The things we are willing to tell ourselves as fans can sometimes be quite outlandish. Back in 1997, if you polled Mets fans, they would probably tell you they would rather have Todd Hundley than Mike Piazza. Why not?
The two were the same age. Both were All Stars in 1996 and 1997. In those two years, Hundley had hit 71 homers to Piazza’s 76. Hundley had 198 RBI to Piazza’s 229. Hundley’s 53 doubles surpassed Piazza’s 48. In fact, Hundley’s 127 extra base hits were actually two more than Piazza’s 125. On top of that, Hundley was a switch hitter and a much better defensive catcher. He was the homegrown Met that was afan favorite with his very own Todd Squad cheering section at Shea Stadium. Hundley’s career was taking off, and he was seen by Mets fans as a newer version of Gay Carter. When he returned from his elbow surgery in 1998, he was expected to once again be the slugging defensive minded catcher who was going to lead the Mets to the postseaon for this first time in a decade. If you took a poll of Mets fans, they may begrudging admit Piazza was the better player, but overall, they would also state their belief that they would rather have Hundley as he was their guy. It was all a moot point anyway because there was no way the Dodgers would ever get rid of Piazza.
Until they did. There wasn’t a baseball fan alive in 1998 that was utterly shocked when Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins along with future Met Todd Zeile for a package that included future Met Gary Sheffield and former/future Met Bobby Bonilla. Once Piazza was a Marlin, the world over knew the team that sold everything except the copper wiring after winning the 1997 World Series was going to trade the impending free agent Piazza. All of a sudden, the very same Mets fans who loved Hundley, desperately wanted Piazza. Myself included.
It was certainly possible. In that offseason, the Mets had acquired Al Leiter and Dennis Cook. There was a reporte there. Even with those trades, the Mets still had a good farm system headlined by Mookie Wilson‘s stepson, Preston Wilson, who could justifiable headline a Piazza trade. Without Hundley, the team was languishing around .500, and they needed a shot in the arm if they were ever going to earn a postseason berth. You could tell yourself that when Hundley got back he could either play left field in place of the struggling Bernard Gilkey or in right in place of another fan favorite, Butch Huskey. At least, that is what you told yourself.
Amazing, it actually happened. On May 22, 1998, the 24-20 Mets actually pulled off a trade to acquire Piazza. Perhaps just as a amazing, when the Mets activated Hundley from the disabled list on July 22nd, they put him in left field. Very rarely in life does things happen exactly as you imagined it would. This did.
Except it didn’t. While Piazza was originally greeted with a hero’s welcome, he would then become roundly booed by the very same fan base who was desperate to acquire him. Hundley would be a disaster in left field. As uncomfortable as he was in the field, he was equally uncomfortable at the plate hitting .162/.248/.252 with only one home run. He eventually forced Bobby Valentine‘s hand, and he became the backup catcher to Piazza. In retrospect, how could it have ever worked? Piazza was a star in Los Angeles, which is nowhere near the hot bed New York was. Hundley was a catcher out of the womb as he was taught the position by his father Randy Hundley.
But then on a September 16th game in the old Astrodome, it all worked according to plan. In the top of the ninth, with the Mets trailing 3-1, Piazza, who had been 0-3 on the night, stepped in the box against Billy Wagner with two on and two out. He would launch a go-ahead three run homer. After Cook blew the save in the ninth, Hundley would be summoned to pinch hit in the top of the 11th. He would hit a game winning home run. It would be the first and only time Piazza and Hundley would homer in the same game. In fact, it was Hundley’s last homer as a Met. At that point, the Mets seemed to have control of the Wild Card, but they would eventually fall apart, thanks in LARGE part to Mel Rojas, and they would just miss out on the postseason.
Going into that offseason, the Mets had to make a choice. Do you stick with your guy Hundley behind the plate, or do you bring back Piazza. To everyone’s delight, the Mets made Piazza the highest paid player in the game giving him a seven year $91 million dollar contract. When the Mets re-signed him, the Mets seemed assured of returning to the postseason.
