On Sunday, I had the privilege of being invited back on A Metsian Podcast to discuss the Braves series and all things Mets. During the podcast, I recall mentioning Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Dillon Gee, Logan Verrette, Aaron Altherr, Tomas Nido, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo, J.D. Davis, Amed Rosario, Wilson Ramos, Joe Panik, Todd Frazier, Jeff McNeil, Jason Vargas, Carlos Delgado, Endy Chavez, and others.
Please take time to listen. Thank you.
This offseason, the Mets have begun hiring some former fan favorites as special advisors to Brodie Van Wagenen. David Wright was the first with the team recently hiring Al Leiter and John Franco. We have also seen the team swap Nelson Figueroa with Todd Zeile for the postgame. In addition to those moves, Mike Piazza made his annual stop at Spring Training.
Seeing how the Mets are focusing more on their history, and recent history at that, you wonder who exactly the team will bring back next. We answer that question in our latest roundtable:
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
I want to see Justin Turner come back and play third base.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
My list of ex-Mets I’d welcome back in some capacity is too numerous to detail. I love the idea that these guys are forever part of the family as applicable.
Tim Ryder (MMO)
I’d like to see Carlos Delgado back representing the Mets in some capacity. His dedication to his craft (remember that notebook he wrote in after every at-bat?) would play well in this young-ish clubhouse, as well as through the organization.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
Does Jarred Kelenic count?
Really though, this is more of an overall thought than a concrete idea, but Billy Wagner is one of the least-recognized greats in baseball history. By pretty much any measure he’s the second best modern-style closer of all time, and he’s already pretty much forgotten. I’m not sure the Mets should be the ones to honor him, but someone needs to.
Previously, I opined how Johan Santana could be a real difference maker in the organization if he were able to teach pitchers his changeup much in the same way he once did with Jacob deGrom. However, from a pure standpoint of wanting to bring a player back into the fold, I would like to see Carlos Beltran return to the Mets.
As it stands, Beltran is going to be in a position where he can choose a Royals, Mets, or a blank cap when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. When you’re the Mets, and you only have two Hall of Famers in Tom Seaver and Piazza, and Seaver is no longer making public appearances, it would see a team should do all they can do to bring one of those Hall of Famers back to Queens.
Once again, I appreciate each of these writers taking their time to contribute to these roundtables, and I hope each person who reads this takes the time to visit the other writers sites to see their excellent work.
Perhaps more than any season, there is a sense of sadness which washed upon me when the 2018 season ended. Perhaps, it was because my father is another year older, and I have yet to truly experience the Mets winning the World Series with him. Maybe it is because my son follows the game a little bit more and he is starting to become attached to some players, and those players are up in limbo.
There is the sadness with David Wright leaving. He was the most beloved Mets player in history, and he was arguably the best position player this organization has ever produced. He was a Met for his entire career, and he ended his career the right way – on the field. Unfortunately, that career did not end with him winning a World Series.
Past Wright, there are question marks about some other players. Is this the last time Wilmer Flores ever wore a Mets uniform? Are we just waiting for him to shed tears when he is wearing another team’s uniform? Could we have already seen the last of Travis d’Arnaud? How about Juan Lagares? With him in the last year of his deal, he is certainly more tradeable, and there should be savvy teams lining up to acquire his defense. Is he just destined to go somewhere else where the will be able to finally put it all together? Will a new General Manager come in and opt to start a rebuild that would likely begin with trading Jacob deGrom?
Honestly, will Yoenis Cespedes ever be able to play again? He has only had one of the two heel surgeries he needed. Whenever you see a report on him, no one seems to be able to pinpoint a date he can play next year. At some point, you have to question if he will ever really be able to play. That seems like such a big departure from the larger than life figure he has been since joining the Mets.
Really, when you look around the 2015 Mets team we loved so dearly has been slowly trickling away. Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia were traded away this year. Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, and Curtis Granderson were traded away last season. Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson, and Daniel Murphy are distant memories. Bartolo Colon is off making goofy barbecue ads in Texas. Sandy Alderson, the man who orchestrated it all, “took a leave of absence” because he is battling cancer.
What we have left is good, really good. We have seen Brandon Nimmo be the player the Mets hoped he would be when he was drafted. After concerns about his shoulder, Michael Conforto was once again Michael Conforto in the second half. Amed Rosario figured things out in the second half of the season, and Jeff McNeil seemingly came out of nowhere.
We watched deGrom reach a level we never thought possible making him a sure Cy Young award winner. Zack Wheeler went from enigma to ace. Steven Matz actually made 30 starts. Finally, Noah Syndergaard seemed to return to form as the season drew to a close. This is reminiscent of the pitching of 2015, pitching which led the Mets to a World Series.
Looking at it, the Mets had the best ERA in the majors in the second half (2.97), and they had the best record in the division in the second half (38-30). When you combine the finish with the start, you can see there is a World Series contender somewhere in the fabric of that clubhouse. In order for that to happen, the Wilpons are going to have to go out there and get the pieces necessary to put this team over the top. If they were to do so, it would be the first time since they signed Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran in 2005, and added Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado the subsequent offseason.
Making bold moves like that to this core WILL put this team over the top, especially since Mickey Callaway and his staff grew during the season and showed they can be a coaching staff who can win you a World Series.
There’s a hesitation there. After Madoff, no Mets fan can really be assured this team is going to make the bold moves they need to take this roster over the top. Whatever hope you had was dashed when Jeff Wilpon told us all it was really Sandy Alderson who refused to spend and limited the size of the analytics department.
