While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.
That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired. More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired. With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.
Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team. Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.
Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager. He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games. The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets. Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.
The winning happened immediately. Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record. This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division. Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.
The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated. They were that close to winning the division. Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up. Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.
When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.
Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities. He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions. Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.
This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.
He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons. He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.
Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed. He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.
Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets. Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.
His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame. With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.
If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets. If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside. Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.
Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization. Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.
The Mets Fan
My name is Tim Ryder. I’m a writer for MMO, a contributor at Call to the Pen, and have been published at Hardball Times/Fangraphs, as well as Good Fundies. I formerly wrote for Friars on Base, a San Diego Padres site.
Personally, I’m 34. I was born October 12 at Booth Memorial in Flushing, which probably sealed my fate. I’m married to a wonderful woman named Heather and I have two lovely daughters, Kayla, 13, and Lily, 8.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I became a Mets fan at birth for the most part. Being born in 1983, I don’t remember ’86 and only vaguely recall ’88. My first real Mets memory is that 1989 team with the championship core still intact. I do remember hysterically sobbing on my kitchen floor after finding out Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were released in November of that year. A precursor for my relationship with this team, I guess.
Favorite Mets Player
Excellent question. My favorite Met of all-time is probably David Wright. Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana are right up there, as are Mike Piazza, John Franco, geez, I could literally go on forever. Next question.
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Johan’s no-hitter. I sat with my dad at the kitchen table and watched that game from first pitch to last. My dad passed away in 2015, so it’s definitely emerged as “the one” for me. And no, I don’t care that Carlos Beltran‘s foul ball was actually fair. Plus, even with replay, it still would have been foul (can’t review a ball that bounces in front of the base ump).
Message to Mets Fans
Keep voicing your displeasure with the way this organization is run. Send tweets. Send letters (126 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY).
Keep putting pressure on the Wilpons to run this team properly. They’ve become tone-deaf to our passion, as well as our desperation. We’ve been loyal through the best and, mostly, the worst of times and we deserve the same respect in return.
For the second straight year, Seth Lugo has the best Player’s Weekend jersey with “Quaterrican.” Seeing that jersey as well as some others we will see over the course of this weekend coupled with the color players from Mets past, it does not you wonder which jerseys Mets players from years past would have selected. On that front, the Mets bloggers offer some of the jerseys we would have like to have seen.
Tom Seaver. “THE FRANCHISE.”
Second place is Gary Carter. “KID.”
Franklin Gutierrez, who was a Met for ten minutes, was nicknamed “Death to Flying Things”. I’m sorry but the only two things that could top that would have been Richie Hebner using a middle finger emoji, or anything Willie Montanez would have come up with.
Also, did you know that George Foster‘s nickname was “Yahtzee”? I would buy that.
I like seeing the nicknames we don’t learn about as matter of course, the ones that are personal or known more in the clubhouse than in the public. So ideally, Tom Seaver would have been SPANKY, Willie Mays BUCK and Howard Johnson SHEIKH.
Also, though it would have been hard to resist CHOO-CHOO for Clarence Coleman, I’d like to believe the catcher of few words from the 1962 Mets would have gone with BUB. And given that it was 1962, I could only hope everything was properly spelled.
Looking back, a Darryl Strawberry “Straw” jersey would have been hilarious for the noted coke problems of that team. It would have been funny to see Paul Lo Duca wear a “Captain Red Ass” jersey. Funny, but not likely to happen.
Ultimately, the jersey I would have liked to have seen could have been done this year. After all, what would have been better than seeing Jacob deGrom opting to chose “Sidd Finch” for his jersey?
The answer to the rhetorical question is reading the blogs from the writers who are so generous in contributing their time. Certainly,t hey all have stories to tell about these and many more players. In fact, they may have some nicknames all of their own, but to find that out, you will have to visit those sites.
The Mets Fan
I’m Logan Marshall-Green.
How I Became a Mets Fan
Favorite Mets Player
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Message to Mets Fans
Does anyone want a signed, ‘87 throwback Kirk Nieuwenhuis Jersey?
Also, Go see UPGRADE. June 1st. (Mets play the Cubs that night, we all know it’s an L).
