million to Asdrubal Cabrera. That would reduce savings to $6.05 million. However, I also didn’t include the retirement of Michael Cuddyer, which took $12.5 million off the books. In total, that’s $18.55 million in savings. The Mets have increased revenues and attendance, and yet, they’re still cutting corners. Put aside your feelings on the wisdom of these moves, it’s fair to say the Mets saved money in each mechanation.
With that in mind, why should we feel the Wilpons will act differently with SNY? They already did it with Ojeda. Is Keith really immune to cost cutting measures? I’d argue no, and admittedly fans are partially to blame.
Be honest with yourself. If Keith is gone, will you stop watching Mets games in 2016? Of course not. You’re watching them to see if they can go back to the World Series. As we all know, there is higher attendance figures and higher ratings when a team is good. The Mets could hire Joe Buck and Bobby Bonilla to call the games, and you’d still watch. It may be on mute, but you’d still watch.
That’s the reason I wouldn’t be surprised if Keith wasn’t re-signed. The Mets are good again. SNY doesn’t need GKR to help drive ratings. They have a good team to do that. With all that said, I still believe Keith will be back next year.
However, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he wasn’t.
You never know what is going to happen before or during a postseason series. How a team responds to it may determine if a team wins or loses a series.
I was reminded of that with another playoff series against the Dodgers. Both times the Mets played the Dodgers, one of their starting pitchers was injured.
In 1988, Bobby Ojeda suffered a potentially career ending injury on the same day the Mets clinched at least a tie atop the NL East. It threw the Mets postseason rotation off kilter. Dwight Gooden started Games 1 and 4 (on three day’s rest). He wouldn’t make another start in the series.
I still don’t know what Davey Johnson was thinking. The Mets had a 2-1 series lead. They already won a game in which Orel Hershiser started. Johnson unnecessarily went to Gooden on three days rest, and then he left him in too long. Even more baffling is the fact that Johnson went to Sid Fernandez in Game 5 with the series tied 2-2.
Honestly, I don’t think Johnson doesn’t make a ponderous decision like this if Ojeda was able to pitch. Ojeda was 2-0 in the 1986 postseason. He stabilized things in Game 3, and he gave the Mets a chance in Game 6. Johnson doesn’t skip his start in 1988, and the Mets probably don’t blow that series.
Eighteen years later, the Mets again found themselves facing the Dodgers in the playoffs. Again, a key starting pitcher went down. Two days before the NLDS, El Duque, the scheduled Game 1 starter, went down with a torn calf muscle. Keep in mind, he was the second choice after Pedro Martinez suffered a rotator cuff injury.
Willie Randolph gave the ball to John Maine. Maine lasted 4.1 innings before hitting trouble. Randolph quickly turned to his incredible bullpen who brought it home. The Mets responded better to the problem in 2006, and they won the series.
It’s possible the Mets have already been presented with their Ojeda-El Duque dilemma with Steven Matz. Matz slept on a sofa, and he injured his back. The Mets now have a critical decision to make, especially with Matz having a successful simulated game. If he responds well, he may be on the roster. If not, it will be Sean Gilmartin.
Whomever the Mets choose, history shows it’s not who you pick that’s important. It’s how you respond to the crisis that’s important. Fortunately, this is one of Terry Collins’ strengths. Hopefully, there won’t be any more surprises.
Lets Go Mets!
Whether people in Los Angeles know it, these two franchises will forever be linked. As many of you younger Mets fans (I can still call myself that, right?), many of our fathers grew up as a Brooklyn Dodger fan. They became Mets fans because the Dodgers left town.
The Mets came into existence as a result of the Dodgers moving from Brooklyn. The Mets owners won’t quite let the Dodgers go. The teams have also shared stars.
You know what’s insane about that play? You know other than it happened. Former Dodger Shawn Green relayed the ball to former Dodger Jose Valentin, who threw the ball to former Dodger Paul Lo Duca. The first runner tagged out was former Met Jeff Kent. It seems that J.D. Drew wasn’t supposed to be part of this play at all.
In any event, rather than go on about how much I hate the Dodgers (don’t worry, that’s coming tomorrow) I thought it would be fun to name the best players who have played for the Mets and Dodgers.
Some ground rules. I want someone who played well with the Mets and Dodgers. Using a Giants example, I’m not picking Willie Mays for CF even though he could be the greatest CF in MLB history. I want someone like Piazza, who was great (or at least good) with both teams. So, here’s my list:
P – Bobby Ojeda
C – Mike Piazza
1B – Eddie Murray
2B – Jeff Kent
3B – Todd Zeile
SS – Jose Vizcaino
LF – Danny Heep
CF – Brett Butler
RF – Darryl Strawberry
Honestly, I thought this team would be better. The main problem was the derth of left fielders. Another problem was someone like Zeile. He played 3B for the Dodgers, but he mostly played 1B for the Mets. As you can tell, I leaned towards the player who was better as a Mets. If there are any suggestions, I’ll be happy to update this list.
As we know, the Dodgers and Mets have a complicated history. The next chapter begins tomorrow night. Lets Go Mets!
You know sometimes we forget about the impact Keith Hernandez had upon his teammates.
After Hernandez left the Mets, David Cone switched his number from 44 to 17 to honor his former teammate. He would wear it again with the Royals. His fellow color commentator, Ron Darling, wore 17 while a member of the Athletics. Bob Ojeda and Roger McDowell did the same with their future teams. In fact, they occupied the number during Mike Piazza‘s early tenure with the Dodgers. This is interesting because Piazza wanted number 17:
Mets connection with 31, I grabbed it as a rookie b/c Roger McDowell took 17 after Bob Ojeda left LA, hmm?
— Mike Piazza (@mikepiazza31) August 27, 2015
When Piazza joined the Mets, John Franco gave him his number 31. It was a terrific gesture that was part of a full court press to make Piazza comfortable and to get him to resign with the Mets. Piazza’s chosen number,17, was taken by Luis Lopez. He’s one of the many who have had the number that drives Hernandez nuts. I’m assuming Piazza never asked for the number.
With Piazza on the verge of being elected to the Hall of Fame, I presume the Mets would retire his number during the following season. We know that number will be 31. While Franco was a fine Met and a good closer, I’m sure there will be no groundswell to retire the number in his honor as well.
Now if Piazza wore 17, I’m assuming the Mets would’ve told Luis Lopez to find another number. If Piazza’s number 17 was retired, there would’ve been a major groundswell to retire the number in Hernandez’s honor as well. We know there is one already amongst the fan base. Retiring Piazza’s number might’ve created an avenue to retire the number of a popular player and broadcaster. However, Piazza never got to wear 17, and it’s Hernandez’s fault.
He left a tremendous impact with the fans and his teammates. The fans and his teammates wanted to honor him. It’s ironic this impact is what is preventing him from having his number retired.