Today should have been a terrible day in Mets history. Despite his desperately wanting to stay with the Mets, the team made no offer to Zack Wheeler. That was even the case with him accepting a discounted deal he gave the Mets to match or beat.
Still, even with Wheeler leaving, today was one of the greatest days in New York Mets history. In fact, it may be better than the day Tom Seaver fell into the Mets laps, Cleon Jones caught Davey Johnson‘s fly ball, Mookie Wilson hit a little dribbler up the first base line, Jesse Orosco threw his glove in the air, or the day the Mets obtained Mike Piazza.
If this seems like hyperbole, it isn’t, at least not too much of it. As we saw in 1980 when Nelson Doubleday purchased the Mets, ownership means everything in pro sports. One day, you’re completely irrelevant playing in Grant’s Tomb, and the next, you’re in the greatest stretch in franchise history obtaining Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter to help the team win the second World Series in franchise history.
These types of things were no longer possible. Not really. Between Jeff Wilpon’s mismanagement and the extremely restricted finances in the wake of the Madoff scandal, the Mets couldn’t continue a prolonged run.
After that shocking 2015 pennant, the Mets lost the Wild Card Game the following year and were under .500 in each of the successive two years. Much of the reason why was a series of penny wise pound foolish decisions.
That can now change with Steve Cohen increasing his ownership share in the Mets from 4% to 80%. With that the Mets went from the Wilpons who are not billionaires to someone who is the richest owner in baseball.
This means it’s no longer a fait accompli Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto are as good as gone when they hit free agency. It means there’s a good chance Jacob deGrom gets the chance David Wright never did – to be the face of a Mets team truly dedicated to winning.
The Wilpons are gone or soon will be. With them leaving and being replaced by a man with deep pockets and an ability to properly run an organization, anything is possible.
For his part, it’s sad Wheeler won’t get to experience it. For Mets fans, we can’t wait to see what happens next. That’s not a position we’ve really ever been in since the team moved to Citi Field.
There have been a few times in the Mets history where they have surprised or even shocked the World in making their run to the postseason. The biggest example is 1969, which occurred 50 years ago. The Mets would make their Miracle run in 1973, and they would emerge in 1999, 2006, and 2015.
When you look at those rosters, there are players who are comparable to the players on this year’s Mets roster. Here’s a look at how it breaks down:
Wilson Ramos (Paul Lo Duca) – Ramos may not have been the catcher the Mets may have originally expected to bring in during the offseason, but like Lo Duca, he could be the perfect fit for this team and surprisingly be a very important piece to this club.
Juan Lagares (Endy Chavez) – Chavez was the defensive oriented player who was pressed into more action than anticipated, and his play on the field was a big reason the 2006 Mets came withing a game of the World Series.
Corey Oswalt (Logan Verrett) – The Mets need a low round drafted prospect to put together a string of great starts to help put this team over the top. With his increased velocity, this could be Oswalt.
And finally, there is Mickey Callaway, who we are hoping will be able to accomplish what Willie Randolph accomplished by proving himself a good manager in his second year and by leading the Mets to being the best team in the National League.
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.
The very next batter, Don Clendenon, would take McNally deep to cut the Orioles lead to 3-2 en route to the Mets winning that game 5-3 securing the first World Series In Mets history.
The funny thing is the shoe polish wasn’t Jones’. Rather, it belonged to Jerry Koosman, who was instructed by Hodges to swipe the ball on his cleat so he could present it to the umpires.
To this day, we never quite found out if the ball really hit Jones’ foot. What we do know is that proved to be a pivotal moment in a shocking upset.
While it certainly was not of the same magnitude or lasting impact, we can now say Todd Frazier is up to the same level of trickanery as Hodges.
— SportsNet New York (@SNYtv) September 5, 2018
While everyone initially believed this to be a play reminiscent of the one Derek Jeter made against the Red Sox (which is absurd as Jeter caught that ball in fair territory and continued to run into the stands), it was much more like Hodges and Koosman.
As Frazier explained, he didn’t make, or rather, complete the catch. Instead, as luck would have it, there was a rubber ball laying on the ground. Frazier picked up the ball, showed it to the umpire who then ruled Alex Verdugo out, and he tossed the ball back into the stands.
However, in a season where deGrom has received criminally low run support, at least players like Frazier are looking for any which way to help deGrom win the Cy Young.
The Mets Fan
My name is Rudy Sheptock, and I am on Twitter as @RudyOrangeAndBlue. I am a full time Minister and a part-time DJ! My daily midday Radio Show is called Rudy On The Radio and it’s heard Monday-Friday from Noon until 2PM on LIFT FM here in Cape May County, NJ. I have been married 36 years and have four kids and four grandkids. I love social media and enjoy the many friendships I have made via Twitter and Facebook.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I became a die hard Mets Fan in the mid 1960s because of my Dad. He grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers Fan, and when they and the Giants left for California, there was no way my Father was going to root for the Yankees. So when the Mets came along, he began to root for them and passed his love of the Orange and Blue on to me! Because I never do anything halfway – I was in for life!
Favorite Mets Player
My first Mets Autograph was Gil Hodges, but my first hero was Tom Seaver. I patterned everything I did after Tom. I would listen to the Mets on the Radio and would be perfectly in-sync with Seaver even though I could not see the game. I wore either 14 or 41 all thru my playing days. I also taught both my sons the drop and drive style of Seaver’s pitching. I have tons of Seaver memorabilia all over my house! I cried the day they traded him to the Reds! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
Favorite Moment in Mets History
While my oldest Son was born in 1986 and that magical season, nothing will ever compare to the Summer of 1969! After so much losing, the Mets were finally winning! And I loved Gil Hodges and the innocence of that era for me cause I was 10 years old! Seaver’s almost perfect game! I was at Banner Day that August when the Mets swept the Padres 3-2 in both games. The double-header that the Mets won against the Pirates where both games were 1-0 with Jerry Koosman and Don Cardwell driving in the runs! Ken Boswell singling in Cleon Jones against the Expos to put us in first place! And the day we won the World Series! I was in Baseball Heaven! I am so glad I was alive and well because that Team was my Team! Cleon and Tommie Agee! Jerry Grote and Donn Clendenon! I remember riding my bike thru the old neighborhood screaming We Won The World Series! Childhood at it’s best! Even the Mets on the Ed Sullivan Show!
Message to Mets Fans
Real Mets Fans are a unique breed! We are never confident. We always expect the worst and are pleasantly pleased when our Team comes through. We despise the Yankees! We love Bob Murphy. We miss Shea Stadium! The chant of Let’s Go Mets still gives us Goosebumps and we can still hear Jane Jarvis play the organ in our souls! We love Wilmer Flores and can’t understand why the Wilpons are still around! We can call our Mets Bums but will defend them to the death! We bleed blue and orange! Love to hear Put it in the Books and will always stick around for the Happy Recap! I was a Mets Fan at 7 years old and now at almost 60- I still love them!
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.