Thinking back, you realize this is partially why Wright retired without a ring. Sure, the Shea Stadium days were different. The Mets did add the aforementioned players, and they did make the Johan Santana trade. But after that? Well, it was Madoff and always finding themselves one or two players short. After all, the Mets traded for Kelly Johnson in consecutive seasons partially because the team believed Eric Campbell, and his major league minimum salary, was part of the solution.
In the end, this is a really likeable team. Watching Nimmo, Conforto, Rosario, deGrom, Syndergaard, Seth Lugo, and the rest of this Mets team, you can’t help but like and root for these guys. They are what makes being a Mets fan great. We don’t want to see deGrom, who looks to take up Wright’s mantle as the next great Mets player, leave Flushing without a ring. That can’t happen.
In the end, the ending of the 2018 season was a sad one. Hopefully, that sadness will quickly subside as the Mets go forth and seize the opportunity that is here. Hopefully, the 2019 season is going to be the year we finally see the Mets win another World Series. I hope so because I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to celebrate it with all of my loved ones.
The Mets started 12-2, and it seemed like they could do no wrong. That was until a complete bullpen eighth inning meltdown against the Nationals. Since that point, the Mets have gone 5-9, and they have fallen to second place in the division. With that as the backdrop, we turned to the Mets Blogger Roundtable to ask if Mickey Callaway‘s Mets team is for real:
We’re already seeing the Mets falling back to earth, and there was never any question that they would lose more than 15 games this year. The positive is that they have a core that’s skilled, and a new manager who will hopefully find ways to adapt and keep the room positive throughout the highs and lows of a season.
What *is* reality anyway? We are all one big consciousness agreeing upon a never ending list of rules and quibbling over interpretations of shared perceptions, right? That’s what I learned in third grade from the bus driver who smelled weird. If the reality of the situation is I am being asked if the Mets are as good as they were when they started 11-1, then no, they are not “for real.” They have been the fourth-luckiest team in all of baseball while the Nationals have been the most unlucky. We aren’t going to cry over Bryce Harper‘s misfortune (the Vegas native should be aware of streaks of bad luck at the very least anecdotally). We will cry over the Mets though. Yet we shouldn’t; they just have to play .500 ball from their 13th to 162nd game to hit lucky number 86 wins. They uh, haven’t played over .500 ball since that time but I guessed they would make the wild card game five weeks ago, so I might as well keep my chips on 86.
Right now I want to jump off of my seat in section 509.
Editor’s Note: this response was sent during the game after we learned about deGrom’s elbow.
Yes, but they have holes to fix and this passive approach to every situation is part of the problem.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that they have a genuine chance to end the season where they ended April, in first place? Based on what we’ve seen…sure, why not? I’d hate to think they’re pulling the cap down over our eyes.
Are the Mets for real in the sense that I’m supremely confident they won’t fall out of the race altogether after a while? That’s what the rest of the schedule is for: to find out.
But overall I feel pretty good about this team. The next 130+ games are always the hardest.
Caveat: All of the above is up for grabs in light of the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom.
I think the Mets’ start is most-definitely indicative of the potential of this team moving forward through the season.
The inevitably-oncoming adage of “Jake and Thor, then pray for it to pour” that was true for most of the first month of the season seems to be slowly fading away.
After the inconsistencies of Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler over their first few starts, as well as the banishing of Matt Harvey to the bullpen and the alarming start to Jason Vargas’ second stint with the Mets, things have started to look up lately.
If Wheeler can be effective (read: keep his pitches low), his stuff alone places him among the upper-crust of middle-of-the-rotation starting pitchers in the NL, and the same goes for Matz.
If Vargas has shown anything over his career, he’s proven to be the model of mediocre-but-efficient consistency, and that’s all the team really needs out of him.
I think this offense is truly one of the more-dangerous groups we’ve seen here since the days of Carlos Beltran/David Wright/Carlos Delgado, and I mean that. The recent upticks in production for Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez are promising.
The Mets’ bullpen has, for the most part, been the strength of this team and will continue to be, in my opinion. AJ Ramos looks to have found his groove and Robert Gsellman is absolutely thriving in his new role. Even Seth Lugo, who may not be adapting as easily as Gsellman has, has had some success and only figures to get more comfortable as time goes on. And, to be honest, Harvey could come to be a key cog in the relief corps once he gets a feel for things.
Are the Mets for real? It’s hard to say, but what’s becoming clear is that this season certainly won’t be easy. We got off to a hot start with Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Conforto, and Bruce all slumping, and you have to think we’ll get more from all of them going forward — but we’ll also presumably see regression from Todd Frazier and Asdrubal Cabrera, and the pitching has gone downhill fast since the first few turns through the rotation. Now deGrom is hurt too…if our starters besides Thor are a failed Harvey, a failed Matz, an inconsistent Wheeler, and an unimpressive Jason Vargas, there’s only so much room to get wins with that kind of rotation. Sure, things could turn out well — anything can happen. But as I said, the only thing that’s clear is that it certainly won’t be easy.
Initially, I had a long piece detailing how much the lineup and the pitching staff could benefit from Kevin Plawecki‘s return. How even with the inability to hit for power right now, Conforto is playing a good outfield and getting on base. How when you look deeper into the farm, you see Gavin Cecchini and Peter Alonso getting off to terrific starts making you wonder “What if . . . .”
None of that matters if deGrom is injured like he was in 2016 or Syndergaard was in 2017.
