The Mets Fan
I’m Phil Kerpen, a DC political/policy guy, and I tweet about that and Mets stuff which is kind of a weird mix but some people seem to like it.
I grew up in Brooklyn, but I’ve been in Washington for almost 20 years now. I’ve got four kids and the oldest is six so our house is a pretty busy, but I still try to watch most of the Mets games MLB TV is so great. I still remember listening to strained WFAN signals but these days being a fan in a different city is pretty easy. The first few years after the Expos moved here were pretty great — I got to see the Mets in person for nine games a year, and Mets fans pretty much dominated the sparse crowds at RFK. It’s different now as the Nationals have developed a fan base, but there’s always still a decent Mets contingent here.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I was born in ’79 and started paying attention to baseball in ’85. My brother is a couple years older, and we started collecting baseball cards, watching games, etc. We got an exemption from bedtime for the ’86 World Series, and I’ve been pretty much hooked ever since — although I’ve tried to quit a few times!\n
Favorite Mets Player
Dwight Gooden was my guy as a kid (my brother was a massive Darryl Strawberry fan), so I guess I’d go with him. For a long time, my automatic answer would have been Todd Hundley, but after the Mitchell Report, he’s disqualified. Yoenis Cespedes is my favorite current Met. Hope he brings back his custom walk-up song “The Power” this year — it’s the best.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Can’t top “Little roller up along first,” but the other big one for me personally was the Dave Mlicki shutout at Yankee Stadium in 97. It was about a month after my 18th birthday, and I went with my little brother. Nonstop trash talk with the Yankees fans, and Mlicki was in and out of trouble every inning but somehow managed to pull it off.
Message to Mets Fans
This team is hot garbage.
The 2018 MLB All Star Game in Washington, D.C. is about a month and a half away, and All Star voting on the horizon, the Mets will look to send as many as four players to the Midseason Classic:
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Stats: .313/.352/.523, 15 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1.0 WAR
All-Star Appearnces: 2011, 2012
Cabrera jumped right out of the gate, and he quickly emerged as an early season MVP candidate. When the Mets have needed a big hit, by and large, it has come from Cabrera.
Among qualifying second baseman, Cabrera has the most doubles. He is also in the top five in hits, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, homers, and RBI.
Cabrera’s dip in May has weakened his attempt to become a third time All Star. It’s not going to be an easy path for him with some steep competition coming from Ozzie Albies, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez.
Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: .260/.408/.519, 4 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.2 WAR
All Star Appearances: None
Like Michael Conforto last year, one thing that may complicate Nimmo’s ability to become an All Star is whether or not he will appear on the ballot. While that may prevent him from being elected a starter, his play on the field may force his way onto the roster.
If Nimmo had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would lead all National League outfielders in OBP. His SLG would also be the fourth best in the National League, and quite impressively, his .927 OPS would be the second best behind just A.J. Pollock, who is also going to be out for about two months with a broken left thumb.
Ultimately, this may be too difficult a group to crack for Nimmo as he is battling bigger names like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, who are arguably having better seasons. There may also be a push for a player like Nick Markakis, a good player for a first place team, to make his first All Star appearance in his 13 year career.
Jeurys Familia, RHP
Stats: 2-2, 2.16 ERA, 14 SV, 1.040 WHIP, 11.2 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2016
Among closers, Familia leads the league in games finished, and he is third in saves and ERA. Another consideration, is for a Mets team who has expected a lot from their relievers, Familia ranks third among closers in innings pitched.
These numbers are easy to overlook for many Mets fans when you consider Familia has only converted 14 of 18 save opportunities, and they are still hung up on some postseason failures from the past.
As it pertains to Familia, those stats may no longer be sufficient. As time progresses, we all look less and less to saves as the true measure of a reliever’s worth. Certainly, the emerge of firemen like Josh Hader are going to complicate things for the selection of relievers for the National League bullpen.
Jacob deGrom, RHP
Stats: 4-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2015
Right now, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and he is a lock to represent the Mets in the All Star Game. If the game was not being played in Washington, you could make the case he should start the All Star Game. However, the presence of Max Scherzer will stand in the way of that happening.
What is interesting to note with deGrom is if he doesn’t step aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016, we would be talking about a pitcher who has been in All Star in three out of the last four seasons. That’s something we saw from Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. As this season continues to unfold, you can make the case deGrom deserves consideration of being grouped with those names. If not them, then at least in the conversation as the third best Mets starter of all-time.
