Howard Johnson

Meet The Mets Fan: ESPN Radio’s Matt Markus

The Mets Fan

My name is Matt Markus and I am a sports radio talk show host in the Lehigh Valley, PA. Phillies country.

How You Became a Mets Fan

Growing up in the 80s my dad was/is a Mets fan and I latched on really easily.

Favorite Mets Player

HoJo was my favorite player growing up, but I’d have to go with David Wright. I loved watching him grow as a player and the leadership he has shown. His struggles have only endeared himself to us fans ever more.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

The Mets went to the Series while I was in college. Being at Seton Hall, I was so close to the action. Although in defeat that run is up there for me, as well as 2015. The Johan Santana no-no has to be tops though right?

Message to Mets Fans

I still believe Mickey Callaway can be the guy to take this team to new heights. There have been more than enough growing pains but at the end of the day the guys need to produce. The hitters need to hit, the fielders need to field, and the closer needs to close. If that starts to happen. this team can be fine. The hole is too big for this year, but if they hold on to their Aces and jettison some of the dead weight while calling up some young guys, it can be fun again.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Next Mets Hall of Famer

In what is a yearly tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a fan vote over which player should be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of FameFor a number of reasons, the Mets do not hold such a vote for their fanbase, but in vein of what the Cardinals are doing, the Mets Bloggers tackle the issue of who should be the next Mets great inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame:

Joe Maracic(Loud Egg)

What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.

The next player would have to be David Wright, I’m guessing.

Maybe Beltran

Michael Baron (MLB)

I do agree on the Nelson Doubleday nomination. He was a transformative owner for this franchise and single-handedly changed the direction, brand, and reputation of the club by forcing the Piazza trade. But it’s hard to see it happening while the Wilpons own the team.

Having said that, the next logical candidate to me is David Wright. He is among a true handful of players who have served as the identity for the on-field product. Up until age 30, he was among the top third baseman in baseball history (which some would be shocked to learn), and he has served through thick and thin as the voice of this franchise, earning the respect of both current and former teammates in the process.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Reflexively I thought “Edgardo Alfonzo.” Then I checked to see if Ed Kranepool and Rusty Staub were already in the Mets Hall of Fame. They are. So I’ll stick with Edgardo Alfonzo. More hits and RBIs than any other Met in a postseason, and that doesn’t technically include his “Game 163” heroics. Excellent everyday third baseman in 1997 and 1998. Moved to second base in 1999 to accommodate Robin Ventura, forming The Best Infield Ever. Mentioned *by name* in Mike Piazza‘s Hall of Fame speech. Didn’t appear to ruin any Mets prospects managing the Brooklyn Cyclones last season. Forever underrated by everyone unlucky enough to not be in a knowledgeable Mets fan’s orbit.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Nelson Doubleday belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame, but I seriously doubt the Wilpons would ever be s selfless to do the right thing here.

The real tragedy isn’t that Nelson Doubleday isn’t the majority owner of the Mets anymore. He might have sold the team anyway, as his children did not wish to be involved with the franchise. Instead, it is the misconception that the 1980-1986 period of Mets history wasn’t his legacy. Whether its internal revisionist history mandated by current ownership or a myth enabled by certain go-along, get-along journalists, that section of Mets history should be known as “The Doubleday Era.” It was Nelson Doubleday who came to the rescue when Shea Stadium became a ghost town. He was the man who saved the Mets.

Doubleday should have been inducted a long time ago…

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I’m in full agreement here with Doubleday.

David Wright is the obvious choice, and there aren’t a lot of dark horses. But the one I’ll give you is Edgardo Alfonzo. Universally loved, one of the best players on a World Series participant, and also worked for the Mets post retirement.

On FAFIF, I recently wrote about Edgardo Alfonzo’s induction being overdue, also mentioning Howard Johnson and Bobby Valentine as worthy, so let’s get them each in.

Amazing to me that the Mets have never so honored a second baseman. In addition to Fonzie, Ron Hunt, Felix Millan and Wally Backman all merit serious consideration. If we’re defense-minded, Doug Flynn, too.

In general, the Mets HOF is an underutilized asset. There’s no good reason not to make annual selections. I understand being somewhat stingy with retired numbers. This can and should be bigger, a way to warmly embrace those who made the Mets the Mets in the best sense.

At the risk of inciting Jerry Blevins‘s ire, I’ll close with what Terrence Mann had to say to Ray Kinsella: The Mets Hall of Fame reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Doubleday is a good one but I’m going – perhaps unsurprisingly – with David Wright.