This is not to say his having a serious injury ends the Mets season. Rather, it means the season needs a miracle. In 2016, the Mets got that out of Lugo and Gsellman. Maybe the Mets get that this year out of some group that includes Harvey, Matz, Corey Oswalt, or Chris Flexen.
Maybe . . . .
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone for being able to respond to this roundtable. It was all the more impressive when you consider how panic striken we were collectively as a fanbase when deGrom left the game last night. We do know when that news finally breaks, there will be some terrific things written about deGrom and the Mets. Some of the best things will be written by the people in this roundtable, and I hope you will visit their sites.
That is except for Becky. She is currently a free agent and needs a home to write about the Mets. Hopefully, someone will soon jump in and find a home for her terrific work.
With the Mets 2018 season beginning today, we are all hopeful that this will be the first Mets team since 1986 to win a World Series. If history is any judge, fans will depart Citi Field with that feeling as the New York Mets do have the best winning percentage on Opening Day. Whether the good feelings and warm memories continue from there is anyone’s guess.
As you look to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, we thought we would share some of our Opening Day memories with you in the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable.
Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)
Two words: Collin Cowgill (That’s not my actual answer)
I think I’m going to cheat here. The first game that came to mind for favorite Opening Day memory was the Mets’ home opener in 2000. It was their first game played in North America, if that helps? The Mets split a two-game set in Japan the week before and then faced off against the Padres at Shea, and I was there. It was my first time attending a home opener, and I had to bend the rules that day too, seeing as I was, technically speaking, scheduled to continue my high school education that afternoon. A couple of friends and I cut class, took the 2/3, transferred to the 7, sauntered up to the ticket window, bought four tickets, and enjoyed a 2-1 victory. I brazenly put the schedule magnet giveaway on the refrigerator, and as far as I know was never caught. Please do not tell my mother.
My favorite Opening Day memory was Tom Seaver‘s 1983 Opening Day start. It was tremendous.
The details of Seaver’s homecoming were detailed in this Sports Illustrated piece.
This one has me stumped since I have not been to a Mets opening day since the Shea days. One that stands out is the chilly home opener for Tom Glavine. A 15-2 Mets loss I believe. Good times.
I cut school to go to Opening Day in 1980. My mother wrote a note to the teacher saying “sorry my son was absent. He went to Opening Day. P.S. the Mets won 5-2.” The teacher let me off the hook but only because the Mets won. I cut school in 1983 to see Seaver’s return as a Met. I cut school in 1988 to see Darryl Strawberry hit a HR on Opening Day, then left early to get back to theater rehearsal, and I had to platoon style elbow crawl my way under the director so she wouldn’t know I was gone. Luckily they never got to my scene yet so I was out of trouble. Until we left for the day and the director said “How was the game?” As many times as I cut school for Opening Day, it’s a wonder I can put a sentence together.
I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 17 Opening Days/Home Openers (18, counting the first home game after the 1981 strike, which was functionally a second Home Opener), my favorite among them the 2001 Home Opener, when the 2000 NL pennant was raised, we were handed replica championship flags on our way in, Tsuyoshi Shinjo introduced himself to us with a homer, Mike Piazza socked two, the Mets obliterated the Braves and, not incidentally, the weather was perfect.
But with all due respect to the thrill of being on hand to, as Howie Rose says, welcome the National League season to New York, my core Opening Day memory is from 1975, when I convinced a friend to skip Hebrew School and watch the rest of the first game of that season.
The game began while we were still in shall we say regular school (sixth grade). Our teacher put the Mets and Phillies on the classroom TV. One wise guy tried to switch to the Yankees. Out of pique, the teacher switched it off.
Fast forward a bit, and my aforementioned friend and I went to my house to catch a little more of the game before we had to get to Hebrew School. This was Seaver versus Steve Carlton, and it was such an occasion that I said to him, “I’m not going to Hebrew School today.” He was convinced to not go, either.
We watched to the end and were rewarded for our truancy. Seaver pitched a complete game. Dave Kingman homered in his first game as a Met, and Joe Torre (also a new Met) drove in the winning run in the ninth, or what we would today call walkoff fashion. The whole winter was about reconstructing a dismal 1974 squad and hoping Seaver would be healthy. For one day, everything clicked as we dreamed.
On a cold and blustery Christmas Eve night at Citi Field, new manager Mickey Callaway enters Fred Wilpon’s office.
Mickey: I just wanted to stop on my way out to wish you and your family a happy holiday, and I just wanted to let you know I look forward to working with you and Sandy to help build a Mets team that can go to the World Series again.
Fred: What do you mean build?
Mickey: Well, there are a few areas I was hoping to address. We need a second baseman, some additional depth, and some bullpen –
Fred: Relievers? I just gave you Anthony Swarzak just last week!
Mickey: And I’m thankful for that. But while I was in Cleveland, I learned you need more in your bullpen. You need a couple of guys with interchangeable roles to help you get to where you want to go. We need at least one more guy.
Fred: I don’t get it. After Madoff, I’ve done all I could do to get my money back, and now everyone wants me to just give it away.
Mickey: Well, I’d love to build a winner for the players and the fans.
Mickey: Well, I guess not. Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to next season.
Not long after Callaway leaves, Fred Wilpon leaves Citi Field, and he begins his drive to Greenwich. He pulls up to a stately manor that hasn’t been renovated since 2008. He makes his way into the bedroom, and before he can turn on the lights, he hears a ghostly whisper coming from behind him. It sounds like his name, but he initially can’t quite make it out. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere a figure emerges.
Fred: No, it can’t be. Is that really you?