In the end, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be joining deGrom. Up until recently, you could have made a case for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, but recent hiccups may be enough to prevent them from being All Stars in their own right. That said, another impressive run from them, or really anyone, could have them joining deGrom as Mets representatives this year.
When the Mets designated Matt Harvey for assignment, it marked the beginning of the end. When he was traded to the Reds for Devin Mesoraco, it was all officially over, and we, as Mets fans, were left trying to figure out what to make of the entire era. In the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we attempt to do just that:
Kid Gorgeous, Kid Presentable, Kid Moe. The first two phases were enjoyable. The third phase was not.
Despite all the negativity surrounding Matt Harvey, I will continue to root for him. This guy has been through a lot, and if you don’t like a good comeback story, you’re not human. I will forever be thankful for his three great years. They’re right up there statistically with the greats. While Matt may need an attitude check, I respect what he’s done and wish him nothing but the best, unless he lands with a rival or the Yankees.
Matt Harvey reminds me a little of Gregg Jefferies in that Jefferies had so much talent and got off to a scalding start with the Mets, but he never quite reached his potential in New York.
Like Harvey, Jefferies also rubbed some people the wrong way. Whereas Jefferies always thought he was better than everyone else even though his production on the field said otherwise, Harvey’s off-the-field antics served as a constant distraction to what was happening on the field. Both players let their egos get the best of them, and because of that, Mets fans never got to see them realize their full potential for an extended period of time.
It’s true that injuries have also taken their toll on Harvey, but he’s had several years to try to reinvent himself and still hasn’t been successful. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him get back to being a serviceable pitcher, just like leaving the Mets extended Jefferies’ career by nearly a decade.
Sad, because this is Doc and Darryl all over again in terms of high end talent not coming close to their ceilings. I’m not going to split hairs about the reasons. Drugs in the first two cases, three surgeries in Harvey’s case. It doesn’t matter. Because those are three careers that could have gone to Cooperstown.
Doc and Darryl’s story didn’t end with the Mets. Guess we will have to wait for Harvey to join the Yanks eventually.
Harvey gave it all on the field, and unfortunately off it. He’s an example of a player putting his brand before his play. The injuries obviously did not help. Deep down I’m still rooting for the guy, since he helped restart the Mets. If he only worried about his teammates more than the models. Maybe when he joins another team like the Angels or the Yankees he will get it all back, and Mets fans will think what could have been?
Love him or hate him, I think we can all agree on 3 words that destroyed his Mets career. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.
Matt Harvey set an impossibly high standard for himself when, as a rookie, he’d figuratively kick himself after a loss, telling reporters that as the starting pitcher, it was his job to give up no runs. For a while, he practically met his own standard for success.
That’s the Harvey I choose to remember: the 2012 version who thought he should be unhittable and the 2013 sequel who made good on his plan.
Earlier, I wrote about Harvey’s career arc with the Mets. Looking back at it, the one thing I came away with it was hope.
Harvey in 2012 gave us hope this rebuilding plan was going to work out. In 2013, Harvey gave us hope the Mets could become a contender again. In 2015, he allowed us to hope this team could win a World Series. Since that time, our hope has been to first reclaim his former glory and later to be an effective MLB pitcher.
Now, he’s gone, and a small part of the hope we had with him is gone too. In some ways, perhaps it was fitting the Mets have shown they can’t win without him. Perhaps . . .
In some ways, I am personally hoping this is the final word of the Harvey tenure with the Mets. At the moment, there are many storylines with the Mets, good and bad, mostly bad, which merits considerable discussion and analysis. Please keep an eye out for these blogs for that thoughtful discussion and analysis. I know I will.
In September 2015, Scott Boras tried to intervene and limit Matt Harvey‘s innings in what could be perceived as an attempt to save the pitcher not just from the Mets, but also from himself. There would be a modified schedule and some skipped starts, but Harvey eventually took the shackles off because he wanted the ball.
Harvey always wanted the ball.
He wanted the ball in the NL East clincher against the Reds. Instead of the five innings he was supposed to pitch, he pitched into the seventh because, well, he wanted to get ready for the postseason, and the Mets were lucky he did.