The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers. From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.
With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31. Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation. Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.
What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap. Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement. Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.
In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:
No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.
I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.
Michael Baron (MLB)
I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.
As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.
Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)
Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.
The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal. It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.
The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.
Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.
When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.
One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable. I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.
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.
During the course of the 2018 season, my hope is to feature a new Mets fan each and every week by having them answer five quick questions about their particular fandom. For me, this is part of a natural outgrowth of the site because part of my intention was to discuss my experiences as a father raising my sons to be Mets fans.
As we know being a fan is a unique experience for everyone, and I’m sure my sons will have a much more unique experience than I have had as a fan. The hope is to have a fun mix of fans – celebrity, media, and average fans like you and me.
So to that end, I will start off the new feature answering the same five questions butchers, bakers, and the people on the streets will be answering.
The Mets Fan:
For my readers, I am the self dubbed Mets Daddy. To my sons, I am just daddy. To my detractors, I am someone that just needs to go away.
Alongside my work here, you can also find my work on Metsmerized Online, Mets Minors, and Gotham Baseball. With a newborn in the house and a four year old, there’s not much opportunity for me to sleep, so it’s more entertaining to write about the Mets than to watch the same terrible late night TV night in and night out.
How You Became a Mets Fan:
My father grew up in a household where my grandfather was a New York Giants fan, his younger brother was a New York Yankees fan, and he was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. Given that environment, you could understand why he would look to ensure his children grew up Mets fans.
As a little kid, my dad saw an opportunity with my love of strawberries. He told me about how the Mets had this great player coming to the team named Darryl Strawberry. When Strawberry was called up to the Mets, he took me to my first ever Mets game to see him play. Seeing my first ever baseball game at Shea Stadium helped make me the diehard fan I am today.
Favorite Mets Player:
When I think of my favorite Mets player, there are a few names I consider. As noted above, Strawberry is on the list. Gary Carter was always a favorite of mine, and growing up, I wanted to become a catcher because of him. In more recent vintage, Daniel Murphy was a person favorite, and how could he not with the 2015 postseason he had. Like any other Mets fan, I love David Wright.
However, my guy will always be Mike Piazza. When he came to the Mets, this went from a nice little team to a World Series contender. I still remember all of the homers including the one after 9/11, which for my money is the biggest home run ever hit. More than that, Piazza is a guy who wanted to big stage, and when Cooperstown came calling, he chose to be a Met partially due to us fans.
Favorite Moment In Mets History:
I’ve been exceedingly lucky as a fan. I was there for the Todd Pratt homer clinching the 1999 NLDS. I was in the park the night of Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single. There was also the Bobby Jones one-hitter. My first real memory as a fan was watching Mookie Wilson‘s little roller up the first base line go through Bill Buckner‘s legs.
However, despite all those classic moments, the one I will always treasure most was going to Game 3 of the 2015 World Series with my dad and brother. It also helped that Noah Syndergaardstood 60’6″ away, Wright hit the first World Series homer in Citi Field history, and Curtis Granderson hit a homer to give the Mets the lead for good that game. The fans even got a chance to sing along to Piano Man with Billy Joel.
Going to a Mets World Series game with my dad and brother had long been a dream of mine. Seeing them win a World Series game and feeling that euphoria leaving Citi Field that night will be next to impossible to top.
Message to Mets Fans:
Some of the best Mets seasons are never the ones you expect. The 1969 team was never supposed to win. The 1999 Mets were put together on a wing and a prayer. Back in 2006, it was hard to believe anyone would ever unseat the Braves as the NL East Champions in the Wild Card Era. Heading into the 2015 season, Bryce Harper was asking where his World Series ring was after the Nationals signed Max Scherzer. As Mets fans, we had Michael Cuddyer.
Point is, even if you are extremely frustrated by the Wilpons and how they choose to operate this team, just remember, when you least expect it, that old Mets Magic is right around the corner. After all, Ya Gotta Believe!
Each and every offseason, I have seen the Mets part with players who are easy to root for. In my life, I have seen the Mets part ways with Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Mike Piazza, Edgardo Alfonzo, Daniel Murphy, and many more. Having seen my some of my all-time favorite players depart has never made it easy to see the team depart with some of the players I have come to respect and root for during their time in a Mets uniform – no matter how long it lasted.
