Opening Day was supposed to be on March 26. We were supposed to see Jacob deGrom outpitch Max Scherzer and out a damper on the Nationals World Series celebration. Due to COVID-19, that’s not happening, at least not yet.
This left SNY without a game to broadcast, they really have no sports to air. Really, they don’t even seem to have a plan on what to do, which is understandable.
Seeing as no one can be quite sure when baseball will be able to return, and with this being the 20th anniversary of the 2000 pennant, SNY should begin airing the 2000 season in its totality.
Each game aired on the same day it was 20 years ago. On March 29, 2020, the Mets should re-air the Japan Series with Mike Hampton taking the ball in his first ever start as a New York Met. The following day, they can air Benny Agbayani‘s Sayonara Slam.
If you recall back to that 2000 season, those games were aired around 5:30 A.M. local time. Now, those games can be aired at a more fan friendly time. Just like we normally see, begin the SNY broadcast around 7:00 P.M., and they can play the games in their entirety.
After the game, in lieu of a more traditional post-game show, they can have a retrospective. Fortunately for the Mets, they already have Todd Zeile as a studio analyst. In addition to Zeile, the Mets also have former Mets players like Edgardo Alfonzo, John Franco, and Al Leiter as team ambassadors.
Perhaps, SNY can get them to give their input of those games and/or their analysis of where the Mets were at that point in the season. Maybe, the team could also get Bobby Valentine and Mike Piazza to do some things for the team, and there is always Gary Cohen and Howie Rose who could find a way to contribute. After all, they have an encyclopedic memory of the team and all of their great seasons.
The team could even have fun with it talking to David Wright about what it was like growing up as a Mets fan and later getting to be teammates with some of these players. They could have Steven Matz, Rick Porcello, and Marcus Stroman give their take of what it was like being a Mets fan in New York at this time, and they could even have some fun discussions about bringing back those black jerseys.
Perhaps, running the 2000 games during their appointed times on the schedule would give fans a reason to tune in and watch Mets baseball. After all, there aren’t any other sports that are currently being aired anywhere. This could give us all a sense of normalcy we are currently striving to find, and it could create a little fun for us all.
Right now, now one knows when baseball can return, and the elephant in the room is if it can return. No one can be quite sure of that. Until that time, SNY can deliver us baseball until we actually have real games to watch.
On August 21, 2001, Mike Piazza hit an RBI single in the first inning, and Shea Stadium went crazy. They went crazy again when he homered in the second extending the Mets lead to 4-0 in a game they would eventually win 5-2. To be fair, Mets fans always went crazy whenever Piazza did anything, but this was heightened over what is usually was.
The reason for that was the hits came off of Mike Hampton, who had become public enemy number one among Mets fans. That’s an impressive feat when you consider at that time the Atlanta Braves had players like Chipper Jones and John Rocker.
With it being 20 years later, perhaps we should revisit exactly why Mets fans hate Hampton.
Things weren’t always this way with Hampton. Mets fans rejoiced when he was obtained from the Houston Astros. Even with the high price of Roger Cedeno and Octavio Dotel, Mets fans were envisioning a World Series with a pitching staff headed by Hampton and Al Leiter.
Hampton delivered on that promise. In 2000, he was 15-10 with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.346 WHIP. Overall, he was a top 10 pitcher in the National League with his having the fifth best ERA+, seventh best FIP, and the 10th best WAR. When you combine how good a hitter the 2000 Silver Slugger was, Hampton was everything the Mets hoped he would be.
He would then pitch the Mets to the World Series being the NLCS MVP after going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 0.813 WHIP in his two starts. It was Hampton who was on the mound when Rick Wilkins flew out to Timo Perez.
No, Hampton wasn’t particularly good in the World Series, but he wasn’t bad either. In his lone start, he took the loss in Game 2 after allowing four earned over six innings in the game forever known for Roger Clemens throwing a bat at Piazza.
In the offseason, Hampton was a free agent, and he did what almost every player did. He took the best offer given to him. In the end, it was a huge eight year $121 million deal from the Colorado Rockies. Hampton tried to spin it as being for family reasons, but it was a bit much to take for everyone. For example, Sandy Alderson, who was then a executive vice president for Major League Baseball said, “He’s an outstanding pitcher. It’s a lot of money. Case closed. I don’t want to hear about the Wheat Ridge (Colo.) school system.” (ESPN).
