David Wright

Henrik Lundqvist, Long May He Reign

When you look through sports in New York, the legends always win. No, we’re not talking about beloved players like David Wright. We’re talking true legends.

Every Yankees legend has a ring. Tom Seaver won with the 1969 Mets. The famed Knicks teams have two. LT has two, and even Namath and the Jets have one. The Islanders have their dynasty.

After 54 years, Leetch and the Rangers got his as well in one that may have to last a lifetime.

It’s funny. For it being the world’s most famous arena, it just seems to come up short over the last 25+ years in delivering titles with all-time great players. First, Patrick Ewing. Now, Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist could be the best Ranger of all-time. He might be the best hockey player in New York history. He’s definitively the best player to ever leave New York without a title.

That’s what happens when the Rangers officially buy out his contract later today. It is a decision which hurts, but in the end, it’s the right decision for all involved. Hopefully, everyone feels respected in the process.

The Rangers just couldn’t get it quite right. They had a legendary goaltender who was the driving force behind the Rangers going to the Conference Finals in three out of four years.

Maybe with a fair whistle, he and the Rangers have a Cup, but sadly, it didn’t happen. From there, the team had just one more run in them.

At the moment, the Stanley Cup, a living championship trophy, is incomplete without Lundqvist’s name etched onto it. Maybe Lundqvist goes somewhere next year, and he accomplishes what Ray Bourque and Dominic Hasek did before him.

Even if he doesn’t, it doesn’t change how great he is. For all the talk about his not winning a Stanley Cup, people conveniently forget he led Sweden to Olympic Gold in 2006. On the highest stage with the best players in the world, Lundqvist reigned.

And he still reigns because he’s not just a Rangers legend, or a hockey legend. He’s a New York legend.

Babe Ruth was the Sultan. Henrik Lundqvist is the King. He has been and always will be.

We will miss Lundqvist in a Rangers sweater between the pipes because he’s the best to ever do it. We look forward for his 30 hanging from the Garden rafters, and and we look to see what he does next.

Before all that, Rangers fans everywhere thank you. The past 15 years were among the best in Rangers history and that had come on the heels of the worst period in Rangers history.

You were responsible for that, and we loved you for it. Thank you.

-30-

20/20 Hindsight: Mets Rays of Hope Gone

No, the Mets have not been eliminated from the postseason . . . yet. Sadly, even with some things breaking their way, they couldn’t take advantage:

1. People can anoint Trevor Bauer the Cy Young all they want, but Jacob deGrom still has a start remaining to establish once again he’s the best pitcher in baseball.

2. Again, putting deGrom up against pitchers not pitching in the NL or AL East is absurd as NL Central and West pitchers face completely different competition.

3. On that note, the level of competition the two pitchers have faced is completely different with Bauer dominating some of the absolute worst offensive teams in the game.

4. You do have to wonder how different things would be with deGrom’s campaign and really this entire Mets season of Wilson Ramos was capable of tagging a guy at home plate.

5. Edwin Diaz finally has more saves than blown saves this year.

6. Mets continue to be the Mets first announcing Michael Conforto was getting a day off for a must win game and then finally admitting he had a hamstring issue.

7. Conforto’s chances of signing an extension increased not just with Steve Cohen buying the Mets, but also with Sandy Alderson returning to the organization.

8. Should Conforto sign an extension, he’s going to knock David Wright off the top of the Mets all-time leaderboards.

9. It’s a shame Conforto broke down and Dominic Smith went in a slump for the final last ditch push. It’s a downright shame no one was really able to pick them up like they picked up the team this season.

10. Between J.D. Davis batting second or third despite his not hitting and Michael Wacha making starts despite his having no business pitching another inning for this team, it’s clear Brodie Van Wagenen decided to make this season about showcasing his acquisitions in the hopes of getting a new job.

11. Steven Matz went from breaking out in the second half last year to a great Spring Training to maybe pitching his way to a non-tender.

12. Matz is a clear example of a guy Jeff Wilpon would instruct dropped from his team with him being shocked the player succeeded away from the team. For some reason, despite this having happened continuously, there is still a contingent of Mets fans who still defend the team on this type of dumb decisions.