M. Donald Grant: It is.
Fred: But, you’re dead. How? How?
M. Donald Grant: I’ve come here to deliver a message.
M. Donald Grant: Remember when I was alive, I won a World Series, and then I refused pay raises to everyone. Remember when I shipped Tom Seaver and everyone of value out of town?
Fred: All while keeping the team profitable!
M. Donald Grant: Yup, I mean no. No! I was wrong, and now I have to watch the 1962 Mets over and over again. But worse, I have to give the players raises after each and every game despite no one coming to the ballpark!
Fred: The horror.
M. Donald Grant: And if you don’t change, your fate will be worse than mine.
Fred: No . . . NO! . . . You’ve got to save me.
M. Donald Grant: Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits. Listen to them! Do what they say! Or you will be cursed for eternity.
And with that the apparition of Grant faded away leaving Fred frightened in his room. A few times he splashed cold water on his face and pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. Still shaken, Fred made his way to bed. After a while, his fatigue got the better of his anxiety, and he faded to sleep. Then there was a loud noise like the roar of the crowd. It jostled Fred from his sleep. Still groggy, he looked out and couldn’t believe the figure before him.
Fred: No, it can’t be. Is it really you Gary?
Standing before Fred was Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter. Back in 1985, when Fred had just a small interest in the team, the Mets traded for Carter in the hopes that he would put the Mets over the top. Eventually, Carter did with the Mets winning the 1986 World Series. Notably, Carter started the game winning two out rally in the bottom of the 10th to allow the Mets to force a Game 7.
Gary: It’s really me Fred. I’m now the Ghost of Baseball Past.
Fred: Am I dead?
Gary: No, you’re not. I’m here to show you what things used to be like before you changed the way you did business with the Mets.
With that Gary, took a swing of the bat creating a cloud of dust and smoke all over the room. As the dust settled, the Mets found themselves back in a sold out Shea Stadium.
Fred: What a dump!
Gary: You didn’t always think so. In fact, you used to love coming here. Back in the 80s, Shea Stadium was the place to be. Those Mets teams were stacked with players like me, Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry, and tonight’s starter Dwight Gooden.
Fred: Those Gooden starts were something special. No one could beat us then, and we knew it. We never could quite capture the magic from those teams again, but that was something special.
Gary: This is how things used to be. It was always this way. You did it again when you signed Mike Piazza, except you didn’t just sign him. You surrounded him with good players like Robin Ventura and Edgardo Alfonzo. That team came close. You did it again with Carlos Beltran. You spent the extra dollar to get a truly great player. You then added players like Carlos Delgado and Johan Santana to try to get it done. It didn’t work, but the fans came. More importantly, everyone respected you for it.
Fred: But they don’t understand.
Gary: Let’s see what happened next.
With a blink of Fred’s eye, Shea Stadium is just a memory. As he reopens his eyes, he is back in Citi Field as it was before it was fully renovated. The fans were angry with the team. It was one thing that the ballpark didn’t fully honor Mets history; it was another that the Mets let Jose Reyes walk in the offseason without so much as an offer. It was an uninspiring 88 loss win team that was seemingly going nowhere.
Fred: When did we put the Great Wall of Flushing back in? Where are all the fans?
Gary: You didn’t. It’s 2012.
Fred: That was an ugly time. Fans constantly complaining and booing. The team and I were personally cash strapped. I had no idea what our future was or could be. Worse yet, no one seemed to understand. The fans, the players, the press. No one. The whole thought of this time is just too much to bear. I can’t . . .
Before Fred could finish the sentence, he was hit in the head by a foul ball off the bat of Daniel Murphy. Next thing Fred knew, he was awake, with a headache back in his bed in Greenwich.
Fred: Man, I really have to lay off the Shake Shack late at night. It gives me the strangest dreams. And man, just remembering those days just gives me a headache. I never want to get back to that point . . .
As the words left Fred’s lips, there was a strange noise. Fred looked over, and he sees beloved former announcer and Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner in what appears to be old set of Kiner’s Korner.
Ralph: Well hi everybody it’s Ralph Kiner, the Ghost of Christmas Present, on Kiner’s Korner. Well the Mets are in the middle of the offseason after the team lost over 90 games, missed the postseason for the first time in three years, and is now talking about cutting payroll. We have Mets owner Fred Wilpon on to talk about it next.
Ralph: Welcome back to Kiner’s Korners. As you know Kiner’s Koners is sponsored by Rheingold – the Dry Beer!
Ralph: Hi Mr. Wilpon, welcome to Kiner’s Korners.
Fred: I’m not sure what exactly is happening here.
Ralph: Well, Mr. Wilpon, we’re here to talk about your team and what the 2018 roster will look like.
Fred: We’ve given Sandy free reign to do whatever he needs to do to put the best team on the field. We trust in his decision making, and we always demure to him on personnel decisions.
Ralph: Well Mr. Wilpon, there are not many that believe you. In fact, the fans will say that the team isn’t going to spend the money on the players like the Mets should. It reminds me back when I had won another home run title for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and I went to Branch Rickey to ask for a raise. During the meeting, Rickey denied me a raise saying, “We finished eighth with you, we can finish eighth without you.” From there of course, I was then traded to the Chicago Cubs. This is the same Chicago Cubs franchise that won their first World Series title since 1908. The Cubs were once defeated –
Fred: Okay, okay. No, we’re no expanding payroll. The fans didn’t come last year, and I don’t have the money. That’s just the way things work now. This isn’t the old days where Omar gets free reign.