Hampton going to Colorado proved to be bad for him and the Mets. Hampton predictably struggled pitching in Coors Field, and the Mets never could quite assemble a roster which could take the Mets over the top. In fact, that offseason was one of the more disappointing in Mets history.
What began with visions of Alex Rodriguez and/or Hampton ended with Kevin Appier, Steve Trachsel, and Tsuyoshi Shinjo. Sadly, that is not an exaggeration. To hear the Mets tell it, A-Rod was a 24+1 player, and Hampton chose the Rockies not because they didn’t offer enough, but rather, for lifestyle reasons.
As Mets fans, knowing all we know now, should we continue to hate Hampton?
By now, we know better about how the Mets spend money. After all, it was prior offseason where Bobby Valentine called into question about the real reason John Olerud left. We also can’t begrudge Hampton for taking the most money, and when we look at his brief tenure with the Mets, he did everything we could have expected him to do.
Looking back, it does go back to that World Series game.
After the game, Hampton questioned Piazza’s reaction to Clemens saying, “I think we should’ve fought, to be honest with you. But that’s not my call. You can’t make something happen if guys aren’t going to defend themselves. Different people react differently. Mike’s a little calmer. I’m more hot-tempered. I would’ve reacted a little different.” (NY Post).
He wasn’t the only Met to feel that way with Lenny Harris also questioning Piazza’s reaction or lack thereof. What made it harder to take from Hampton is he didn’t exactly pitch lights out in that game, and he also didn’t exactly respond by going head hunting in the ensuing inning.
Since that game, Hampton has gone from beloved to hated. The switch flipped that fast. Aside from games he has appeared as a visitor, especially with the hated Braves, Hampton was stayed away.
That is until now. With this being the 20th anniversary of that pennant, Hampton has appeared at Spring Training with fellow members of that team like Turk Wendell and Glendon Rusch. By all accounts, the once detested Hampton has been welcome back at Port St. Lucie.
Perhaps, now, it is time to move on from out hatred of him. After all, the Mets not doing what was needed to keep him and replace him wasn’t his fault. That’s on the Mets. More to the point, no fan should be ever upset at a player for taking the best contract and situation for his family.
As for the World Series, well, it was massively disappointing for us all. Hampton and Piazza included. For any comments between the two, Piazza more than got his revenge hitting .294/.357/.569 off of him with two doubles, four homers, and 12 RBI.In the end, Hampton got it, and Piazza went to the Hall of Fame.
It’s been 20 years, and when you think about it, Hampton has a special place in Mets history. It’s now time to remember, honor, and celebrate it. It’s time to forgive. It’s time to cheer Hampton this year and welcome him with open arms.
The Mets have continued their recent push to honor their past by announcing they will induct Edgardo Alfonzo, Ron Darling, Al Jackson, and Jon Matlack into the Mets Ha of Fame. This is a very good group, and the Mets should be commended for taking this positive step.
That said, the Mets Hall of Fame is not as representative of the best players in team history, and the Mets still have work to do. On that front, here are five people the Mets should look to induct in the ensuing years.
Believe it or not, the Mets have yet to induct Wright into their Hall of Fame despite his being their all-time leader in many offensive categories, leading all Mets position players in WAR, and being the fourth Captain in team history.
Obviously, it’s only a matter of time before the Mets induct him, and very likely, it’s also a matter of time before the Mets retire his number five.
Leiter is arguably the third best left-handed starter in Mets history, and with his 124 ERA+, he’s definitively a top ten starting pitcher in Mets history. Expounding upon his ERA+, it’s third best in team history behind only Tom Seaver and Jacob deGrom among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings.
More than the numbers, Leiter was instrumental in those late 90s teams. His 1998 season was one of the best seasons a Mets starter ever had. The following year, he had one of the best starts a Mets pitcher ever had.
In the do-or-die Wild Card play-in game, Leiter pitched a two hit shut out against the Reds. Not only did the set the stage for the magical 1999 postseason run, it was very likely the best regular season start a Mets pitcher ever had in a must win game.
Overall, Leiter was a big game pitcher who was one of the best Mets starters ever. Given his impact on those Mets teams, you really cannot adequately tell the story of that era or the Mets as a franchise without mentioning him.