And they did with the help of both Piazza and Hundley. With Piazza back in the fold, the Mets had to move Hundley. That spurned two shrewd moves by Steve Phillips that helped build a supporting cast around their superstar. Hundley was traded for Roger Cedeno and Charles Johnson, the same Johnson who was traded by the Marlins to acquire Piazza. Cedeno would spend 1999 being tutored by Rickey Henderson, and he would set the then Mets single season record for stolen bases while manning right field. Phillips would then flip Johnson for Armando Benitez, who would become a dominant closer out of the bullpen.
Piazza was dominant that year. He hit .301/.361/.575 with 40 homers, a Mets right-handed batter single season record, and 124 RBI, which is the Mets single season record. He led the Mets throught the play-in game and into the NLCS. His seventh inning opposite field home run off John Smoltz in Game Six of the NLCS tied the game at 7-7. In a game they once trailed 5-0 and 7-3 and a series they had trailed three games to none, it seemed like the Mets were on the verge of pulling off the impossible. With a Kenny Rogers walk, they didn’t. The Mets came so close to making the World Series, but they fell short. Even with as much as Piazza gave them, they would need more in order to make it to their first World Series since 1986 and to play in consecutive postseasons in team history.
Amazingly, Piazza had another gear. He would hit .324/.398/.614 with 38 homers and 113 RBI. It remains the highest slugging percentage in team history. The 78 homers and 237 RBI over two years stands as the team records over a two year stretch. He would tie the Mets single season record with three grand slams. In 2000, the Mets would go to the World Series, and they would fall agonizingly close as his shot to center field fell just short of tying the game.
It was a start to an amazing Mets career and part of a Hall of Fame career. Before Piazza left the Mets after the 2005 season, he would hold many records. He would have the most home runs by any right-handed Mets batter and second most all time to Darryl Strawberry. He would also be second to Strawberry in team RBI. He would be passed by David Wright in those catergories. However, Wright wouldn’t pass Piazza in some other catergories. Piazza has the third highest team batting average, and he has the highest slugging percentage in Mets history. He would also hit the most home runs all time by a catcher surpassing Johnny Bench. It was one of many memorable home runs in Piazza’s time with the Mets, which included the June 30, 2000 home run capping a 10 run eighth inning rally that saw the Mets overcome an 8-1 deficit against the Braves, and the most important home run he would ever hit:
Now, Piazza is going to be a Hall of Famer. He is going to be a Hall of Famer in a Mets uniform. It never seemed possible.
Years ago, Mets fans would’ve picked Hundley over Piazza. Almost twenty years later, Piazza chose us when he chose to enter the Hall of Fame as a New York Met joining Tom Seaver as the only Mets in the Hall of Fame. It was an incredible ride that has seen Piazza become perhaps the most beloved Met to ever wear the uniform. He deserves that love and much more. He deserves every congratulation and accolade the Mets, Mets fans, and all of baseball can throw his way.
Thank you Mike Piazza.
In 1985, Major League Baseball made the Home Run Derby a part of the All Star Game Festivities. Darryl Strawberry would become the first ever Met to participate in a Home Run Derby and the only Met to win one. He shared the title with Wally Joyner, who also hit four home runs. Needless to say, it was a much different back then.
No other Met who followed would ever win a Home Run Derby. In 1989, Howard Johnson‘s two home runs fell short of the three home runs hit by Ruben Sierra and Eric Davis. In 1993, Bobby Bonilla would fall short as well as his five home runs were two short of the seven hit by Juan Gonzalez and Ken Griffey, Jr. The Mets would not be close to winning until 2006 with David Wright.
It was that night in Pittsburgh that Wright seemed to be emerging from star to superstar. With Paul Lo Duca as hit pitcher, Wright would hit 16 homers in the first round. He made it all the way to the finals before losing to Ryan Howard. In 2013, when the All Star Game was hosted at Citi Field, Wright would acquit himself well hitting five home runs. However, he would not make it out of the first round. Not many would notice as Wright wasn’t the story of that Home Run Derby. It was Yoenis Cespedes flashing La Potencia:
Cespedes wowed the crowd with 17 first round homers en route to winning the 2013 Home Run Derby. It was on that night that Cespedes’ legend began. It was on that night that Mets fans began to become infatuated with him. Three years later, he’s now their best player, and with him goes their hopes of returning to the World Series.