Recently, the Mets parted with two relievers, each of whom played less than two full seasons in a Mets uniform. Presumably, the moves were necessary as the Mets needed to make room on the 40 man roster for the newly re-signed Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes. Still, seeing those two relievers, you question if the Mets made the right decision.
The first reliever the Mets designated for assignment was Chasen Bradford.
In retrospect, it is interesting the Mets were even in a position to DFA Bradford. For a number of years, he had been Rule 5 eligible with the rest of MLB not giving him much of a look. The Mets didnt’ either, and if not for the series of injuries that beset the Mets this past season, it’s possible Bradford would have departed the team as a minor league free agent without getting so much as a chance.
Well, Bradford got his chance, and he proved he’s a MLB caliber pitcher. In 28 appearances, he was 2-0 with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.277 WHIP. After a somewhat tough July, he went on a 12 appearance stretch where he allowed just one run in 16.2 innings.
In fact, from August until the end of the season, he had a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 innings over 23 appearances. During that stretch, he had amassed 20 scoreless appearances, and he had nine appearances over an inning in length. In sum, Bradford showed he could go out there and get Major League batters out no matter the situation.
There other reliever designated for assignment was Josh Smoker.
Smoker’s story is one of perseverance. After being the Nationals 2007 first round draft pick, he would suffer a torn rotator cuff and labrum. This would cause the Nationals to release him thereby putting his professional baseball career in jeopardy.
A healthy Smoker proved himself in the Frontier League leading to his getting signed by the Mets. Two years later, Smoker found himself part of a bullpen that helped pitch the Mets to the postseason. Given his talent and perseverance, it was not surprise Smoker would be a part of the 2017 Opening Day bullpen.
What was a surprise was how Terry Collins used him. Really, his manager showed a willful disregard for a pitcher with a history of shoulder issues. It was almost as if Collins learned nothing from his handling of Johan Santana and Jim Henderson. Eventually, Smoker had another shoulder injury. Thankfully, it was not as serious as it would not require seasons ending surgery.
Once again, Smoker would have to re-prove himself, and re-prove himself he did. In the second half, Smoker was 0- 0 with a 2.63 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 in 22 appearances. Perhaps of more importance, Smoker found himself a capable pitcher against left-handed batters making him an even greater weapon in the bullpen.
However, like Bradford, Smoker will be a weapon in someone else’s bullpen.
After being designated for assignment, Bradford signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. To risk not losing him on waivers, Smoker was traded to the Pirates for minor league left-handed reliever Daniel Zamora. With that, the Mets have ridded themselves of two relievers who not only provided themselves capable of getting out Major League batters, but also two relievers who showed perseverance in getting themselves to this point. That’s no small thing to lose.
As we learned during Player’s Weekend, Bradford’s nickname is Black Bear, and Smoker’s nickname is Brown Bear. While it may seem a bit much, considering their nicknames, it’s fair to say it’s difficult to bear knowing neither pitcher will be a part of the Mets next season.
Fortunately for both of them, they are now with new organizations who likely value them all the more. They deserve that, and all Mets fans should wish them the best of luck.
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!
Now that Carlos Beltran has officially retired, the Hall of Fame discussions can now begin. In the case of Beltran, one of the Top 10 centerfielders of all-time and the best Puerto Rican baseball player not named Roberto Clemente, the discussion for him is not whether he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Rather, the discussion is what cap he will wear when he gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.
As we learned from Gary Carter, Beltran is not going to be able to just pick whatever hat he wants. This means no Astros, despite him winning the World Series there, and no Cardinals, where he cemented his place in Cooperstown. Unless the Hall of Fame invokes the Reggie Jackson, you can go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee regardless of tenure with them, Beltran is going to have three choices: (1) Royals; (2) Mets; or (3) Blank.