At the moment, Valentine has the third highest winning percentage, the third most wins, and the third most games managed in Mets history. He was the first manager to ever guide the Mets to consecutive postseasons.
Valentine was the perfect manager at the perfect time for the Mets. He always seemed to know the right button to push, including but not limited to his showing up in the dugout with just about the worst disguise you’ve ever seen after he was ejected.
More than the numbers, Valentine played an important role post 9/11. He was visiting firehouses and was at Shea Stadium when it was being used as a staging ground for the relief efforts. He also stood alongside his players in a NYPD cap as his players took the field for the rest of that season wearing the first responder caps.
The Mets are nearing a somewhat awkward situation with Cohen. The man who is very likely the best play-by-play announcer in the game has been a Ford C. Frick finalist, and he’s likely going to win the award at some point with his being eligible again in three years.
Effectively speaking, this would mean Cohen is in the Hall of Fame (albeit not formally inducted) but not the Mets Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, Cohen is already in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mets fans love Cohen not just for his being part of GKR, but also for his having some of the greatest calls in Mets history. The lifelong Mets fan always seems to be able to take a great moment and elevate it.
With his fellow broadcast partners, Keith Hernandez and now Darling being inducted, he should join them in short order. When he’s being inducted, he should be joined by Howie Rose, who is similarly great and also has some of the best calls in Mets history.
Seeing how Alfonzo was awkwardly fired from the Brooklyn Cyclones and just a few months later is going to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, there is actually precedent for Beltran being inducted after what has recently transpired.
Looking at his Mets career, Beltran is the best center fielder in team history, and you could argue he’s the best outfielder. Certainly, he’s the best free agent signing in team history.
Beltran ranks among the top 5 – 10 in many offensive categories, and he’s the only Mets outfielder with multiple Gold Gloves. In fact, Beltran joins Hernandez and Rey Ordonez as the only Mets to win at least three Gold Gloves.
Beltran was a leader of those Mets teams, and his 2006 season was one of, if not, the best season a Mets positional player ever has. On merit alone, he deserves induction into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Given recent events, it’s likely we won’t see that happen anytime soon. Beltran isn’t the only worthy individual who may not be inducted soon.
In fact, the same could be said about Nelson Doubleday, who is the only Mets owner with a winning record. With his acrimony with the Wilpons, it’s unlikely they move to induct their former business partner.
There are other individuals who could be considered. Johan Santana has thrown the only no-hitter in Mets history, Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single, Howard Johnson is the only player with multiple 30/30 seasons, and Curtis Granderson was a leader on the field and just about the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform.
All of this highlights how the Mets have a rich and full history, and it’s great to see them finally dedicated to recognizing and celebrating it.
While Steve Cohen has generally been an unknown to many Mets fans, he is a very famous person in the financial field inspiring books and televisions series. In fact, if you’ve ever seen the television show Billions, you get a glimpse of who Cohen is as it is a show loosely based on his life.
Specifically, it follows the investigation and criminal charges related to his alleged insider trading while he owned the now defunct SAC Capital. The end result of the indictment was Cohen paying $1.8 billion in fines, having to shut down the company, and his not being permitted to manage outside money for two years. To date, that is the largest fine ever paid.
As detailed in the New Yorker, this was not the first time Cohen had ever faced such charges, and even with the fines, it was not the only time he effectively beat the charges. In that articles, and in his persona showed in books and on television, Cohen is a rich, driven individual with a healthy ego, terrific instincts, and a winner-take-all mentality.
That is something which should be music to Mets fans ears.
He is someone when he finds something he loves, he does all he can do to get it. That is evidenced by his extensive art collection. Fortune estimates it is worth more than $1 billion, which parenthetically, is more than Fred Wilpon is personally worth. That collection includes a Picasso he purchased for $139 million and the L’homme au doigt sculpture for $141.3 million. Already, many have cracked jokes about how Cohen paid more for these pieces than the Mets have spent on any player, including David Wright and Jacob deGrom, who are the two highest paid players in team history.
As passionate as he is about his art collection, he may even more passionate about the Mets. As noted by the New York Times, Cohen is from Great Neck, and he grew up a Mets fan. He’s remained that way jumping on the chance to purchase an 8% share of the team in 2012. Moreoever, as noted by the New York Daily News, he counts Omar Minaya and Bobby Valentine as personal friends.