13. Ultimately, the juiced ball last year and the abbreviated 60 game season have made it near impossible to have a real evaluation and analysis of players.

14. Speaking of which, it was great to see Pete Alonso remind us how great he can be. The question is if he can be that over a 162 game season without the juiced ball. There are many indicators which suggest he can, but we still don’t know.

15. The Rays showed the Mets all the things this organization has flat out ignored with defense and good base running actually matter, and the end game isn’t to collect a bunch of bats to plug and play regardless of fit.

16. Again, we see in this series Seth Lugo can be a starter. However, the bullpen is a flat out mess without him.

17. Fortunately, the Mets have the deep pockets of Steve Cohen, and the beginnings of the right front office to address not only the bullpen, but also catcher, third, center, and the rotation.

18. It looks like Alderson is going to get his chance to do what he wanted to do when he took over the Mets. Essentially, that’s exactly what the Dodgers did.

19. After these last four games, it’s good riddance to the Wilpons. That’s both with the Mets and the horrendous SNY they created.

20. There’s no more fitting end to the Wilpon era than the team finishing below .500 despite having a top offense, the best pitcher in baseball, and an expanded postseason.

Game Recaps

No Rays of Hope after this Mets Loss

Pete Alonso Returns

Mets Ensure Under .500 Finish With Brodie’s Pitching Staff

The Wilpons Final Embarrassment

Through the Wilpons majority ownership, we have seen one embarrassing moment after the next. It just never ended with them, not even when times were good.

An injured Pedro Martinez was forced to pitch a meaningless game for a gate. They fired Willie Randolph after a win and one game into a west coast trip.

The Wilpons nearly lost everything in a Ponzi scheme, and in a puff piece to help salvage their image, Fred Wilpon unnecessarily and unfairly maligned Carlos Beltran and David Wright.

Leigh Castergine was fired. Jose Reyes was brought back and held out as a role model.

They had Steve Cohen offer well over market value for the team, and the financially strapped Wilpons bungled the deal. They bungled it over control of the team and escalating salaries for them. Now, they’re looking to sell the team for what is likely a lower price.

By all accounts, 2020 is it for the Wilpons. After this season, they’re gone. But seeing them in action all of these years, you knew they couldn’t go out without embarrassing themselves, the Mets franchise, and all of baseball one last time.

Tonight was that night.

As a backdrop, Dominic Smith bore his soul in an emotional post game news conference. Michael Conforto said he’d have Smith’s back, and he made good by working with the Marlins to not play akin to what the NBA and other MLB teams were doing.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen would address this with reporters. Keep in mind, this exchange which was supposed to be off the record was posted to the Mets website:

Well, when you trash the commissioner, and it gets public, there are going to be ramifications, and the need for apologies need to proceed.

First up, was Van Wagenen who both apologized to Commissioner Rob Manfred and pinned the blame for the poorly received idea on Jeff Wilpon:

Well, that apparently wasn’t sufficient. This incident actually required the Wilpons to spring to action. Fred and Jeff Wilpon offered their version of events and apologies:

Both Fred and Jeff Wilpon managed to misspell Brodie as Brody. This was just a perfect encapsulation of who the Wilpons are and their failed stewardship of the Mets organization.

Their organization took the players emerging and bungled it. The same owners who had NOTHING to say publicly when Smith cried rushed to admonish their GM and misspelled his name in the process.

Even better, they took ownership of an idea universally dismissed as plain stupid and seen as insensitive by many. While this was happening, one of the Mets official accounts called for Manfred to be fired.

If this was anyone other than the Wilpons, you’d be absolutely shocked at the level of incompetence involved here. Seeing how this is the Wilpons, you can’t be remotely shocked they were a complete embarrassment one last time.

Shame On Brodie Van Wagenen And Wilpons For Not Publicly Supporting Dominic Smith

After last night’s game, Dominic Smith was moved to tears speaking about his pain and fears. He was raw, emotional, and honest. It moved many people. It led Mets fans to go out and buy his jersey and support his foundation.

We also saw former Mets players like Paul Lo Duca speak to how moved they were by hearing Smith’s words.

Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen? Well, he’s been silent. He has had no quotes for the published articles on the moment. He also has sent no tweets

Remember, this was the same man who had been caught illegally texting game decisions to the clubhouse. Van Wagenen can reach his phone to text for his manager to make a pitching change, but he can’t reach his phone to send a tweet in support of one of his players who was clearly in pain.

The same goes for the Wilpons. They’ve been silent. This is still their organization, and there’s been no press release or quote in support of Smith.

Remember, they were the ones who once silenced Carlos Delgado‘s protests and trashed Mets players like Carlos Beltran and David Wright to the New Yorker.

Dominic Smith clearly felt all alone yesterday, and it caused him pain. That was a time for Van Wagenen and the Wilpons to come out and publicly support him. They opted not to do so.

Dominic Smith deserved better than that from them. We all do.

Just make this the latest exhibit in a very long line as to why we’re all counting down the days until the Wilpons are gone. This is another example why Van Wagenen needs to follow them out the door.

Mets Fan Favorite Tournament: Final Four

After going through each of their brackets, all of the top seeds advanced to the Final Four. Instead of having individual match-ups to create a championship game, instead we’re going to have all four top seeds battle it out at the same time.

(1) Tom Seaver – Seaver is dubbed The Franchise for taking the team from a losing franchise to World Series winners. He holds nearly every pitching record in team history, and he is considered to be, if not the greatest, among the greatest right-handed pitchers in Major League history. He was the first Mets player to have his number retired, and he was the first Mets player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To date, he is the starting pitcher with the highest percent of the vote.

(1) Keith Hernandez – His trade to the Mets was widely credited with bringing the Mets to prominence. Won a team record five Gold Gloves at first base further cementing reputation as best defensive first baseman of all-time. Member of the 1986 World Series team who famously threatened Jesse Orosco and Gary Carter not to throw another fastball to Kevin Bass. Was named the first captain in team history. Has become part of the iconic and loved GKR on SNY broadcasts.

(1) Mike Piazza – greatest offensive catcher in Major League history who decided to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. Second player to have his number retired by the Mets. Hit a number of big homers for the franchise including one capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves and the one post 9/11. Mets all-time leader in slugging and second in OPS. All over the single season and career top 10 offensive categories. Took those late 90s Mets teams over the top. Caught final pitch at Shea Stadium and first pitch at Citi Field.

(1) David Wright – The franchise leader in nearly every offensive category and is widely considered to be the best position player in franchise history. Only homegrown Met to be named team captain. Dubbed Captain America for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Once named by Bill James as the perfect baseball player. Seven time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time Silver Slugger. Hit the first Mets homer in Citi Field, and he hit the first ever World Series homer in Citi Field. Had perhaps the most emotional good-bye game we have ever seen a player in sports history ever have. A lifetime Met who had a hand in helping ensure Jacob deGrom does the same.

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A-Rod Disqualified Himself To Be Mets New Owner

Mets fans have had enough of the Wilpons and their half measures. It’s dragged down the franchise and cost them a real shot at long runs of being in contention. Everything the Wilpons do is the wrong way to run a New York baseball franchise.

It’s looking at David Wright and Jose Reyes as an either/or as opposed to a both/and. It’s signing Michael Cuddyer to be a big bat. It’s letting players like Daniel Murphy and Zack Wheeler walk. It’s trading for Robinson Cano and keeping Justin Dunn and Jarred Kelenic instead of signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.

New Mets ownership was supposed to prevent this and other nonsense. No forcing Pedro Martinez to pitch through an injury, or trying to deny Carlos Beltran or Yoenis Cespedes career saving surgery. Having a real analytics department. There’s just so much which could be different under new ownership, including but not limited to, the Mets’ mid market payroll.

For Mets fans, there’s just one litmus test. The next owner must be fully committed to winning, and they will do what they need to do to win.

That’s exactly why Alex Rodriguez disqualified himself today when he said:

“The only way it’s going to happen is if they get to the table and say the No. 1 goal, let’s get from $10 to $15 billion and then we’ll split the economics evenly,” he said Thursday during a conference call. “But that’s the type of conversation instead of fighting and fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.

(ESPN).

A-Rod later stressed he didn’t call for a salary cap, but that’s just backtracking. Truth be told, what he described was a salary cap. That’s where he lost each and every Mets fan.

