As Mets fans, we debate as to what the greatest moment was in Mets history, and we typically get it wrong. It wasn’t Cleon Jones catching Davey Johnson‘s fly ball. It wasn’t Gary Carter leading the impossible rally in Game 6, or Jesse Orosco striking out Marty Barrett for the final out. There are plenty of other moments fans can pinpoint. They’re all wrong.
The greatest moment in Mets history happened on April 3, 1966. That was the date the Mets were awarded the rights to Tom Seaver by Commissioner William Eckert.
Up until that time and not too long thereafter, the Mets were a laughingstock. In their first four and five of their first seasons, they lost over 100 games. Considering those more than humbling beginnings and how he completely changed the team, you understand how the Mets truly became a “Franchise” when Seaver joined the team.
The 19 strike out game. The 1971 season. The 1973 season. Game Five of the 1973 NLCS. Seaver’s return to the Mets in 1983 and making his final Opening Day start with the Mets, which was the 14th of his Major League record 16 Opening Day starts.
His 41 was the first number retired in honor of a Mets player. In 1992, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 98.8 percent of the vote. It was then a record for highest ever percentage and one which still stands for starting pitchers.
He and Mike Piazza closed Shea Stadium and would open Citi Field.
Through it all, Seaver is the only player in Major League history with a Rookie of the Year and multiple Cy Youngs. His 12 All Stars are the most among right-handed starters in Mets history. His 110.1 WAR is the highest WAR among (non-PED) pitchers in the post WWII Era and the sixth highest all-time.
Since 1920, he’s the only pitcher who had a quality start in over 70 percent of his starts.
All told, Seaver was 311-205 with a 2.86 ERA and 3,640 strikeouts.
He owns nearly every Mets pitching record – wins (198), ERA (2.57), innings (3045.2), starts (395), complete games (171), shutouts (44), and strikeouts (2541). His 76.1 WAR with the Mets is easily the best in Mets history.
In fact, it took Seaver just seven seasons to post a higher WAR than what took David Wright, who is second on the Mets career WAR rankings, to post in 13 years. The 41.2 WAR Seaver posted over the first six years of his career is just .4 behind the 41.6 WAR Dwight Gooden posted in his 11 year Mets career.
No matter how you analyze it, Seaver is easily the best player in Mets history.
During his time with the Mets, he gave Mets fans so many memorable moments. That makes his dementia diagnosis all the more heartbreaking. We can remember all the reasons why he was great, and we can remember all the great games and moments at a time when Seaver is being robbed of those moments.
He’s being robbed of those moments at the same time as his former teammate Bud Harrelson, a man who fought through tears the first time he faced Seaver as an opponent, is battling Alzheimer’s. As anyone who has seen loved ones suffer from this disease, you know how heartbreaking this is.
That’s what this is – heartbreaking. Seaver loses the memories we all cherish. He can’t be there to celebrate the anniversary of a World Series he made possible. Worse than that, his memories of his family and loved ones will eventually fade.
No one deserves this. Not Seaver. Not a Hall of Famer. Not the man who made the Mets, the Mets. Not a husband, father, and grandfather. No one.
But he is because life isn’t fair. This means he misses out not just on what’s to come (1969 reunion or a statue whenever it comes), but worse yet, all that’s already happened. His family gets to watch on while they lose a man who was much more than a Hall of Fame pitcher to them.
Heartbreaking. Just heartbreaking.
Lost in the Mets terrific start to the season has been the fact the Mets family has been hit by some tragedy. There was the death of Rusty Staub, and the first Mets player inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, Bud Harrelson, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
This leaves many of us wondering what we could do to help not just Bud, but also the many who are affected by Alzheimer’s. Even if you don’t have the means to make a contribution, there is something you can do – Subscribe to and watch Carl Ruiz’s YouTube channel entitled OMG Carl’s Food Show.
— Carl Ruiz (@carlruiz) March 28, 2018
Personally, I have come to know Carl not just from having gone to Marie’s (before it was made famous), but also because of his radio work with Opie and because of his dominance on Guy’s Grocery Games (GGG).
Like many, myself included, Carl’s family has been affected by Alzheimer’s.Â Sadly, he would lose his father to the disease. If you watch GGG or follow him on Twitter, you know he has decided to take action by raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association. To help him in this endeavor, all you have to do is watch one of his reviews of famous chain restaurants.
While you may not always agree with what he says, like McDonald’s French Fries falling just below the mark of being dubbed “Beyond Reproach,” he was spot on with his analysis of Chick-fil-A waffle fries. Honestly, his review of that renewed my faith in the human race after The Ringer‘s embarrassing venture into this field.