Harvey won a pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS. With that series going five games, it was Harvey who got the ball in Game 1 of the NLCS. In front of a raucous Citi Field crowd, Harvey set the tone for that series. As he stepped off the mound with two outs in the eighth, he wasn’t tipping his cap. No, he was pumped up like all of Citi Field was because he knew what we all knew . . . this team was going to the World Series.
When telling the story of Matt Harvey, we will forever go back to Game 5. With the Mets team trying to rally back from a 3-1 series deficit, Harvey wanted the ball for the ninth. Terry Collins initially wanted Jeurys Familia, but he relented, and he gave Harvey the ball.
You’d be hard pressed to find a time in Citi Field history louder than when Harvey took the mound in that ninth. A blown lead and Game 5 loss later, you’d never find Citi Field more despondent.
Now, looking back, that Game 5 was the microcosm of Harvey’s Mets career.
He came in, and he gave us all hope the impossible could happen. He brought us all along for the ride. There was no one we wanted out there more than Harvey. And yet at the very end, despite all the hope and brilliance he brought, we were all left in disbelief, and yes, some in tears, over the how and why Harvey was still out there.
Mainly, Harvey was there because despite no matter what anyone said, Harvey wanted to be there, and he was not going to let anyone stop him.
And you know what? Back in 2013, no one could stop him.
In 26 starts, Harvey was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9. His 2.01 FIP that year would not only lead the Majors, but it would be one of the 10 best over the past 100 years. His WHIP still remains a single season Mets record. It may have seemed premature to put him in the conversation with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, but really, it made sense. Harvey was just that good.
He was the reason to watch a terrible Mets team, and on May 7th, he may have pitched the game of his life. If not for an Alex Rios infield single Ruben Tejada could not turn into an out, Harvey likely pitches a perfect game. Instead, he had to settle for a no decision despite allowing just one hit and 12 strikeouts in nine innings. Just file that away next time someone points out his win-loss record.
That game was the signature Harvey moment. He took the mound with a bloody nose. He was reaching near triple digits with this fastball. He was becoming a superstar. He was making Citi Field his playground.
When we look through the history of Citi Field one day, it will be Harvey who emerged as it’s first superstar. He was the one who brought the crowds. He started the first All Star Game at Citi Field. Arguably, he pitched the two best games ever pitched by a Met at that ballpark.
It would be that 2013 season Harvey broke. He tore his UCL, and he needed Tommy John surgery. Mets fans everywhere who were once so hopeful were crushed. There were many low moments in Mets history since the team moved to Citi Field, but that one is among the lowest.
But when he came back in 2015, hope returned. He may not have been 2013 great, but he was great. For all the criticism over his innings limits, he would throw more innings than any pitcher in baseball history in their first season back from Tommy John.
Looking back at that 2015 season, Harvey gave the Mets and their fans everything he had. He pitched great in the regular season, and he was even better in the postseason. Just like in 2013, he was trying to will the Mets back to prominence. He was taking an organization on his back and trying to win a World Series.
It broke him in 2013, and apparently, it broke him again in 2015.
Really, when he stepped off that mound in Game 5 of the World Series, Harvey was done as we knew him. In 2016, he’d be diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome requiring season ending surgery. Last year, Harvey was rushed back to the rotation before he was physically ready, and he suffered a stress reaction. This year, he was healthy, but lost.
Looking back, no one will ever know if Harvey listened to Boras if he’d still be The Dark Knight instead of a guy now looking for a job.
The real shame is how Harvey went out. The same guy who heard the loudest ovations from the fans, the same one who heard Mets fans serenade Stephen Strasburg with “Harvey’s Better!” chants, was booed off the mound the last time he ever pitched on what had once been his mound.
There are some who will find behavioral excuses why Harvey faulted, and maybe they do exist. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a pitcher who was at the top of his game in November only to completely lose it by the next April. Most pitchers get a transition period to figure things out. Harvey’s cruel fate was he had more injuries followed by his getting about a month and a half before being given an ultimatum.
In what once seemed impossible, Harvey was designated for assignment. Sure, Mets fans always expected him to leave one day, but we all thought it would be Harvey who spurned the cheap Wilpon family, not the Wilpons kicking him out the door despite the team still owing him around $4 million.
Much has been made of the Mets crop of starting pitchers, the group who brought them to the 2015 World Series. Make no mistake, Harvey was the best out of the group. Better than Jacob deGrom. Better than Noah Syndergaard.