Ralph: Well, the fans are angry the team isn’t spending money, especially since you have the BAM money, bought an Overlook League team, and are part of the new Islanders Belmont Arena. And I remember as a player how much the team wanted to know the owner supported them. When the team had the support of ownership it had an effect in the clubhouse and the play on the field.
Fred: Let’s be honest. With the team we have now, we’re going to fill the seats because we have Yoenis Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. We have free t-shirts, garden gnomes, and bobbleheads. We’re going to turn a profit all while giving the players what they want – money.
Ralph: That’s not true. Here is a videotape of your captain David Wright.
A large screen appears on the set of Kiner’s Korner with an image of Wright at his home talking to Callaway about the upcoming season.
Mickey: I know it may be a little late, but I wanted to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas. And I wanted to let you know that we’re all pulling for you to get back out on that field.
David: It’s hard skip. I wake up in pain everyday. It was bad enough when it was just the stenosis, but now it is my neck too. I just spend all of my day rehabbing and working out. I do all these special exercises for my back and my neck. It’s almost 24 hours of pure hell. It’s made all the harder by the fact that every minute I spend working out is time away from my wife and daughter. Baseball has always been a sacrifice, and I love it. But it just gets harder and harder.
Mickey: Look, I love you, and I know the team does too. If there is anything you ever need, you just have to ask. And if you feel as if you can’t go on, you’ll always have a place on my staff.
David: I can’t hang ’em up. Not yet. I’ve come so close to the World Series a few times in my career, and I’ve fallen short. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel right hanging it up without winning one.
Fred: This is costing me $20 million a year.
David: And it’s not just about me. I owe a World Series to Mets fans who have supported me my whole career. They’ve gone out and bought my jerseys. They’ve cheered for me. They’ve always been there for me. And more importantly, I owe it to the Wilpon family. I saw what happened with Reyes and the other players who left. They decided to keep me. They made me the face of the franchise and the team captain. I’ve loved being a Met, and the Wilpons made that possible.
Fred: I just never knew how much he cared and how appreciative he was.
Ralph: Time for another commercial break and word from our sponsor the Ghost of Christmas Future.
Everything turns to black like a television screen being turned off. At first, Fred sits there quietly unsure of what is happening. He then finds himself in a strange room with Darryl Hamilton wearing his black Mets jersey. The same jerseys the Wilpons wanted to help drum up fan interest and help increase revenues. At first, Hamilton says nothing. He just looks at Fred before gesturing for Fred to follow him.
Fred follows Darryl down a hallway. Eventually, an image of a badly beaten down Wright emerges. On the walls are different jerseys he wore in his career. A shelf displays all of his awards and his 2015 National League Pennant ring. Wright moves around the room but with great difficulty. Although still relatively young, he moves like an old man. He’s there with another person.
Woman: Look, this is not going to happen overnight. With the beating your body has taken you’re luck you’re even in position to walk.
David: I don’t care. I need you to get me to the point where I can dance again. There is nothing that is going to stop me from dancing at my daughter’s wedding.
Woman: Ok, but we need to take it slowly. You’ve had a number of injuries in your career, especially those last few. Doing things like dancing is going to come with some difficulty for you. The trick is to build everything up so you can do it again.
Fred: What, what happened to him?
Darryl only nods his head in the direction of the trophy case.
Fred: He never won? But we had Matt Harvey and Syndergaard. We had deGrom and Steven Matz. Even Zack Wheeler returned. We had five aces! Of course we won at least one. There is no way we let that core go without winning a World Series. Surely, we made a move to get that final piece at least one of those years.
David: On cold days like this, it really makes me wonder how wise it was sticking to the end of my contract rather than just medically retiring the way Albert Belle and Prince Fielder did. I really wonder if Prince has the same problems I have. Still, I would do it all over again because trying to win that ring was important not just for my career, the fans, and Fred.
Woman: What happened?
David: We were so close, but we shot ourselves in the foot in 2015. After that, we always just seemed one or two players short. We gave it the best we could, but it just wasn’t meant to be . . . .
As David drifts off, Darryl gestures for Fred to re-enter the dark hallway. The two make their way down before standing outside the Rotunda entrance to Citi Field. Nearby is a group of men putting up a few statues. In the parking lot adjacent to 126th Street, there are a number of moving vans.
Worker 1: Honestly, it is about time there was a Tom Seaver statue erected at Citi Field. I think adding the Piazza one as well was a nice touch.
Worker 2: Things have been a lot better around here with the new guys came in.
Worker 1: And ain’t no one going to miss the old group.
Worker 2: How can you? They let the whole thing fall apart.
Worker 1: Good riddance!
Fred: What is happening here? What old group? Who authorized these statues?
With that Fred began a dead sprint towards the entrance to the executive offices, but he was distracted by a commotion happening at McFadden’s. Despite wanting to get back to his office, Fred found himself drawn to the bar where he found a group of people in celebration.
Man: Shhh! It’s about to be on the television.
Reporter: After years of seeing homegrown players sign elsewhere, and the Mets having been inactive on the free agent market, Citi Field has become eerily reminiscent of Grant’s Tomb in the 1970s. With fan interest at a nadir and record low revenues for the team, it became time for a change.
Fred: Darryl! What are they talking about?
Man: This is a dream come true for me. As a little boy sitting int he Upper Deck at Shea Stadium, I never imagined I would be in the position I am here today. And yet, here I am.
Cheers spread through McFaddens making the sound from the televisions inaudible.