Overall, if you want to be entertained by a great chef giving an honest and interesting review of fast food, you should check out the videos. If not, do it to help those suffering from Alzheimers.
On Sunday, I published a tongue-in-cheek recommendation as to what promotions the Mets should have during the 2018 season. The original concept of the post was the Mets promotional schedule feels like it is lacking this year, and the team should be looking for better ways to honor their players.
With that in mind, I asked the Mets Blogger Roundtable what promotions they would like to see the Mets institute during the 2018 season:
The Mets should re-introduce Old Timers Day. Promotions are nice, but they generally consist of things which either break, get lost, forgotten, or all three. Old Timers Day can be traditional and memorable as fans connect emotionally with the players. Sure, there’s no sponsored bobble head doll, hat, or a fidget spinner that goes with it – sometimes the greatest souvenir can be reconnecting with the past, which is why what such a day would be so great for everyone involved.
There was a character on “Rick and Morty” called “Mr. Meeseeks.” He lived only to fix one problem of yours before ceasing to exist. He wanted to cease to be, is the thing – his catch phrase is “Existence is pain!” Naturally, some unknown hero on the internet created a “Mr. Metseeks.” My interpretation of Mr. Metseeks is Mr. Metseeks cannot die until the Mets win the World Series. We all started kind, then have only grown more bitter, and increasing irritated over the years, when the Mets did not fulfill their destiny. We are all Mr. Metseeks. Let’s have an action figure of ourselves some Saturday in 2018. Why? Because a “Jay Brews” shirt sends the wrong message to the youths.
Ernest Dove (MMO & MMN)
As a South Florida resident and fan of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, I can’t help but suggest the MLB Mets model the St. Lucie Mets with $1 beer $1 hot dog night. With ticket prices continuing to skyrocket, I think it would be a great idea for Mets to win over their fans with a night of cheap food and drinks. I’m not suggesting bottles of beer. I’m talking $1 plastic cups here. It might pack the place. And along with the obvious on the alcohol, this would also allow for parents to ensure all their kids are fed. Do it!
Old Timer’s Day; as a kid I always loved Mets Old Timer’s Day, and frankly, I miss it dearly.
In 2009, the New York Times quoted then-Mets executive Dave Howard: “It was particularly unpopular as a promotion. We didn’t see an increase in ticket sales or interest from sponsors or even from people who already had tickets. It died of its own unpopularity in the early ’90s. We felt we were better served by bringing our alumni back over several days instead of one day.”
Now, I liked Dave Howard, nice guy, but that statement was crap. a) outside of a rare 1986 tribute when the hell do the Mets ever “bring their alumni back?”
Maybe be creative? Maybe call it “Amazin Day,” and combine the old Photo Day with an autograph day, have the former Mets like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Art Shamsky, Mookie Wilson, Rusty Staub, Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, Felix Millan, etc. gather at Citi Field and have a Mets fan’s dream of a day? Yeah, it would cost money, but it’d be sold out and there are a thousand marketing ideas that would make it a must-have ticket (and memorabilia money maker) every year!
The idea that Mets fans wouldn’t embrace a day to celebrate their team’s history is ridiculous.
I wish it was only a cost-effectiveness issue. But it’s not. Frankly, the Mets can’t even send out a promo video without doing something dumb like trying to avoid the existence of a 20-game winner who just won the organizations first Cy Young Award in almost 30 years. It is the fear of ridicule, of blowback, and of honest feedback from a fanbase that’s tired of the losing and the stupidity. In 1989, Davey Johnson was omitted from the list of some two dozen people invited to Old-Timers’ Day.
Why? If the Old-Timers’ Day crowd cheered Johnson, would the Mets’ front office and Harrelson be embarrassed? If the crowd booed him, would he be embarrassed? Like many, many, many others have said many, many, many times, the Wilpons and by extension, their PR and Marketing departments lack a cohesive link to their smartest and most loyal fans. Maybe it’s time to listen to a few of them.
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.
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:
|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:
|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
- Republican 3 (Seaver 1967; Jon Matlack 1972; Darryl Strawberry 1983; Gooden 1984)
- Democrat 1 (Jacob deGrom 2014)
Rolaids Relief Man
Sports Illustrated Man of the Year
- Republican 1 (Seaver 1969)
- Democrat 0
- Republican 14 (Tommie Agee 1970; Bud Harrelson 1971; Keith Hernandez 1983 – 1988; Ron Darling 1989; Carlos Beltran 2006 – 2008; David Wright 2007 – 2008)
- Democrat 6 (Doug Flynn 1980; Rey Ordonez 1997 – 1999; Robin Ventura 1999; Juan Lagares 2014)
- Republican 14 (Hernandez 1984; Gary Carter 1985 – 1986; Strawberry 1988; Howard Johnson1989 & 1991; Mike Piazza 2001 – 2002; Jose Reyes 2006; Beltran 2006 – 2007; Wright 2007 – 2008)
- Democrat 5 (Piazza 1998 – 2000; Edgardo Alfonzo 1999; Hampton 2000)
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.