In addition to being personal friends, Cohen is soon going to be their employer. Under the terms of the agreement, Cohen will soon take a majority share interest in the team which will grow to 80% at some point over the ensuing five years. As part of that deal, Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon will remain in their respective roles as CEO and COO, but based upon those who know him, this may just be titles.
As noted by Forbes, people “do not believe for a second that the Wilpons will be running the team for a nanosecond if the transaction is approved by MLB.” When and if that happens, Cohen, who is estimated to be worth $13.2 billion, will become the richest owner in baseball.
There is real promise he wants to put that money into action. As a friend of Cohen’s told Joel Sherman of the New York Post, “He grew up a Mets fan [in Great Neck]. He went to games in the Polo Grounds. He has deep pockets. He is a passionate fan. If I were a Met fan, I would expect that means more money [for payroll].” Another Cohen friend told Mike Puma of the New York Post, “Cohen ‘will play the game at the highest level’ in regards to spending on players.”
This could be a new dawn for Mets fans. However, while Cohen has been approved by Major League Baseball to be a minority owner, there are some obstacles to his approval.
Cohen has been investigated multiple times for insider trading, and Major League Baseball may be shy at a time with the Astros cheating scandal, and with years ago, the Cardinals being the subject of an FBI hacking investigation. This is not the only issue with Cohen.
When SAC Capital was closed, he founded and ran Point72. That company was sued for gender bias accusing Cohen, his company, and its executives “violated equal-pay laws, engaged in gender discrimination and retaliated against her by denying a promotion after she reported her superior for harassment.” (CNBC). The case would be settled with no published details.
Even with Cohen’s charitable endeavors, specifically The Cohen Network, there has been some controversy. Fortune noted Cohen’s charity closed a clinic for veterans within a year, and it was noted the staff was told to “prioritize healthier patients over homeless veterans.” The article paints a picture of a disorganized foray into the field leading to a number of errors. However, it should be noted, the entire plan was not abandoned, and Cohen pushed onward.
Still, Cohen has something which has proven elusive to the Wilpons and the Mets for nearly a decade – financial stability. At a time where baseball is worried about attendance and interest in the game, Cohen buying the Mets is a breath of fresh air. It is set to rejuvenate the best fanbase in all of baseball in the largest media market in the world.
No matter what people think of Cohen, he has continued to show he will be successful at all costs, and so far, no one has been able to stop him from being successful. He’s now primed to take what made him enormously successful and richer than anyone in baseball and apply those talents and that wealth to the New York Mets.
By and large, it does seem like Mets fans are celebrating. Perhaps, it is because he is replacing an unpopular Mickey Callaway. It could be that after all this time the fans who had a certain level of frustration with him realized they were unfair, and with time having passed, they can better appreciate him. Whatever the case, the fans are excited, and that’s great.
Another factor here is after years where there was a hang up over Beltran wanting to sign with the Yankees in 2005, he made his intentions known he wanted to be a Met. As a result, Beltran only interviewed for the Mets job eschewing opportunities with the Cubs and Padres.
He now becomes the Mets first ever Hispanic manager. For what it’s worth, he was also their first true Hispanic superstar. As such, he is fully aware of what he’s taking on, and to that end, there’s arguably no one better to handle all that is coming his way.
His reward is not just being the Mets manager, but he’s also going to get to manage the Mets when they play in his home of Puerto Rico.
In Beltran, the Mets are getting a savant. As described in the book Astroball, Beltran picked up on things before the analytically driven team could. He also helped bring the team together as one unit. He accomplished that not just by being multilingual but a leader interested in making everyone in that clubhouse comfortable feeling like a member of the team.
With Beltran coming home to the Mets, we can envision how well it worked when other former Mets managed this team.
Gil Hodges engineered the 1969 Miracle Mets. Bobby Valentine was the first Mets manager who led the team to back-to-back postseasons. Most recently, Willie Randolph led the 2006 Mets to within an at-bat of a pennant.
Speaking of that at-bat, Beltran handled that with the class and dignity which has come to define him. He’s overcome both that and injuries to build a Hall of Fame career. He overcame all of that and some hard feelings which existed at the time he was traded for Zack Wheeler to not just want but to get the Mets manager job.