Man: Back in 1980, the late Nelson Doubleday purchased the New York Mets from the Payson family. From that day, a new era of Mets prosperity began with ownership investing not just in good baseball people, but also its players and its fans. My pledge to the Mets fans is to operate this club much in the same fashion as Mr. Doubleday, and with that, a new era of Mets prominence will begin.
As cheers fill the room and the bartenders try to keep up with the customers needing drinks, a bewildered Fred turns back to Darryl.
Fred: Darryl, what is happening with my team? Was it . . .
As Fred trails off, he can see a sullen Jeff Wilpon standing out on the sidewalk waiting for a driver to take him home. Before Jeff could get into the car, he is ambushed by a group of reporters. Instinctively, Jeff runs out to assist his son.
Reporter: How do you feel today?
Jeff: How do you expect me to feel? The thing that mattered most to my father is now gone.
Reporter: What message do you have for Mets fans?
Jeff: We just want them to continue supporting the New York Exelsior. I still believe that sooner or later this investment will pay off.
Fred: Jeff, don’t tell me you did it! Don’t tell me you sold my team!
Reporter: How do you think your father would feel about this moment?
Jeff: Well, the Dodgers just won another World Series with a payroll triple ours, so –
Fred: Jeff! Jeff! I’m over here! Jeff!
With Jeff being worn down by the questioning, and his being unable to hear his father scream, he enters the car. Initially, Fred heads toward Jeff while repeatedly asking him what happened with the Mets. With Jeff being unresponsive, and with Fred knowing he’s not going to be able to get to the door in time, he runs in front of the car in an attempt to stop it. The car pulls from the curb, makes contact with Fred, and everything goes black.
The sun begins to rise, and it begins to light Fred’s room in Greenwich. The sun shines in Fred’s eyes causing him to initially squint. When he realizes that a new day has begun, Fred eagerly jumps from his bed, and he checks his iPhone.
Fred: It’s December 25, 2017! I still own the team! The spirits have given me another chance!
Fred grabs his phone, and he calls his secretary to immediately set up a conference call with Callaway, Alderson, and Wright.
Fred: I’m sorry to bother you on Christmas morning, but I felt like this couldn’t wait any longer. We have a window here, and we have to take advantage of it. Sandy, the shackles are off. You have everything you need at your disposal. We owe Mickey the best team possible for him to lead the Mets back to the World Series. And we owe it to you David because you stuck by us when times were at their lowest. We can’t let you finish your career without winning a World Series. It wouldn’t be fair, and it wouldn’t be right.
Mickey: Thank you, and God bless you Mr. Wilpon!
David: God bless us everyone!
In what was a surprising and completely unexpected move, the New York Mets announced that Omar Minaya is returning as a Special Assistant to Sandy Alderson. In Omar’s new role, he will have a varying role including but not limited to scouting and player development. While this offseason has been a complete disappointment thus far, this decision is a great move for the Mets:
1. Omar Left The Mets In Better Shape Than Advertised
One of the issues for Omar when he departed for the Mets was the purported poor state of the Mets minor league system. There were many reasons for the caricature as he didn’t have many first round picks as the General Manager, and when he did have one, he struck by drafting players like Eddie Kunz.
However, that does not mean the talent wasn’t there. As we well know, Omar built the core that helped win the 2015 pennant. It was Omar’s regime that brought in Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Daniel Murphy.
Omar also had originally brought R.A. Dickey to the Mets on a minor league deal. That led to Dickey winning a Cy Young Award, and Sandy Alderson flipping him in a deal that netted the Mets Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard. If Sandy and Omar can work in harmony, the Mets may very well turn things around sooner than we believed.
2. Omar Has Been Able To Get The Wilpons To Spend
When Omar first took the reigns as the Mets General Manager, he went out, and he spent. He immediately brought in Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez. He had to wait a year, but he was eventually able to get Carlos Delgado. He was also shrewd by getting Jose Reyes and David Wright to sign extensions that proved to be team friendly deals.
Yes, this is true this was all prior to the Madoff Scandal. However, consider that a month after Madoff was arrested and the Mets standing a real chance of facing financial ruin, Omar was somehow able to get the Mets to agree to sign Jason Bay to a four year $66 million deal. It’s true that this ultimately proved to be a bad deal, but the overriding point was Omar got the Mets to spend like none other. If you are able to combine Omar’s influence with Sandy’s prudence, you again get a terrific combination.
3. Mets Need A Fresh Look At Their Minor League System
The drafted and minor league free agent talent acquired by the Mets since Sandy Alderson became the General Manager has been largely disappointing. So far, their efforts on the International front has really only produced Amed Rosario. Rosario is a great prospect, but he’s it.
Also, while the Mets have drafted All Stars in Michael Conforto and Michael Fulmer, they have also do not view high draft picks like Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini as starters at the Major League level. Moreoever, the team has been harsh in their criticism of Dominic Smith. It also doesn’t help the team drafted Anthony Kay in the first round, and he has yet to throw a professional pitch due to injury.
In reality, the talent level isn’t where the Mets want it, and it is a large reason why the Mets farm system is largely maligned. When the farm system is where it is right now, it is time to bring in someone to give a fresh look and help build the system back up. There are few better at it than Omar Minaya.
Overall, the Mets brought in a well respected voice in baseball and a voice well respected by the Wilpons. He is being brought in to do what he does best – evaluate and scout talent. Previously, Alderson was able to take the talent Omar acquired, and the Mets won a pennant. With Omar and Sandy working together, the sky is the limit right now.