At the end of the 2014 season, Modells had a sale to clear out some of their baseball inventory. As luck would have it, there was a children’s David Wright jersey on sale for $15. As I left Modells that way, Wright jersey in hand, I never imagined my son may not have an opportunity to wear the jersey.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, with free agency on the horizon, Wright had signed a seven year deal that effectively was going to make him a Met for life. When his contract expired, Wright was going to be the all-time leader in nearly every offensive category there was. At this time, Wright was really transitioning from the young superstar Cliff Floyd took under his wing to the mentor of a new crop of Mets players he was going to lead to the World Series. It was his destiny much in the way that it was the destiny for Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry in the 80’s. As we saw with Doc and Darryl, life gets in the way. The things outside baseball can take everything from you.
For Doc and Darryl, it was substance abuse. Both of them have missed out on the Hall of Fame, and God knows what else, because of these issues. It may not have robbed them of their careers, but it did rob them of their greatness. It robbed them of their seemingly assured path to Cooperstown.
For Wright, his body is failing him. While Wright has lost some time and some great seasons to injuries, no one expected the spinal stenosis. The spinal stenosis has robbed him of his ability to truly be an everyday player. It may have robbed him of his chance to put up the numbers he needed to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, through almost sheer grit and determination, Wright wasn’t going to let the spinal stenosis rob him of his chance to win the World Series. Seeing Wright play this year was to be all the most impressed and amazed with him. No, he wasn’t the Wright of old. No one expected that. Instead, he was an effective major league player. He was hitting .226/.350/.438 with a 115 OPS+. He had eight doubles and seven home runs. More impressively, he homered in each of his last three games.
There was almost a certain beauty to what Wright was doing. He was taking everything he had, and he was willing himself to be great again. He was able to combine his experience with what physical tools he still had to be an effective to very good major league third baseman. While many feared he might be a drain on the Mets, he actually proved to be one of their better everyday players.
Then, because life is not fair, disaster struck yet again.
In addition to Wright’s spinal stenosis, he is now dealing with a herniated disc in his neck. Initially, he wanted no part of surgery. He wanted to return this year. He wanted to help the Mets win the World Series. He wanted to hit another home run at Citi Field. He earned that right, and he was going to do everything he could do to experience it this year. As we learned yesterday, the chances of Wright’s return became all the more remote. Yes, he still wants to rehab and try to avoid the surgery in his neck. However, almost tellingly, Wright is now speaking with doctors about certain surgical options. A surgery on his neck would almost assuredly end his 2016 season. After that, who knows?
Now, as we saw last year and this year with Wright, we can never count him out. He is going to do what he can to be on that field to lead the Mets to the World Series. There is still hope he can return. He should return. He deserves to leave that field not just with a World Series, but on his own power. He should be able to make his own decision. It shouldn’t be forced upon him. However, the more time passes, the more you question if that is going to happen. Sometimes baseball can be cruel, and right now it is being about as cruel as it can get for David Wright.
Whenever Wright’s career is over, he will have retired as the greatest homegrown Met’s position player. He will be the greatest Met to spend his entire career with the team. As time progresses, Mets fans will talk about him in the way that Yankee fans talk about Don Mattingly, which would be all the more fitting as both players had their Hall of Fame chances and their careers taken away from them due to back injuries.
Selfishly, I just want Wright to hold on just a little longer. I want to see him win that World Series. I want my son to have some David Wright memories of his own. I want him to be able to wear his David Wright jersey to something other than David Wright Day.
In 1966, the Mets made what was perhaps their worst decision in franchise history. With the first overall pick in the draft, the Mets selected Steve Chilcott. It was the worst decision in franchise history not only because Chilcott never played in the majors. It was the worst decision in franchise history for the reasons why the Mets didn’t make the obvious pick.
No, the Mets passed on a player named Reginald Martinez Jackson, or as you better know him, Reggie Jackson. This wasn’t a case of a player being overlooked for another player. No, Reggie was widely seen as the best player in that draft as was evidenced by the then Kansas City Athletics selecting him with the second overall pick in the draft. The Mets didn’t pass on Reggie because they felt stronger about Chilcott than other organizations (although they might have). They didn’t pass on Reggie because they believed he wasn’t suited for New York (turns out he was). They didn’t even pass on him because they felt there was an organizational need for a catcher (they didn’t with Jerry Grote aboard). No, the Mets passed on Reggie for the dumbest reason of all – racism. It turns out the Mets didn’t like the fact that he was dating a Hispanic woman.