Really, he was better than anyone not named Seaver or Gooden, and if things had broken right, Harvey could have been a Hall of Famer. He was that good when he was healthy, but he wasn’t healthy making him this generation’s version of Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, or Jon Matlack.
Harvey being designated for assignment wasn’t a shock. With every struggle on the mound, and yes, some personal issues that emerged, he was getting closer and closer to this point. It doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt the Mets fan, the ones who got to experience in the joy of seeing the real Harvey pitch, any less.
There will come a day down the line where all will be forgiven, and we can all just look back and appreciate all Harvey did for the Mets. We can take a step back and marvel how he potentially sacrificed his entire career to win that one World Series. Really, he has never been thanked or appreciated enough for that.
Now, he is looking for a new team and a new fan base. Hopefully, Harvey rediscovers some of that magic he once had, and hopefully, he gets those cheers again. He’s certainly earned them.
And when he does return to Citi Field, whether it be this year or the next, let’s hope he gets that true standing ovation he deserved, the one he might’ve received on Thursday had we all known it was going to be his last game in a Mets uniform.
No matter what happens, Mets fans everywhere should wish him the best of luck. There was a time we showered him with all the love we had, and he returned the favor by giving us everything he had. Everything. Here’s hoping he gets everything he is looking for in his next stop.
I know no matter what he does, I’m rooting of him. More than that I appreciate Harvey for all he did as a Met. Really, best of luck to you, Matt Harvey.
The Mets Fan
I am Glendon Rusch former LHP for the Royals, Mets, Brewers, Cubs, Padres & Rockies in that order. I was drafted by Kansas City in 1993 made my Major League debut in 1997. I was traded to the Mets in September of 1999 for Dan Murray. After retiring in 2009, I relaxed and played golf for 5 years before taking a job with the Padres to be the Pitching Coach for their Cal League team in Lake Elsinore. I was there 2015,16,17 and this year I am at home spending time with my family.
How I Became a Baseball Fan
I first became a baseball player/fan watching my 2 older brothers play when I was very young. Growing up in Seattle I was a huge Mariners and Braves Fan (TBS). I spent many games in the outfield bleachers in the King Dome.
Favorite Mets Player
My 3 favorite Mets all time were Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry and Nails Lenny Dykstra. I wore the number 18 all the way through high school and the minor leagues because of Straw until I got to the Big Leagues and this damn guy named Johnny Damon had it!!
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Favorite moment in Mets history was watching them win the 86 Series and of course us going to the Series in 2000. Most emotional/impactful game had to be the 1st game back after 9/11
Favorite Moment from Your Baseball Career
Most memorable moments of my career were winning my MLB debut in Minnesota, all 3 of my HR’s & walking through the center field gates in game 1 of the World Series at Yankee Stadium in a tie game in the 10th!!
Message to Mets Fans
To the Mets fans!! I am so thankful for my time as a Met and how the fans rooted for me and embraced me while I was there! I wish I could come back now and play for the Mets again and be a part of the Amazing pitching staff they have and most of all be able to listen to The 7 Line Army cheer me on!!
With the Mets beating the Marlins last night, the Mets have just the third 8-1 start in their 56 year history. Judging from the other two times the Mets did this, this team could very well be flirting with 100 wins this year.
The last time the Mets started a season 8-1 was 2006 when the Mets won 97 games. That team annihilated the National League en route to a disappointing end to the season as Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran.
The other time the Mets started the season 8-1 was in 1985 when the Mets won 98 games. Much like the 2006 season, that Mets team saw their chances of winning a World Series get vanquished by the Cardinals. That year, the season effectively ended as Gary Carter flew out to right against Jeff Lahti.
Unlike 2006, this was not in the NLCS. In case you are curious, this didn’t happen in the NLDS either. It couldn’t have because the 98 win Mets team did not make the postseason. Baffling, right?
Nowadays, it’s relatively unheard of 90+ win teams missing the postseason. Since the introduction of the second Wild Card, no 90 win team has ever missed the postseason. Since the introduction of the Wild Card, the only 95+ team to miss the postseason was the 1999 Reds, and they missed the postseason because Al Leiter pitched a complete game two hit shutout in the play-in game.
Other than that, if you win 90 games, you are a sure bet to make it to the posteason. Unfortunately, the Wild Card was not present during the greatest stretch in Mets history.