If you’re going to say Willie Mays, that’s acceptable. Let’s just split the difference and say this was the greatest double play in Major League history.
Watching that play and remembering that game time and again, there are some things that stick out in your mind. The stands were rocking. Carlos Delgado was fired up like never before. The Mets seemed unbeatable that day. Everything built to a fever pitch in the bottom of the sixth. Degaldo walked. Rolen made a throwing error not only allowing David Wright to reach, but to set up runners at second and third with no outs. Shawn Green was intentionally walked loading the bases.
Then, Jose Valentin struck out, and everyone’s hero, Endy Chavez, flew out to center to end the rally. From there, we saw the Yadier Molina homer, the Carlos Beltran strikeout, collapses in 2007 and 2008, the Madoff scandal, and really the Mets failing to play competitive baseball in the first six years in Citi Field.
In many ways, Chavez’s catch became a highlight in the truest sense of the word because that was the apex. Everything came crashing down after that.
During that game, the Mets looked unbeatable. Harvey had shut down the Royals pitching eight scoreless allowing just four hits and striking out nine. When he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth, the fans were rocking, and everyone believed the Mets were not only going to win that game, but they were going to complete the comeback from a 3-1 series deficit. How could you not? The Royals had just lost Game 7 at home the previous season, and the Mets had Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard for Games 6 and 7.
Like the aftermath of the Chavez catch, it didn’t work out that way. Harvey walked Lorenzo Cain and allowed an RBI double to Eric Hosmer. After a Mike Moustakas ground out, Hosmer was on third and the infield was drawn in. Then to the surprise of everyone, Hosmer broke for the plate while Wright was throwing to first to get Salvador Perez.
From there, we saw the Mets have to fight tooth and nail just to get to a Wild Card Game last year. Madison Bumgarner outdueled Syndergaard, and Conor Gillaspie homered off Jeurys Familia. This past season, seemingly everyone but Ray Ramirez was injured as the Mets dropped from World Series contender to fourth place in the NL East. The roster now has a number of holes and a number of question marks with the team announcing it’s going to cut payroll.
Depending on what the team does this offseason, and depending on the health of players like Michael Conforto, the Mets could once again be looking at an extended period of irrelevance. When Harvey took the mound for the ninth inning roughly two years ago, no one could have possibly believed that to be true.
Then again, when Chavez made that catch, no one could believe what would be in store for the Mets over the next decade.
Game Four of the ALDS between the Red Sox and Astros was a just a bizarre game with many things you may not have seen before in a baseball game and some things may never see again in a game. Both Chris Sale and Justin Verlander came into the game in relief, and both would give up the lead. For that matter so would Craig Kimbrel. To lead off the top of the ninth, Rafael Devers would hit an inside-the-park homer.
All of these things and many more of the events that happened in the game were truly remarkable. However, there is one that stands out above the rest for Mets fans.
In the top of the ninth, the Astros were trying to add an insurance run to their 4-3 lead. With runners on first and second and two outs, Astros manager A.J. Hinch would tab Carlos Beltran to pinch hit for designated hitter Evan Gattis. With a 2-2 count against him, Beltran would foul off three straight pitches before hitting a curveball off the Green Monster for an RBI double extending the Astros lead to 5-3. With Devers’ aforementioned inside-the-park homer in the bottom of the ninth, Beltran would have the game winning hit; a hit that came off of a curveball. It should come as no surprise to Mets fans this was the first ninth inning RBI in Beltran’s illustrious postseason career.
While all of Houston rejoiced, Mets fans were once again shaking their heads with visions of a Beltran frozen by an Adam Wainwright curveball.
Throughout his career, Beltran has certainly earned a reputation for one of the greatest postseason hitters in Major League history. When Cooperstown comes calling, one of the reasons for Beltran’s induction will be his October exploits. Mets fans are certainly no stranger to them.
Many forget before that strikeout, Beltran had hit three homers in that series against the Cardinals. The Mets don’t win Game One of that series, let alone get to a Game Seven without Beltran. If the Mets won that Game Seven, it was truly a toss-up between him and Carlos Delgado as to who was going to be the NLCS MVP. When Beltran dug in against Wainwright with a berth to the World Series on the line, it looked like it was going to be Beltran.
But it wasn’t. And so a part of Beltran’s complicated legacy as a baseball player and a New York Met soon crystallized.
Beltran is one of the greatest postseason players in Major League history, but he didn’t even attempt to swing at a pitch that ended the World Series. The Mets would never have gotten to that point without Beltran, but in reality, during his tenure with the Mets, the team was mostly disappointing with two emotionally crippling collapses in subsequent seasons. Beltran was one of the greatest Mets to ever wear the uniform, but for some reasons, even before the strikeout, Mets fans never seemed to fully embrace him.
Regardless of the past, Beltran was a great Mets player, who absolutely gave it his all with the Mets. He did all he could do to be a great player here and to ensure the Mets success. Lost in his legacy was his immediately taking David Wright and Jose Reyes to workouts with him to show them what it took to be a great baseball player.
So yes, Beltran struck out looking against Wainwright, and he doubled off Kimbrel. Mets fans were depressed, and all of Houston rejoiced. Mets fans should be happy as well, and not just because a former Met won a game against a former Brave.
Beltran was a great Mets player who deserves our admiration and respect even if he wasn’t fully given it while he was a member of the Mets. He was a great Met who did everything he could do to help them win. He was a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, MVP caliber player the Mets have not seen from an outfielder before and have not seen since. We should cheer for him when he finally gets that game winning series clinching hit, and we should want him to get that elusive World Series ring.