When Reggie Jackson got his opportunity to exact revenge upon the Mets, he did. Reggie was the MVP of the 1973 World Series. While the Mets were floundering in the late 70’s, barely getting over a million fans to Shea Stadium, actually lower in other years, Reggie was leading the Yankees to the 1977 and 1978 World Series. In 1993, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Yankee.
Meanwhile, Chilcott flamed out at 23, in part, because he suffered a shoulder injury. Chilcott became an unfortunate footnote in MLB history as the first ever first overall pick not to make the majors. It’s worth nothing that the Mets did eventually get the first overall pick right when they picked Darryl Strawberry in 1980. It’s also worth nothing that no first overall pick made the Hall of Fame until this summer when the 1987 first overall pick, Ken Griffey, Jr. will officially be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Overall, the MLB draft is full of hits and misses. It’s natural for players to be compared with the players who were drafted above and below them. Drafting in major league baseball is an inexact process. We were reminded of that this past weekend with Jose Fernandez shutting down the Mets, while the player drafted immediately before him, Brandon Nimmo, is still developing in AAA. However, we can live with decisions like Nimmo over Fernandez as there were sound reasons to draft Nimmo over Fernandez. If Nimmo continues his current development, he will become an effective major league player. That’s a lot more than anyone can say about Chilcott.
It’s important to keep the Reggie Jackson/Steve Chilcott situtation in mind each and every draft. There are busts, and there are players who exceed expectations. The only thing you can ask of your team is to have the right process in place when making draft picks. The Mets didn’t have the right approach in 1966. Presumably now, even in the absence of Paul De Podesta, the Mets have the right process in place. As such, we know the Mets are going to make a decision based upon the proper criteria. Accordingly, we know that the Mets are about to make a much better draft pick than the one they made in 1966.
In many ways, there’s a cognitive dissonance between honoring the 1986 World Series Champions and celebrating them.
The honoring part is easy. These are the players I grew up adoring. My Dad got me hooked on the Mets by using my love of strawberry ice cream. He kept telling me about this Darryl Strawberry kid coming to the majors as if I knew what the minor leagues were. When Strawberry first came up in 1983, he took me to Shea Stadium for my first game. Strawberry became my first favorite player.
As I got a little older, I became a huge Gary Carter fan. He’s one of the reasons why I wanted to become a catcher. The other was my father and uncles assured me it was a great path to the majors. Even with that, Carter was the reason I wanted to wear the number 8. I idolized him. I idolized everyone on that 1986 team growing up. Honoring them comes easy.
I don’t celebrate the 1986 season for the same reason I don’t celebrate the 1969 season – I was too young. On October 27, 1986, I was only six years old. Now, we can all remember parts of our youth from when we were six. However, there is no way I can recall the 1986 season or the postseason. Looking back on it, my lone memory was the Buckner play. It was my first ever “where were you?” moment.
The answer was in my parent’s basement attending my aunt’s engagement party. I was sitting on my future uncle’s (or future former uncle’s) sister’s lap. My little brother was next to me. Both families were watching on one of those 14″ televisions with the old rabbit ears.
I remember how quiet everything was. I then remember the tension of the moment. I remember the ball going through Bill Buckner‘s legs. I remember everyone going crazy. I remember sharing my tee ball wisdom with my Dad about how a ball shouldn’t do through your legs if you use two hands. That’s it. I remember nothing before, and I don’t remember Game 7. In fact, I have no vivid baseball memories until the 1988 NLCS. Coincidentally, Game 3, the game Jay Howell was ejected for using pine tar, was the same day as the aforementioned aunt’s bridal shower.
Accordingly, it’s difficult for me to celebrate that team, that championship. I had just one fleeting moment amongst well over 175 moments. I had no real attachments to that team. I had just one moment.