In the end, Beltran is back with the New York Mets where he belongs. After all these years, the fans love him, and he loves this team. He’s now coming home to where everything is possible.
He can guide the Mets to one or more World Series. He can join Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza in the Hall of Fame. His 15 will hang in left field with Casey Stengel‘s 37, Hodges’ 14, Seaver’s 41, Piazza’s 31, and soon Jerry Koosman‘s 36.
In fact, when all is said and done, Beltran could emerge as one of the most beloved figures in Mets history. To be able to even contemplate this is incredible, and it is a reason why Beltran returning to HIS Mets is a dream come true.
Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:
1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.
2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.
3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.
4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.
5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.
6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.
7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.
8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.
9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.
10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.
11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.
13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.
14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.
15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.
16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.
17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.
18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.
19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.
20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.
During the 2019 season, the New York Mets are going to wear all sorts of crazy caps for all sorts of reasons. Here are some examples of the hats MLB has chosen for their teams to wear to commemorate different dates on the calendar this year.
For Mother’s Day, teams wore special pink caps like they have for a few years now:
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 12, 2019
For Armed Forces Weekend, teams wore a special camouflaged cap:
— New York Mets (@Mets) May 19, 2019
For Memorial Day, all teams wore a patch on their cap and a poppy on their uniforms:
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) May 27, 2019
Like with the pink caps on Mother’s Day, there would be blue caps for Father’s Day:
— New York Mets (@Mets) June 16, 2019
For the Fourth of July, MLB teams would wear stars and stripes themed caps:
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 5, 2019
There would be more than few caps for the All-Stars for the game played in Cleveland:
The best of the National League and American League come together. Back your favorite All-Star with The Official On-Field Cap of the All-Star Game @NewEraCap https://t.co/ZGRczbaB9N pic.twitter.com/NajbWtRuHs
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 5, 2019
— New York Mets (@Mets) July 9, 2019
Then, to much controversy, there was the Player’s Weekend caps and uniforms the players and fans seemed to hate with the teams being forced to wear them:
This one was special. pic.twitter.com/BUpAP4jWt4
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 25, 2019
Crafty Matzy. 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/OCc0wQbAOm
— New York Mets (@Mets) August 25, 2019
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) August 25, 2019
So for the year, Major League teams have worn pink and blue caps. They’ve worn camouflaged and stars and stripes caps. There was two different All Star Game caps as well as black and white caps. What we won’t see is the First Responder caps the Mets wore after 9/11 to help a city and a country heal.
He helped the City heal after the 9-11 attacks. Hear @BobbyValentine reflect upon the Mets-Braves game, the first sporting event in NYC after September 11. Gives a vivid account of @mikepiazza31’s classic home run. https://t.co/4JxfLRbYVh pic.twitter.com/ofFA2IeFYi
— Jay Horwitz (@Jay_HorwitzPR) August 9, 2019
The reason we will not see the caps is because Major League Baseball will not allow it. To be fair, they didn’t allow it in 2001, but Todd Zeile would not stand for it, and he on the field with the rest of his teammates. He would have the support of his manager Bobby Valentine and the entire Mets organization.
The only thing Major League Baseball has permitted is for them to be worn pre-game when the game is not televised. It’s at the same time players can basically wear whatever they want making this nothing more than a hollow empty gesture especially since MLB officials go scrambling to collect the caps before the National Anthem.
As R.A. Dickey once noted, they’re not even allowed to be on the field for the commemorative ceremonies, and players are threatened with fines. The last player who tried to defy Major League Baseball to do the right thing was David Wright, but the caps were gone before he had the chance to do it.
To their credit, the Wilpons have tried and have been rebuffed. The players have tried and were rejected. The fans have begged for them. Through all of it, one thing remains clear: Major League Baseball still doesn’t care, and they clearly forgot.
Just remember that the next time you see a “fun” pink or blue cap on the field.
It doesn’t matter who is the General Manager or the manager. The Mets always want to tell everyone else they are wrong, and they are smarter than you. There is plenty of history on this front during the Wilpon Era.