From 1984 to 1990, the Mets AVERAGED 95 wins, and they won 100 games twice. In each of those seasons, they finished second or better in their division. However, under the old two divisional format, there were no Wild Cards. As a result, the Mets only went to the postseason in the two years they won 100 games – 1986 and 1988.
If the rules were re-calibrated and the current divisional format, the 1980s Mets very well could have been a dynasty; the dynasty everyone thought they would be in 1986. Part of the reason why is that team would have been in the postseason every year:
|1984||90||2nd NL East||NL East Champs|
|1985||98||2nd NL East||NL East Champs|
|1986||108||Won World Series||Won World Series|
|1987||92||2nd NL East||NL East Champs|
|1988||100||Lost NLCS||Lost NLCS|
|1989||87||2nd NL East||NL East Champs|
|1990||91||2nd NL East||NL East Champs|
With three divisions and two Wild Card, those 80s Mets would have had a run similar to those 90s Braves. Instead, they missed the postseason in five of those seven seasons.
Sure, we probably don’t see Keith Hernandez telling Jesse Orosco to not throw another fastball, and we don’t see Mookie Wilson hit a grounder between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In lieu of this, there would have been other incredible moments, and who knows? Maybe the Mets win multiple World Series with the Darryl Strawberry–Dwight Gooden core.
We’ll never know because they never got that chance. However, these Mets, who have made the postseason two out of the last three years, may get their chance. They’re going to need to take advantage of whatever challenge comes their wasy.
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!
If you ask a New York Giants fan about the postseason, they will reminisce about Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. You will hear about the Helmet Catch and Eli hitting Manningham down the sideline for 38 yards. You know what you don’t hear about? Fassell having the Giants ill prepared for Super Bowl XXXV or Trey Junkin.
The reason is simple when you win, you remember it forever. However, when you lose, and you lose and lose, that memory festers and worsens year to year.
For years and even until this day, you will occasionally hear Howie Rose bemoan Yogi Berra‘s decision to go with Tom Seaver on short rest over George Stone in Game 6 of the 1973 World Series. One of the reasons that memory lingers is the Mets where irrelevant from 1974 until 1984.
After 1986, Mets fans were in their glory, and to this day many fans who got to live through 1986 talk about it as fondly today as they probably did when they got to work on October 28, 1986.
Behind them is a group of Mets fans who never really got to live through the 1986 World Series. As a result, they just know Madoff Scandals and hauting postseason failures:
- Davey Johnson botched that series including leaving in Dwight Gooden too long in Game Four. Doc would allow a game tying home run in the top of the ninth to Mike Scioscia.
- It was the last hurrah for Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez who struggled over the final few games of the series, and respectively faced poor and injury plagued 1989 seasons before finding new homes in 1989.
- First and foremost, the one thing that should stick out was how those Braves teams just tortured the Mets, and the Mets could never get past them.
- Both John Franco and Armando Benitez blew leads in Game 6 preventing the Mets from sending the series to a seventh game and letting the Mets be the team to do what the Red Sox did to the Yankees five years later.
- Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded to end the series.
2000 World Series
- Timo Perez should have run out that fly ball off the bat of Todd Zeile
- Roger Clemens should have been ejected for throwing a bat at Mike Piazza
- Piazza’s ball goes out if it was just a few degrees warmer
- Guillermo Mota shook off Paul Lo Duca
- Billy Wagner cannot give up a home run to So Taguchi
- Yadier Molina
- Cliff Floyd just missed his pitch, the Jose Reyes liner didn’t fall, and Carlos Beltran struck out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball
- The subsequent two seasons followed with epic collapses with Tom Glavine not being devastated and an inept Jerry Manuel going to Scott Schoeneweis who gave up the homer that closed Shea for good.
2015 World Series
- Terry Collins making terrible decision after terrible decision.
- Yoenis Cespedes a no-show from the very first defensive play of the World Series.
- Jeurys Familia blowing three saves even if they weren’t all his fault.
- Daniel Murphy overrunning a ball.
- Lucas Duda‘s throw home.
- Matt Harvey for too long in Game 5.
2016 Wild Card Game
- Connor Gillaspie
The list for the aforementioned series really goes on and on, but those were just some of the highlights. After tonight’s game, that is what Astros and Dodgers fans will be doing. They’ll be asking if Dave Roberts was too aggressive with his pitching changes while A.J. Hinch was not aggressive enough. Why didn’t Chris Taylor try to score, or why could Josh Reddick just put the ball in play. Really, the list goes on and on.