Under normal circumstances, the case for the Mets should be quite easy with him playing more games in a Mets uniform than with any other team. Beltran had his best years in Queens posting 31.3 of his 69.8 career WAR with the team. He won all of his Gold Gloves with the Mets, and five of his nine All Star appearances came as a member of the Mets. Some of his greatest highlights (and lowlights) came with the Mets. In many ways, his entire career is defined by what he did with the Mets.
With this being the Mets, this isn’t normal circumstances. There are indications this was and continues to be a very strained relationship.
The biggest indication of this was the fight over Beltran’s 2010 knee surgery. It created a he said – she said situation where Boras insisted the Mets were informed, and the Mets acted as if they were blindsided. For younger fans, the perfect analogy to this was the hysteria surrounding Matt Harvey and his innings limits during the 2015 season.
Beltran had knee problems for two seasons, and when push came to shove, he had the surgery upon the recommendation of a world class knee surgeon. The Mets position was Beltran needed to clear medical decisions through them. As the New York Post reported, “the Mets are claiming this was done without clearance and that the Mets are threatening to take some form of action.”
Action never came, but the bad feelings persisted. Much of that can be directly attributed to Fred Wilpon’s interview with the New Yorker:
At one point, I mentioned to Wilpon the theory that the Mets might be cursed. He gave a sort of half laugh, and said, “You mean”—and then pantomimed a checked swing of the bat.
When Carlos Beltran came up, I mentioned his prodigious post-season with the Astros in 2004, when he hit eight home runs, just before he went to the Mets as a free agent. Wilpon laughed, not happily. “We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series,” he said, referring to himself. In the course of playing out his seven-year, $119-million contract with the Mets, Beltran, too, has been hobbled by injuries. “He’s sixty-five to seventy per cent of what he was.”
Wilpon reportedly apologized, and Beltran being the man he was accepted said apology.
After that, the Mets did give him the perfunctory video montage his first game back at Citi Field. However, that was about it from the team.
Immediately after being traded from the Mets, Beltran’s number 15 was immediately assigned to Val Pascucci, and it has been assigned to Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, and Matt Reynolds. This was not done with Mike Piazza‘s 31 or Tom Seaver‘s 41. In sum, the Mets not taking the number out of circulation indicates the team had no intentions of retiring the number. That’s odd considering Beltran’s Hall of Fame resume and tenure with the Mets.
It’s also odd how long it took the Mets to acknowledge Beltran’s retirement and to provide well wishes to one of the best players in their history:
Beltran Announcement: 11:32
Congratulatory responses as follows
Yankees – 11:50
Royals – 12:13
Astros – 12:17
Rangers – 12:25
Cardinals – 1:00
Mets – 3:08
— Mets Daddy (@MetsDaddy2013) November 14, 2017
In that time frame, the Mets wished Hasdrubal Cabrera a Happy Birthday, corrected the tweet to say Asdrubal Cabrera, and tweeted the April 15 glove promotion. The silence on Beltran was almost deafening.
It seems to be symbolic on a frost between both sides as evidenced in Beltran’s Players’ Tribune piece. Beltran talked about getting called up and breaking into the majors with the Royals. He waxed poetic about tips he received from Reggie Jackson during his time with the Yankees. He spoke about the championship run with the Astros. As for the Mets, he mentioned getting traded in 2011. Overall, there wasn’t any quip about something positive that happened to him during his time in Flushing.
There could be many reasons for that, but given the history between the two sides, it doesn’t seem accidental.
Overall, there seems to be some chasm between the Mets and Beltran. It’s a real shame too because Beltran’s Hall of Fame case was built during his time with the Mets. For the Mets, they have not had many players as great as Beltran in their history. Beltran is definitively their best center fielder, and quite possibly, the best outfielder in their history.
Five years from now, when Beltran is inducted into the Hall of Fame, he should be talking about wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, and the Mets should be planning a number retirement ceremony. Based upon what we’ve seen over the past few years, that doesn’t seem as much of a certainty as it should.
The good news is that there’s still time for the Mets to sell Beltran on wearing a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque. That starts with the easiest decision imaginable with the team inducting him into their own Hall of Fame. It would also behoove them to take 15 out of circulation. This is just a step, but an important one – one the Mets need to do if they want to add a third Hall of Famer to the legacy of the New York Mets organization.