Steve Phillips told us Alex Rodriguez was a 24 and 1 player. So, instead of pursuing A-Rod, he signed Tsuyoshi Shinjo, Kevin Appier, and Steve Trachsel to try to improve the team. When that didn’t work, he made a series of questionable moves over the ensuing two years which somehow led to Roger Cedeno being a center fielder. Ultimately, Bobby Valentine was fired, and he was not too far behind.
There were plenty of decisions past that point. The most recent example was Terry Collins‘ insistence that Michael Conforto was a platoon bat because he was a young left-handed hitter the team had no time to develop because they were trying to win. Somehow this led to Matt Reynolds making a start in left field despite never having played the position in his life.
Now, we are in the era of Brodie Van Wagenen and Mickey Callaway, and things remain the same way.
With Dominic Smith jumping out of the gate hitting well, Pete Alonso showing no signs of being overwhelmed as a rookie, and the team’s questionable outfield depth, everyone said it was time for Smith to get reps in the outfield again. Everyone included Mets hitting coach Chili Davis. The Mets scoffed at the idea and instead insisted it was better for Smith to be a younger version of Julio Franco or Lenny Harris.
The Mets gave up Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn in a deal which helped bring them Edwin Diaz. There were big games early in the season where the team needed their closer to go more than four outs. That was all the more the case with Jeurys Familia‘s struggles. But no, we were told Diaz is just a three out pitcher who was to be saved for save chances only.
To begin the season, Jacob deGrom had no consistency with the catchers behind the plate. That became more of an issue with Wilson Ramos not hitting or framing. Given how deGrom has reached Greg Maddux like status with this team, the strong suggestion was to make Tomas Nido his personal catcher as deGrom was the one pitcher who could easily overcome his lack of offense, especially with Nido’s pitch framing. Instead, the Mets said deGrom was not pitching well enough to warrant a personal catcher.
J.D. Davis was atrocious at third base. In fact, by DRS, he was the worst third baseman in the Majors. With him clearly not suited to the position, everyone said to the Mets they should at least try Davis in left field. It wasn’t until the Mets literally had no other choice that it would happen.
And that’s where we are now. The Mets are under .500 and in third place. Callaway’s job has seemingly become tenuous. Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are on the IL while Jeff McNeil is dealing with an abdominal issue. Justin Wilson is on the IL, and Familia just had another poor performance. Suddenly, the Mets, who knew better than everyone, suddenly don’t anymore.
Now, Smith will get reps in left field, and Davis can start playing out there more. Diaz can pitch more than three outs when the situation merits. Nido will now be deGrom’s personal catcher. Of course, the Mets waited a long time to finally admit they actually don’t know better than everyone. The question now is whether they waited too long.
Fortuantely, the Mets finally listened to everyone. Now, the goal is to finally get through to them that everyone else is indeed smarter than they are and that the Yankees financial model is sustainable. In fact, it could be sustainable for the Mets as well if they were willing to try.
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)
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.
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.
I do like the special days one. Personally, I thought Piazza’s 31 should’ve been in black.
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.
The real question: black uniforms or snow-whites?
James, black over the snow whites. Not close.
Whites were always too Brooklyn Dodgers for me
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.
I actually liked the ice cream hats on their own. With the white jerseys, they were terrible
They had a chance to bring back Mercury Mets on the 20th anniversary. Of course they blew it.
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.
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.
With the Mets hiring an agent as opposed to a front office baseball executive, you knew Brodie Van Wagenen was going to have a learning curve. As such, he was going to make some bad moves, and certainly, you knew he was going to make some curious decisions. Some may inure to the Mets benefit while others may not. If these questionable decisions do work out for the Mets, then a World Series may very well be in the team’s future.
Why Isn’t Cano Playing First Base?
Robinson Cano was the big bat the Mets acquired this offseason, and the plan is for him to be a fixture in the Mets lineup. However, that is for as many games as he is able to play. To his credit, Brodie Van Wagenen has been quite vocal about the need to give Cano more days off than he is accustomed due to Cano being 36 years old.
If we harken back to 1999, Bobby Valentine did this with a 40 year old Rickey Henderson to get the last good season out of Henderson. That also led to the Mets claiming the Wild Card and going to the NLCS.
For Cano, it is not just his age, but it is also his position. Players who play up the middle play the more taxing defensive positions in baseball. That takes more of a toll on a 36 year old player. Given Jed Lowrie‘s presence on the team, you have to wonder why the team doesn’t make Lowrie the second baseman with Cano playing first.