For one fan base, they will focus on the things that went wrong. Considering the Dodgers haven’t won in 29 years and the Astros have never won, the pain of this loss is going to hurt all the more. For the fanbase that gets to win this one, they will have memories to cherish for a lifetime, and they will never again be bothered by the what ifs that could have plagued their team in this epic World Series.
When I was talking with my Dad about the postseason, we were prattling off how most of the teams in the postseason haven’t won in quite some time:
- Astros – Never
- Nationals – Never
- Rockies – Never
- Indians – 1948
- Dodgers – 1988
- Twins – 1991
- Diamondbacks – 2001
- Yankees – 2009
- Red Sox – 2013
- Cubs – 2016
Just go back over that list again.
For nearly a century, the dream World Series matchup was Red Sox-Cubs. 1912 versus 1908. The Curse of the Bambino versus the Billy Goat Curse.
Then there was all of the Hall of Famers on both sides who never won a World Series. For the Cubs, you had absolute legends like Ernie Banks and Ferguson Jenkins. The Red Sox had Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.
Throw in Fenway and Wrigley with the Green Monster and the ivy, this was the World Series to end all World Series because these were two teams pathologically incapable of winning World Series.
We know it all changed for the Red Sox with a Dave Roberts stolen base propelling the Red Sox to overcome an 0-3 ALCS deficit. It would be a Kris Bryant homer to start the game winning rally in Game five of the World Series. Before each of those moments, these were two franchises who seemed incapable of winning a World Series. There was also a time the Mets would take full advantage.
Now, the Mets are behind both the Red Sox and the Cubs. Now, it looks like the Mets who are the team that can’t win a World Series.
In 1988, Mike Scioscia hit a grand slam against Dwight Gooden. In 1999, Kenny Rogers walked Andruw Jones with the bases loaded. In 2000, Timo Perez didn’t run out a Todd Zeile fly ball that landed on top of the wall. In 2006, So Taguchi homered off of Guillermo Mota, and yes, Carlos Beltran struck out looking against Adam Wainwright. In 2015, Jeurys Familia blew three saves with the help of Daniel Murphy overrunning a grounder and a way offline Lucas Duda throw. Last year, it was Conor Gillaspie who hit a three run homer in the Wild Card Game.
In reality, the Mets aren’t cursed even with all that ensued after the Madoff scandal. However, with each passing year, you can forgive fans for starting to feel this way. It’s been 31 years since the Mets last won a World Series. In those 31 years, the Mets have reached the postseason six times, and they were eliminated in excruciating fashion each time.
Again, the Mets are not cursed. Still, it is depressing to now live in a world where the Red Sox and the Cubs have won a World Series more recently than the Mets.
Right now, the Mets are just a bad baseball team. When you are a fan of a bad baseball team, it is sometimes difficult to find seasons to watch. Thankfully, there still remain reasons to watch the Mets:
Jacob deGrom – This year, deGrom has returned to pitching like an ace. No, he may not be the guy he was in 2015, but he’s still a great pitcher. You know with him on the mound the Mets have a chance to win the game. With his ability, anything is possible.
Michael Conforto – We have been watching Conforto have one of the best, if not the best, season a young Mets player has ever had. He will soon be the youngest Mets player to ever hit 30 homers. He’s showing how special he is taking on more leadership responsibilities in the clubhouse.
Chris Flexen – Very quickly, Flexen has gone from over-matched to holding his own. He’s just 23 and had just seven Double-A starts under his belt. Just holding his own at this point is remarkable. Sooner or later, he may just prove he belongs at this level.
Juan Lagares – One thing that really stood out in the Subway Series was this man can still play Gold Glove defense. In fact, he might be the best outfielder in baseball with his league leading 34.0 UZR/150. Metrics aside, it’s a joy to watch him play center field defense, and you never know when he is going to make his next great play.
Amed Rosario & Dominic Smith – They have essentially been presented as this generations David Wright and Jose Reyes or Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. If they’re at those levels, the Mets will quickly turn things around. If they are truly this good, we won’t want to miss a minute of them playing. To that end, we have already seen great defense from them, and they’ve already homered in the same game.
With that, there are five very good reasons to continue watching this team. Other than that, we can watch because we’re Mets fans, and we love our team. I know I watched the Jeff Torborg, Art Howe, or Jerry Manuel Mets teams, I can certainly watch this team.