I’ll always honor that team as all Meys fans will. They were the greatest Mets team of my lifetime. It was a team full of players I grew up watching and idolizing as only a little boy can. Celebrating them is the hard part. For the most part, 1986 isn’t part of my story as a fan, at least for the most part. When I cheer, I’m cheering the story, not the experience.
I look forward to seeing those players greet the fans tonight. They deserve each and every cheer and accolade that comes their way. It all makes me wish I was a part of it in some small way.
In 1986, the Mets were lead by two immensely talented players. The first was a 24 year old outfielder named Darryl Strawberry. Coming up, he was thought to be the next Ted Williams. Joining him was a 21 year old young ace named Dwight Gooden. Gooden was unhittable and was starting to do things not even Tom Seaver had done.
Thirty years later, we celebrate these players and their contributions to the Mets last World Series victory.
Yesterday, there was no greater tribute than seeing 23 year old Noah Syndergaard and 23 year old Michael Conforto lead the way. They were wearing the old racing stripe jerseys to boot.
Syndergaard pitched seven innings allowing only six hits, one unearned run, and no walks while striking out 11. This year he’s 5-2 with a 1.94 ERA, a 0.978, WHIP, and an 11.3 K/9. He’s doing things not even Dwight Gooden or Tom Seaver have ever done:
Noah Syndergaard: 1st pitcher in Mets history to have 10 K, 0 BB, and 0 earned runs allowed in back-to-back starts pic.twitter.com/PXWlqIgtjj
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 23, 2016
Part of the reason he earned the win yesterday was due to Conforto’s homer in the first inning.
For the second year in a row, Conforto is showing no moment is too big for him. He has shown himself to be a natural born hitter. This year he’s hitting .284/.358/.553 with eight homers and 24 RBI. He has an astounding 146 OPS+.
Overall, thirty years later the Mets are once again led by two budding superstars in their early twenties. History is repeating itself. Hopefully, history will keep on repeating itself straight through October.
Between 1984 – 1990, the Mets finished in second place or better. Over the course of these seven seasons, the Mets averaged 95 wins. Without question, this was the best stretch in Mets history. It’s strange to think that any point in time your team averages 95 wins over the course of five seasons, you are disappointed. However, as Ron Darling expained to Mike Francesa, he feels “very disappointed” that the Mets didn’t accomplish more.
While Dariling’s feelings are understandable, and many Mets fans would agree with him, there are a number of reasons that we can point to as the reason why the Mets didn’t win more. Rick Sutcliffe went an amazing 16-1 after the Cubs acquired him helping them win the division in 1984. The Mets had to contend with a really good Cardinals team year in and year out. The Mets were snakebit with injuries during the 1987 season. The Mets ran into Orel Hershiser, who had one of the greatest seasons for a pitcher ever in 1988, in the NLCS. However, truth be told Davey Johnson managed a horrific series. In 1989, the team was in transition, and in 1990, the Pittsburgh Pirates were just better and were embarking on their own run. All of these reasons are valid, but the main reason everyone points to would be the drug problems, namely with Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.
There’s another reason why those Mets teams only got one shot at a World Series – the postseason format. Back in that time frame, the only teams that went to the postseason were the division winners. In today’s game, it would be unheard of a team winning 98 games not only missing the postseason, but also missing the postseason by three games. If you apply, the current postseason rules and divisional formats to the 1980’s, the Mets would have had won the NL East for all seven of those seasons. Its possible that instead of talking about the 1986 World Series, we’re talking about the Mets’ dynasty. It’s possible the Mets would’ve won multiple World Series during that stretch. It’s also possible that like the Braves in the 90’s, the Mets would only win one World Series, and we would be left questioning what happened.
Whatever may be the case, it’s apparent that those Mets teams did not get as many chances to reach the postseason as this current Mets team will. Last year, the Mets won the NL East with 90 wins. From 1984 – 1990, the Mets only won the NL East in the two seasons they won 100 games.
There is no reason for this Mets team to only go to the postseason twice with their current core group of players. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard are under team control until 2019. Young players like Michael Conforto already contributing, There are big prospects like Dilson Herrera and Amed Rosario who we should see within the next few seasons at Citi Field contributing to what is already a World Series contending team. Without being too unreasonable, I believe this Mets team is set to contend for a longer period of time than Ron Darling’s Mets’ teams. To expect that seems unreasonable, but when you consider the young talent already on the team and in the pipeline, it’s certainly possible.