It’s not all that often that fans of any team, let alone this one, get to see the best position player in franchise history. Mets fans, in fact, until recently didn’t really have a best position player in franchise history. We had lots of guys — Piazza, Beltran, Mookie, Keith, Carter, HoJo, Buddy, Millan, Kranepool, etc — who were franchise icons, but either not good enough to fit the description, or not here for long enough. But we never had our Ted Williams, our George Brett, our Craig Biggio — whichever comparison you use, up until very recently, we didn’t have one. When David Wright came up, it was evident pretty early on that he was going to be an all-time Mets great, provided he stayed long enough. Sure enough, as high as expectations were, I’d say he was better, for most of his career through 2013, than anyone could reasonably have hoped. People may not remember just how good David Wright was: in the ten years from 2004 to 2013, he batted .301/.382/.506, and averaged 22 home runs a year. The comparison doesn’t hold up, because George Brett had an absurdly productive second half of his career, but through his first ten years, Brett only hit .316/.370/.503, with far fewer home runs. Now, I KNOW that Wright’s career was completely derailed, while Brett went on to play ten more productive seasons — but George Brett is a top-5 all time third baseman, and matching up with him for ten years of a career is no easy task. And that’s not even getting into the intangibles, which to me, make it a no-brainer. David Wright is our captain, a leader in the locker room, and by all accounts, just about the nicest guy in baseball. He’s continued to work to come back from a series of injuries that almost certainly would have led a lesser player to hang ‘em up by now. Some people say it’s enough, that he should retire — but to a kid growing up with epilepsy, who too often got tired of working day after day for an uncertain reward sometime in the future, watching David Wright come back from injury, each time he did, was just incredible. David Wright is the greatest position player in Mets history, and maybe the greatest guy as well. The day he retires, his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame should go up, and — this isn’t the question, but I can’t resist — his number should join 31 and 41. I sometimes run into people opposed to this, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Gods do not answer letters, and David Wright’s number should never again be issued. Sometimes, in baseball, there are things you don’t even have to think about — you just know.

Mets Daddy

Previously, I have written pieces advocating for Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine, and Gary Cohen to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Going back through them, one of the things that stood out to me about calling for Cohen’s induction was his being up for the Ford C. Frick Award.  Essentially, the Mets were going to have the situation where Cohen was in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the Mets Hall of Fame.  That would certainly have been awkward.

To that end, I believe Carlos Beltran is the most pressing person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  With his Hall of Fame career coming to an end, the question is not whether he will go into the Hall of Fame, but what cap he will be wearing when he is inducted.  Looking over his career, that is between the Royals, Mets, and a blank cap.

Given the few Hall of Famers in this team’s history, it would behoove the Mets to attempt to convince Beltran to go into the Hall of Fame wearing the interlocking NY.  To do that, the team would have to heal some old wounds and rebuild some bridges.  A Carlos Beltran Day at Citi Field with his Hall of Fame induction would go a long way to accomplish that.

On a personal note, I never would have contemplated Nelson Doubleday, and that is why I am happy we are doing this Roundtable.  As you can tell, there is great Mets content out there and some original thought.  With that in mind, I encourage you to visit their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

Meet The Mets Fan: WOR’s Pete McCarthy

The Mets Fan

Pete McCarthy – Host of the Sports Zone and Mets On-Deck on 710 AM WOR.

How You Became a Mets Fan

Parents are huge Mets fans, so I was born into it. Don’t remember a specific moment or reason why I stuck with it. They weren’t very good in my formative years but they were always my team!

Favorite Mets Player

Mike Piazza would be the easy choice looking back but I had many “favorite Mets” over the years. David Cone, Howard Johnson, Todd Hundley all held that title at some point. Jason Isringhausen was my guy, though! Looked like a stud at the end of ’95 so I bought all of his rookie cards and spent way too much allowance having his name printed on the back of my Mets jersey. Had to pay by the letter! And they only had yellow letters. UniWatch would not approve.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Todd Pratt‘s home run in the ’99 NLDS. Was starved for playoff baseball after growing up with the lousy 90’s Mets and you couldn’t have a more climactic end to the series. Still can’t watch a replay without sweating Steve Finley suddenly pulling the ball out of his glove.

Message to Mets Fans

It’s been amazing talking about the Mets every night on the radio over the last four seasons with you. Let’s hope for some more Todd Pratt moments in the near future. LGM!