If you’ve been a Mets fan long enough, you’ll remember one of the issues with the Mets obtaining Carlos Delgado was his refusal to stand for “God Bless America.” There were a number of reasons why from the United States use of the Vieques for bombing runs to the the war in Iraq. As a Puerto Rican, and as a man, Delgado felt compelled to sit out the singing of “God Bless America.”
With 9/11 still so raw for many New Yorkers, and “God Bless America” being a de facto anthem adopted in the ensuing days, this was a sore point for some Mets fans. However, it never became an issue because the Mets had a policy their players were to stand for “God Bless America,” and Delgado complied with the policy.
As Delgado put it, “The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for ‘God Bless America’ and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub…. Just call me Employee Number 21.” (The Nation).
From that point forward, Delgado would go on to become one of the most beloved Mets to ever wear the uniform. It wasn’t just his home run hitting ability. It was the fact he was an actual human being that was fun to root for. In that first season with the Mets he won the Roberto Clemente Award for his work in helping children’s hospitals.
Reflecting on his time in New York, you wonder what impact his sitting out “God Bless America” would have had on his legacy as a Met and as a ballplayer. We don’t know because he wasn’t given that opportunity.
I was reminded of the Delgado situation when Terry Collins spoke about how his entire team stood for the National Anthem before the Mets game yesterday:
I’ve got to tell you, I’m not a big political guy, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I respect — I have been blessed enough to travel the world — and I respect our country immensely. We do have rights here, which other places don’t. I respect that, also.
But I’m proud of my guys that they go line up every night, stand and face the flag. Everybody’s allowed to have their own thoughts and certainly I don’t criticize anybody, I don’t do that stuff. But I’m happy that our guys do what they do.
Given the history with the Mets and Delgado, you have to wonder if the Mets players stand for the National Anthem out of national pride, a sense of civic duty, or because they were ordered by the team.
This is normally something we would not have to ponder, but this has become something more and more players have done across the sports world. It first came to baseball with Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell becoming the first Major League player to kneel for the anthem. It became an issue with some tweets from President Trump over the weekend:
If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
…our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem. If not, YOU'RE FIRED. Find something else to do!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Reading those tweets, you knew it was going to cause people to react. Many teams and players operated in many different ways. Some knelt. Others stood and locked arms. Then there was the Pittsburgh Steelers who ordered their players to stay in the locker room. All but one player would heed the order:
Former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva stood outside the tunnel alone during the national anthem. pic.twitter.com/6KOZzSJj6q
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 24, 2017
Former Army Ranger and Iraq War veteran Alejandro Villanueva was the lone Steeler to take the field during the National Anthem. In many circles, the man was lauded. Really, you’d be hard-pressed to find any detractors for his action, but there was a significant one – his head coach.
Mike Tomlin set forth a direct order to his players, and Villanueva disregarded the order, and instead chose to stand for the National Anthem. Where many people saw a hero, Tomlin saw a disobedient player.
And you know what? Tomlin is as right for telling Villanueva to not stand as the Wilpons were in telling Delgado not to sit.
Delgado was a member of the Mets, and Villanueva is a member of the Steelers. When they take the field, they represent not just themselves, but an entire organization. Just like you or I when we go to work, we have to listen to our employers when it comes to voicing our politics or protest. We may not to like it, but ultimately, if we choose to be employed, we have to adhere to the guidelines set forth. It’s a fact of life.
As for their specific actions? Well, honestly, that is for each and every single one of us to decide.
Personally, I don’t like it when I see players kneel. I’ve had relatives fight for this country, and I’ve actually had friends die defending this country. I have family who are police officers who rushed down to Ground Zero when 9/11 happened. While standing and removing my cap was something that was once rote for me, something instilled in my by my father, it is actually now a conscious decision.
At the same time, I refuse to condemn those who kneel . . . at least not until hearing them out.
If you’re Delgado, and you grew up with the United States effectively destroying part of your beloved Puerto Rico, you are sure to have a different reaction to the National Anthem and God Bless American than I will. Same goes for some of the players who have chosen to take a knee during the National Anthem.
Personally, I want to hear from everyone who kneels why they are doing it. More than that, I want to know how they choose to be a part of the solution. You’re kneeling to get our attention, and you have it. Frankly, it’s not enough. You need to actually do something with it. You need to let us know why, and what we all can do to try to help you or the people you care enough about to kneel.
Even if these players don’t know exactly why they’re kneeling or what is a real solution, I will still defend their right to kneel. It’s an exercise of the First Amendment. If you are of the belief, kneeling disrespects our military and our democratic institutions, you’re wanting to take away an exercise of the First Amendment is equally as a disrespectful . . . perhaps more so.
In the end, instead of the useless shouting back and forth, it’s time for an honest discussion to take place.
That discussion is not for this space. As was always my goal, this blog was always intended to discuss the Mets and raising little Mets fans. For the most part, politics really plays no part here. However, this is a time where sports and politics are converging instead of diverging. When you have Mets figures like Collins offering statements on the matter, the issue certainly comes within the purview of any Mets related website. Accordingly, I figured it was long since time I offered by thoughts on the matter. It is my sincerest intention this will be the last.
Tomorrow, I will get back to the Mets and explaining how the team is mismanaging it’s development of Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Amed Rosario. We can all get back to discussing how to handle David Wright. Mostly, we can all focus on how to fix this team so they can get back to the team that was in the World Series instead of an injured and broken down team fighting for a top five draft pick.