So before the Mets play their home opener today, they’re going to raise 2015 National League Champions flag. As we saw again that postseason, there is a lot that can happen along the way that can help you advance in each series. If not for Daniel Murphy having a game for the ages, and the Dodgers being unable to hit deGrom despite him having nothing, the Mets lose in the NLDS. The Mets are instead raising at 2015 National League East flag. So no, the 2016 season is not World Series or bust, nor in retrospect is the Mets only winning one World Series from 1984 – 1990 really disappointing.
With that said, I don’t blame Ron Darling for feeling the way he does. I won’t blame the current Mets players from feeling the same way about 2015. There is a World Series championship in the Mets clubhouse. Whether that is in 2016 or later, we do not know yet. Right now, I will say that as long as this Mets group wins one World Series, I won’t be disappointed because I will have been able to see something that has only happened twice in the Mets 54 year history. No matter what happens in 2016, it promises to be a special season, and I can’t wait to watch each and every minute of it.
Lets Go Mets.
When you are the Captain of a team, you’re the designated leader of the team. As the leader, you are tasked with leading both in and out of the clubhouse. At least publicly, you need to have your teammates back.
“Ask Matt,” Wright replied trying to stifle a grin. “If he’s talking to you.”
We tried again a minute later. This time the question was about Harvey thriving on the controversy, maybe even performing better under these types of circumstances. Wright smiled.
“I am not Matt Harvey’s mouthpiece,” Wright said. “I imagine playing in the big leagues, getting a chance to pitch on Opening Day, should be motivation enough. So I expect him to go out there and pitch well.”
I’m not suggesting Wright was malicious here. What I am suggesting is it’s a bad moment for him. He’s grinning while talking about Harvey’s media boycott. He’s declaring he’s not Harvey’s mouthpiece.
You know what we didn’t see here? Quotes about how his teammate was treated unfairly. Maybe as a leader of the team, Wrighf could’ve not spoken to the media at all. Maybe he could’ve had his teammate’s back after the way the media treated Harvey. Sometimes being a Captain is about biting your tongue. Wright should’ve gone to Keith Hernandez for some advice on how to handle the situation.
Back in 1989, the beginning of the end of the Mets terrific run, Darryl Strawberry tried to start not one, but two fights with Hernandez at picture day. At the time Strawberry was upset with Hernadez because he did not support Strawberry’s threats to walk out in the team over a contract dispute. Hernandez supported Strawberry’s request for a new contract, but he also advised that it was a mistake for Strawberry to threaten the front office.
These quotes, the fact that Strawberry was seated next to Hernandez, and probably some of Strawberry’s other demons came to a head. Despite the media being there, Strawberry tried to fight him twice.
After the altercations, the media finally caught up with Hernandez. What did the twice attacked Keith Hernandez have to say about the incident? He simply stated, “It was unfortunate, but we will be fine.” Strawberry was unhinged and tried to attack him twice, and Hernadez simply swept it under the rug.
You couldn’t blame Hernandez if he went off on Strawberry there, but he didn’t. He did what a Captain does. He didn’t make it a bigger deal. At least publicly, he gave no indication of any prior or lingering problems. He at least tried to make things easier for his teammate. It’s what Wright should have done.
There was no one forcing Wright to talk to the media. No one was forcing him to say he wasn’t Harvey’s mouthpiece. These were Wright’s choices. With these choices, he was quoted in an article about how Harvey needs to talk to the media, about how he’s going to make things harder for his teammates. Whether intentional or not, whether or not it was malicious, Wright came off as the good guy, and Harvey came off as small and petty. Wright looked like the good teammate while Harvey looked like the bad teammate.
A Captain has to know better. Furthermore, Wright has been in New York for 12 years. He has to know better. With his responses, he gave the media yet another story about Harvey.
Wright has been a terrific Met. He’s been great with the media and fans. He wasn’t a good Captain or teammate yesterday. Hopefully, he will get better because his teammates need a Captain who will stand up to a tough New York media, not feed it with more stories about his teammate.