Mets Perform Better With Republican Presidents

There are many factors to consider when voting for a candidate today.  At this point, they have all be regurgitated and discussed at length, and hopefully, you have made your decision based upon sound criteria.  However, if you are looking for a reason to change your mind or reason to have your mind made up for you, or you really want to base this important decision on how the Mets have fared with a Republican or a Democrat in office, you are in luck.  Here is how the Mets have performed under each President in their 54 year history:

President Seasons Record Win %
John F. Kennedy 1962 – 1963 91 – 231 0.283
Lyndon B. Johnson 1964 – 1968 303 – 506 0.375
Richard M Nixon 1969 – 1974* 478 – 433 0.525
Gerald R. Ford 1974* – 1976 263 – 277 0.487
Jimmy Carter 1977 – 1980 260 – 388 0.401
Ronald Reagan 1981 – 1988 662 – 573 0.536
George H.W. Bush 1989 – 1992 386 – 423 0.477
William Jefferson Clinton 1993 – 2000 562 – 506 0.526
George W. Bush 2001 – 2008 651 – 643 0.503
Barack Obama 2009 – 2016 630-666 0.486

* Nixon resigned from office August 9, 1974

Here are the cumulative results:

Party Record Win%
Democrat 1,846 – 2,297 0.446
Republican 2,440 – 2,349 0.510

Here are some interesting Mets postseason facts when there was a Democrat or Republican in the White House.

Democrat Postseason Facts

  • The two times the Mets have been to back-to-back postseasons was when there was a Democrat in the White House (1999 & 2000 – Clinton; 2015 & 2016 – Obama)
  • The Mets have only had an NLCS MVP when there was a Democrat in the White House (Mike Hampton – 2000; Daniel Murphy – 2015)
  • The Mets have only won the division once (2015) with a Democrat in office.  The other three postseason appearances were as the Wild Card.
  • The Mets have appeared in four total postseasons and two World Series.  The Mets are 21-17 in postseason games with the following records per round:
    Wild Card Game 0 – 1
    NLDS 9 – 4
    NLCS 10 – 4
    World Series 2 – 8

Republican Postseason Facts

  • The Mets have won their only two World Series with a Republican in office (1969 – Nixon; 1986 – Reagan)
  • In all five of their appearances in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets were the National Leauge East champions.
  • In three of the five appearances, the Mets won 100+ games with the high water mark coming in 1986 with 108 wins
  • In four of the five seasons the Mets appeared in the postseason with a Republican in office, the Mets had the best record in the National League (1973 is the exception).  In two of those seasons (1986 & 2006), the Mets had the best record in baseball.
  • In total, the Mets have appeared in five postseason and three World Series.  The Mets are 30-20 in those postseason games with the following records per round:
    NLDS 3 – 0
    NLCS 16 – 12
    World Series 11 – 8

If you wish to mainly focus on player performance over how the team has fared during each administration, Mets players have received more awards during Republican leadership:

Cy Young Award

Rookie of the Year

Rolaids Relief Man

Sports Illustrated Man of the Year

  • Republican 1 (Seaver 1969)
  • Democrat 0

Gold Gloves

Silver Sluggers

Roberto Clemente Award

From the Front Office side, Republicans have a 2-1 edge in executive of the year with Johnny Murphy winning in 1969, Frank Cashen winning in 1986, and Sandy Alderson winning in 2015.  Baseball America named the Mets the top organization in baseball once in a Republican (1984) and once in a Democratic (1995) term.

As a general rule of thumb, the Mets and their players have performed better with a Republican in office.  As you enter the voting booths today, take that as you will.  Hopefully, you have more sound criteria for choosing your candidate.

That’s How You Finish Out the Regular Season at Home

Growing up, my family did not always go to Opening Day.  It was sometimes difficult for my Dad to get off of work, and even if he could, we had my mother insisting that my brother and I could not miss a day of school just to go to a Mets game.  What eventually happened is that my father, brother, and I usually found ourselves going to the last game of the season, which usually falls on a Sunday.

When you go to Opening Day, there is always hope.  Even when your team stinks, you can find some reason for hope. I remember thinking back in 1993 that the 1992 Mets season was just a fluke.  Bobby Bonilla was certainly going to be better.  Howard Johnson was back in the infield where he belonged.  This could be the year Todd Hundley and Jeff Kent break out.  The team still had Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, and Bret Saberhagen with John Franco in the bullpen.  It turns out the 1993 team was even worse than the 1992 team.