Steve Cohen is out there ready to flex his financial might. There are other billionaires involved in the bidding. The Mets simply don’t need A-Rod and his cast of retired basketball players. No, they need someone who will do what it takes to win.

We’re already seeing exactly why A-Rod has been disqualified in Mets fans eyes. Hopefully, MLB feels the same way.

Citi Bracket Final: (1) David Wright vs. (2) Jacob deGrom

(1) David Wright – The franchise leader in nearly every offensive category and is widely considered to be the best position player in franchise history. Only homegrown Met to be named team captain. Dubbed Captain America for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Once named by Bill James as the perfect baseball player. Seven time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time Silver Slugger. Hit the first Mets homer in Citi Field, and he hit the first ever World Series homer in Citi Field. Had perhaps the most emotional good-bye game we have ever seen a player in sports history ever have. A lifetime Met who had a hand in helping ensure Jacob deGrom does the same.

(2) Jacob deGrom – 2014 Rookie of the Year winner. Two time All-Star who would’ve been three had he not stepped aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016. Struck out three batters on 10 pitches in 2015 All-Star Game. Had phenomenal postseason start in Game 1 of 2015 NLDS. Followed that up with gutsy win in Game 5. Was 3-1 with a 2.88 ERA in the 2015 postseason helping the Mets win the pennant. First ever Mets pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young awards. Only pitcher in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year and back-to-back Cy Youngs. Joins Tom Seaver and Justin Verlander as the only pitchers in MLB history to have a Rookie of the Year and two Cy Youngs. Arguably the second best starter in Mets history.

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Ranking Mets Managers

Typically speaking, deciding who is “THE BEST” at something is a futile endeavor. After all, trying to apply objective measures to reach a subjective opinion is a concept somewhat at odds with itself.

In terms of baseball, it’s nearly impossible with the change of eras. Should Babe Ruth be considered the best ever when he played before integration? Should Barry Bonds be disqualified due to PEDs? Should we split the difference and say it’s Willie Mays?

Again, there’s just too many factors at play to determine who is THE BEST. To that end, we should look at this more as who’s in the discussion rather than who is atop the list.

In terms of the Mets, we know Tom Seaver is the best player to ever play for the team. That’s one of the rare instances where it’s clear-cut. It’s far from clear-cut on the manager side.

For 25 years, it was clearly Gil Hodges. He led the Miracle Mets to the 1969 World Series partially due to innovation. Hodges utilized platoons, and he might’ve been the first manager to utilize a five man rotation.

As we all know Hodges never got the chance to cement himself as the best manager ever as he suddenly died of a heart attack on the eve of the 1972 season. You can’t help but wonder what he could’ve done with the Mets getting Rusty Staub.

In 1984, the Mets hired Davey Johnson, who arguably went on to become the best manager in team history. In addition to winning the 1986 World Series, his teams never finished lower than second in the division.

Johnson was also the only Mets manager to win multiple division titles. In his tenure, his teams averaged 96 wins. It’s part of the reason why he has the most wins and highest winning percentage. Those were the Mets glory years, and he was at the helm.

Arguably, Hodges and Johnson are the Mets two best managers. However, there could be a case for Bobby Valentine.

Valentine is third in terms of wins and winning percentage. He came one year short of Johnson’s team record by having five consecutive winning seasons. However, notably, Valentine’s teams were not as loaded as Johnson’s.

Despite that, Valentine was the first Mets manager to lead the team to consecutive postseasons. He’s the only Mets manager to lead his team to a postseason series victory in consecutive seasons. In fact, he’s the only one to do it in any two seasons.

Overall, that’s the top three, and people should feel comfortable ranking them as they see fit. There’s a justifiable reason to put them in any order from 1-3. That said, Hodges and Johnson have the edge having won a Word Series.

After that trio, it’s fair to say Willie Randolph was a clear fourth. In addition to his leading the Mets to the 2006 NLCS, he never had a losing record while amassing the second best winning percentage in team history. His hand in developing David Wright and Jose Reyes to not only reach their potential, but also handling the city should never be discounted.

Honestly, if that isn’t your 1-4, you’re simply doing it wrong.

Terry Collins has a losing record and the most losses in team history. He blew a World Series. He also unapologetically destroyed reliever careers (see Tim Byrdak, Jim Henderson) while admitting he didn’t want to develop young players like Michael Conforto.