Growing up, my favorite player was Darryl Strawberry. My brother’s was Dwight Gooden. Both were addicted to drugs. Both ruined their careers over it. Both forced my father to talk about it with my brother and I as these issues arose. I remembered that yesterday when reading Jared Diamond’s Tweet:
You're at the game with your daughter today. How do you respond to Aroldis Chapman coming into pitch? What do you say? I honestly don't know
— Jared Diamond (@jareddiamond) March 10, 2016
I have to be honest. Thoughts like this can keep me up at times at night. With my son being two, I fortunately will not have to answer questions like this for quite a while. However, there will come a day I will have to answer these questions.
Where to begin?
Well, first off, I think it’s not just a father-daughter question. I think it’s a father-child question. Additionally, I think it’s an opportunity for a parent. It’s a teachable moment. It’s a time to address not just the acts and ramifications, but also why a player like Aroldis Chapman is still allowed to play baseball.
In having this discussion, the overriding principle should be honesty.
I would start with how a man should never ever lay his hand on a woman. A man should never ever physically threaten or denigrate a woman. Those are not the actions of a real man. I never have and never will treat his mother like that. I expect he will never treat a woman that way.
I would then explain that he was punished for his actions. No, I don’t agree with the suspension. I thought he got off easy. With that said, he was punished for his actions, and it did cost him about $1.7 million. It has also damaged his reputation. Wherever he goes for the rest of his life, he’s going to be associated with these actions.
As for why he’s still allowed to play? It’s twofold. First, he served a suspension, and he’s allowed to return. And yes, he should be allowed to return. Chapman deserved his suspension. He served his punishment. Anytime anyone serves their punishment, they have a right to return. They have a right to turn their lives around. Chapman is no different.
I’d also point out the obvious. Chapman is playing because he can throw 100 MPH. No one would want him if he wasn’t uniquely talented. It’s why he’s getting a second chance. It’s why someone will always be interested in giving him a chance. It will never excuse what he did, but when you are great at something someone will always give you a chance. With that said, in anything you do in life going forward, always be cognizant that one mistake or one action can take everything away no matter how great you are.
The most difficult question to answer is why would I root for him. You see I don’t root for him. I root for the Mets. I root for the Mets because I always have through thick and thin. I root for the Mets like my Dad does. The Mets are more than just one player. Sure, there will always be a player or two I don’t like. There may be a player that has done something as vile as what Chapman did. No, I don’t like having a player like Chapman on the Mets, but I don’t get a say in who plays for the Mets.
So yes, it’s alright to root for the Mets. It’s alright to cheer when someone like Chapman helps your team. I just wouldn’t buy his jersey or cheer him when he’s announced.
At least this is what I hope I will do.
In 1987, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry became the first Mets to have a 30-30 season. HoJo would do it again in 1989 and 1991. The Mets would not have another 30-30 season for another 16 years when HoJo was the Mets hitting coach.
In 2007, under HoJo’s tutelage, David Wright joined the 30-30 club. Since that time, the Mets organization once again has had a drought. Over the past nine years, the Mets have not had a 30-30 season. It’s not that surprising.
What is surprising is that with all the young exciting talent in baseball, the sport is in the middle of a drought of 30-30 players. As Andrew Simons reports on MLB.com, baseball is in the midst of a drought of 30-30 players. Since the aforementioned 1987 season, there was a 30-30 player every year until 2012. Baseball has not seen one since.
Looking at the Mets roster, Wright is the only player who has had a 30-30 season. Looking over the Mets roster, Wright is the only player that has had a 30+ homerun season and a 30+ stolen base season. He hasn’t had a 30 homerun season since 2008. He hasn’t had a 30 stolen base season since 2007. With his back, no one should anticipate Wright accomplishing either of those tasks let alone both in one season. Overall, if baseball is going to have a 30-30 player this year, it’s not going to come from the Mets.
That’s fine. It’s a statistical anomaly that has little correlation to successful teams. As we see with 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2007, those 30-30 seasons did not lead to playoff berths. Seeing a player accomplish a 30-30 season is fun, but it’s not as fun as a playoff berth.