Putting Cano at first would be putting him in a position where he would not be as subject to fatigue over the course of the season. It should also be noted with Cano already 36 years old and his signed for five more seasons, it is a position switch he will eventually have to make. If he is going to have to make the switch, why not do it now so the Mets could coax more at-bats and games from him over the course of the season?
Where Is Davis Getting His Opportunity?
With J.D. Davis‘ minor league stats, you could make the argument all he needs to succeed at the Major League level is an opportunity to play at the Major League level. Certainly, it’s a fair point to raise when someone hits .342/.406/.583 in 85 Triple-A games and .175/.248/.223 in 42 MLB games.
The problem is you’d be hard-pressed to where exactly he would get that opportunity.
He’s behind Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie at the third base depth chart. He’s behind Peter Alonso and Frazier on the first base depth chart. He’s a right-handed compliment to right-handed hitters. He’s not suited to play outfield in the majors, and even if he was, he’s buried on the outfield depth chart as well. Combine that with Lowrie and Jeff McNeil being the versatile players on the roster, and you have to wonder where he gets hit at-bats.
After you are done contemplating that, you are left to wonder why the team would trade three good prospects in Luis Santana, Ross Adolph, and Scott Manea for him when they could’ve just as easily signed Mark Reynolds or Matt Davidson.
Was McNeil Playing LF the Original Plan?
One of the benefits of having McNeil on the roster is having a versatile player on the roster. Despite the team’s initial reluctance last year, he is someone who has received playing time at all four infield positions, and he has always trained in the outfield. To that extent, penciling him as the team’s starting left fielder, even against just right-handed pitching made a ton of sense.
That plan made even more sense when you consider Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both capable center fielders with Juan Lagares being the best defensive center fielder in the game. Really, breaking it down, moving McNeil to left field was probably the best way to handle the Mets resources.
However, the plan to move McNeil to left field does raise some interesting questions. For example, why didn’t the team send him to winter ball to play outfield. Also, why would the team expend resources to obtain Keon Broxton only to make him a fifth outfielder? Moreover, if McNeil is your outfielder, shouldn’t the team have a better insurance option against his inability to play left field than Broxton?
What’s the Plan for Backup Catcher?
When the Mets traded Kevin Plawecki to the Indians, they were effectively announcing Travis d’Arnaud was healthy enough to be the backup. That was called into question when Mickey Callaway said Devin Mesoraco signed with the Mets because of his relationship with Jacob deGrom.
It would seem if the Mets signed Mesoraco to catch deGrom the team now has one catcher too many. Does this mean the team is planning on moving him on the eve of Opening Day, or is Mesoraco willing to catch in the minors until the inevitable injury to d’Arnaud or Wilson Ramos. If that is the case, what impact does this have on Tomas Nido, and his future?
On the bright side, the Mets have good depth at the catcher position, but that only remains true to the extent they are keeping everyone. If they are the challenge is then to keep everyone happy and sharp, which is much easier said than done.
Where’s the Starting Pitching Depth?
With Jason Vargas struggling since the 2017 All-Star Break, you would have thought the Mets would have done more to address their pitching depth. That goes double when you consider the team traded Justin Dunn, their best starting pitching prospect, and with David Peterson and Anthony Kay being at least a couple of years away.
With the health issues facing Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, you would’ve thought the Mets would have been pressed more to add starting pitching depth. When you couple that with Van Wagenen knowing Jeff Barry councils his pitching clients to limit their innings, you would believe the Mets would have pressed to go more than four deep in the pitching rotation.
But the Mets haven’t. Not really. Their depth is essentially the same group who posted an ERA over 5.00 as MLB staters along with Hector Santiago, a pitcher now better suited to the bullpen.
When you look at this rotation the best health they had was in 2015, and that was a year the team needed 10 starting pitchers to get through the season. This team has nowhere near that type of depth.
As it turns out, more than anything, it may turn out to be the pitching depth which is the biggest key to the 2019 season. If the team is healthy, and deGrom and Syndergaard go against their agent’s advice, it is possible the team has enough pitching to get through the season. If the pitchers do impose pitching limits and there is more than one pitching injury, the team’s hopes of winning anything may be done, and that is even if the other questions are answered in the affirmative.