Yogi Berra was the manager who led the Mets to their second pennant, but he also finished with a sub .500 career despite having a World Series contending type of roster for part of his tenure.

After that, well, just consider there are only six Mets managers with a winning record. Two of them, Bud Harrelson and Mickey Callaway, were not generally well regarded for their managerial abilities. After that, there’s a lot of bad, including Hall of Famers Casey Stengel and Joe Torre.

Through Mets history, it’s clear who the four best managers are even if the order isn’t nearly as clear. Past them, it’s an uninspiring debate among pretty poor choices.

In the end, your list is personal to you, and no one can quite tell you you’re right or wrong. That is unless you do something monumentally stupid like having Hodges outside the top three or putting Stengel on your list.

Short of that, everyone’s opinions are valid, and it’s a fun debate. And remember, that’s all this is – a fun debate. It’s nothing more than that because you can’t definitely prove one is better than the other.

Only Hesitation With deGrom Good News

Jacob deGrom left after the first inning of an intrasquad game with a back issue. He has now undergone an MRI, and it was determined there was no structural damage.

This isn’t the first time deGrom had a back issue. Back in his first Cy Young season, he dealt with a back issue near the end of Spring Training. As we know, not only did he not miss a turn through the rotation because of it, deGrom would have an all-time great season en route to his first Cy Young.

If you’re an optimistic person, you could see this as a harbinger of good things to come. Even if you don’t try to grasp at straws to try to paint this as an induction of another great season for deGrom, hearing it’s “just” muscle tightness is a relief.

Well, at least it should be.

If we’re being honest, the Mets have a horrible track record on this. In April 2015 David Wright was only diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Pedro Martinez‘s toe in 2005 preceded a torn labrum in 2006.

Those problems still persistent. Much like with Carlos Beltran in 2010, the Mets initially insisted Yoenis Cespedes didn’t need career saving surgery before relenting. There’s also the matter of Jed Lowrie whose problems are still not fully known or addressed by the Mets.

On Lowrie, aside from making the biggest free agent blunder in team history, they’ve reached new standards in medical diagnosis and treatment. That’s something else.

If you’ll notice, Lowrie’s MRI revealed “no significant damage.”

Soreness became no significant damage. That became soreness behind his knee. That became a capsule strain. After that, the Mets have all but given up on trying to pretend to know what Lowrie’s issue was and is. We just know he can’t play in games until he can play without a knee brace.

So yes, celebrate deGrom not suffering a significant injury. Breathe a sigh of relief. Picture that third Cy Young and World Series trophy. Its hard not to get carried away. After all, deGrom is the best pitcher in baseball, and he should dominate in 2020.

That’s if he can pitch. Considering the Mets history, we can’t be 100% sure. At least not yet. Sure, it’s a melodramatic way of looking at things, but this is the Mets. It’s also 2020 with all the crazy and bizarre things that have happened it’s difficult to trust some good news.

In the end, not trusting deGrom will be fine may be nothing more than paranoia. Well, justified paranoia.

Citi Bracket: (1) David Wright vs. (13) Wilmer Flores

(1) David Wright – The franchise leader in nearly every offensive category and is widely considered to be the best position player in franchise history. Only homegrown Met to be named team captain. Dubbed Captain America for his exploits in the World Baseball Classic. Once named by Bill James as the perfect baseball player. Seven time All-Star, two time Gold Glove winner, and two time Silver Slugger. Hit the first Mets homer in Citi Field, and he hit the first ever World Series homer in Citi Field. Had perhaps the most emotional good-bye game we have ever seen a player in sports history ever have. A lifetime Met who had a hand in helping ensure Jacob deGrom does the same.

(13) Wilmer Flores – Player who loved being a Mets player so much, he cried on the field when he thought he was being traded. Came back to hit a walk-off homer to beat the Nationals. That was one of many walk-off hits, and he would become the Mets all-time leader in that category. Handled shortstop well defensively after Chase Utley tackled and broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg. Joined Edgardo Alfonzo as the only Mets players to go 6-for-6 in a game. Played all four infield positions in effort to do whatever team asked of him to help them win.

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