On August 22, 1973, the Mets won their second game in a row to raise the Mets record to 57-67 leaving them 6.0 games out in the National League East behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.
From that point forward, the Mets would be the hottest team in baseball going 25-12 carrying them to an unlikely division championship. The Mets rode the hot streak to beat the Big Red Machine 3-2 in a best of five NLCS, and they came within a win of disrupting the Oakland A’s dynasty.
The popular story was the Mets were spurred by Tug McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe!” after a M.Donald Grant “pep talk” in July. However, the truth is that team just got healthy at the right time, and when the team was at 100%, they were among the best teams in baseball.
During that year, the team was hampered by injuries. Jerry Grote, John Milner, Bud Harrelson, and Cleon Jones all missed significant time. Rusty Staub player through injuries all year. On top of that phenom Jon Matlack was having a down year a year removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Award. He was joined by Jerry Koosman in having a surprising down year. Willie Mays looked to be every bit of his 42 years of age. Young fill-ins like Don Hahn just were not producing. The Mets were forced to do anything they could do to improve the team like releasing dead weight like Jim Fregosi. About all that went right that season for the Mets was Tom Seaver; that and the fact that no one ran away with the division allowing the Mets to enter the postseason with an 82-79 record.
Isn’t that what this Mets season has been. With Matt Harvey, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Adrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes, we have seen this Mets team be hampered time and again by injuries. We have seen countless Mets play through injuries like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz with their bone spurs. We’ve seen replacements like Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Matt Reynolds not play up to snuff. Players like Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto had surprising down years. About the only thing that has gone right for the Mets this year is the fact that Jacob deGrom has continued to pitch like an ace, and the fact that no one has ran away with the second Wild Card spot.
Maybe, just maybe, this is 1973 all over again. That 1973 team was much further back in both the standings and more teams to leapfrog in the standings. All they needed to do was to get healthy and to get hot. Right now, with Cespedes back and hitting home runs for the Mets again, this team is healthy, and they are on the verge of getting hot. If that happens, the Mets can very well take that second Wild Card spot and get into the postseason.
As we saw in 1973 as well as last year, with great Mets pitching, the Mets can beat anyone in the postseason. They can shock the world. Anything is possible so long as they get hot and get into the postseason.
He has been involved in more postseason and World Series games than anyone in Mets history. He was the SS on the 1969 Miracle Mets and the 1973 Mets. He was the third base coach for the 1986 World Series winning team, and the 1988 team. He was the inaugural member of the Mets Hall of Fame.
He’s the biggest winner the Mets have ever known. He’s one of the few who had two Mets World Series rings. He was never one to back down. He embodies the spirit these Mets will need in order to win the World Series this year.
Hopefully, the Mets on this team will win multiple World Series like Harrelson did.
In 1991, the Mets streak of finishing second or better in the NL East came to an end. The Mets had a 77-84 record, good for second to last in the division.
Part of the problem was the Mets had a hard time retooling. Davey Johnson gave way to Bud Harrelson. Frank Cashen gave way to Jerry Hunsicker. Darryl Strawberry gave way to Vince Coleman. Gary Carter initially gave way to Mackey Sasser, who was terrific until he came down with Steve Blass Disease. The Mets knew they needed another catcher, so they traded for Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien:
O’Brien was meant to be that classic backup catcher who was terrific defensively. That was his reputation. However, he couldn’t play everyday because he was terrible offensively. In 1991, his first full year with the Mets (only year he wore 5 with the team), he hit .185/.272/.256. For his Mets career, he would hit .212/.289/.309. While with the Mets, he would only play in losing teams.
Really, his only claim to fame was his hockey style catcher’s mask, which he wouldn’t wear in a game until he was long gone from the Mets. Ultimately, he would serve as a mentor to the young Todd Hundley, but that would not be for a few more years.
Charlie O’Brien reminds me of earlier this year when the Mets couldn’t generate any offense. He reminds me of a time when the Mets were trending downward as opposed to being on the verge of something potentially great. He reminds me that older players can effectively mentor younger players to help them be the best players they can be.
Charlie O’Brien may have been on a Mets team that was heading in a different direction, but he exhibited some of the virtues that have helped make this Mets team great. So with that, let’s tip our caps to Magic Man Number 5 Charlie O’Brien.