The last game of the season always has an interesting feel to it.  When we went to the final game of the season, it was more of a farewell to an awful season.  Being ever the optimist, we still had hope for a bright future with Pete Schourek throwing eight brillant innings to cap off a Mets six game winning streak.  It seemed like 1994 was going to be a big year in baseball.  It was, but that’s a whole other story.

There was the devastating 2007 finale.  Heading into that game, most Mets fans believed that despite the epic collapse, the Mets were going to take care of the Marlins.  They just snapped a five game losing streak behind a brilliant John Maine performance and the offense coming alive to score 13 runs.  Even better, the Phillies seemed to be feeling the pressure a bit with them getting shut down by Matt Chico and a terrible Marlins team.  The sense was if the Mets won this game, the Phillies would feel the pressure and lose their game.  Even if the Phillies won their game, the Mets would beat the Phillies and return to the postseason like everyone expected.

After Tom Glavine laid an egg, which included out and out throwing a ball into left field trying to get Cody Ross, who was going to third on the original throw to home.  At 5-0, the Mets were still in the game.  David Wright was having a torrid September.  Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran were big game players.  I don’t think Moises Alou made an out that entire month.  With that in mind, I turned to my father, and I said to him, “If the Mets allow one more run, the game is over . . . .”  As the words left my mouth, Jorge Soler allowed a two run double to Dan Uggla.  Sure, they would play eight and a half more innings, but the collapse was over right then and there.

That 2007 finale hung over the 2008 finale.  Mets fans were probably a bit more optimistic than they had a right to be.  The day before Johan Santana took the ball with three days rest, and he pitched a complete game three hitter.  The Mets had Oliver Perez going in the finale.  Back then, this was considered a good thing.  The offense was clicking again.  However, that bullpen was just so awful.  The Mets were relying on Luis Ayala to close out games, and believe it or not, his 5.05 ERA and 1.389 WHIP was considered a steadying presence to an injury ravaged bullpen.  Beltran would hit a huge home run to tie the game, but the joy wouldn’t last.  Jerry Manuel, just an awful manager, turned to Scott Schoeneweis to gave up the winning home run to Wes Helms (Mets killer no matter what uniform he wore), and then aforementioned Ayala gave up another one that inning to Uggla to seal the deal at 4-2.

Fittingly, the last out was made by Ryan Church.  He was the same Mets player the Mets flew back and forth to the West Coast despite him having a concussion.  Remember the days when the Mets didn’t handle injuries well?  Nevermind.  In any event, I was one of the few that stayed to watch Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza close out Shea Stadium.  Many disagree, but I thought it helped.

Last year, was just a celebration.  The Mets had already clinched the NL East, and they were off to their first postseason since 2006.  The only thing left was the Mets winning one more game to get to 90 wins.  The 90 wins was window dressing, but the shift from 89 to 90 is just so satisfying.  It means more than 86 to 87 wins or 88 to 89 wins.  That 90 win mark is an important threshold for the psyche of teams and fans.

This year was something different altogether.  In terms of pure baseball, the Mets entered the day tied with the Giants for the first Wild Card with the Cardinals just a half a game behind (tied in the loss column).  The night before the Mets had seen Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero combine to put the team in a 10-0 hole that the Las Vegas 51s just couldn’t quite pull them out from under.  Still, that rally had created some buzz as did Robert Gsellman starting the game.  However, there was the shock of the Jose Fernandez news that muted some of the pregame buzz.

After the moment of silence, there was a game to be played, and it was just pure Mets dominance.

Gsellman would pitch seven shutout innings allowing just three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts.  More amazing than that was the fact that he actually got a bunt single.  For a player that can only bunt due to an injury to his non-pitching shoulder, the Phillies sure acted surprised by the play.  Overall, it was a great day by Gsellman who was helped out by the Mets offense and a little defense along the way:

 

It was that type of day for the Mets.  After Saturday’s pinch hit home run there was a Jay Bruce sighting again on Sunday.  On the day, he was 2-4 with two runs and a double.  It was easily the best game he had as a Met.  His second inning double would start the rally that ended with James Loney hitting an RBI groundout.  Then, as  Cousin Brucey would say, “the hits just keep on comin’!”  No, that was not just an allusion to the Phillies pitchers who hit three batters in the game.  It refers to the Mets offense.

Curtis Granderson hit a fourth inning solo shot to make it 2-0.  It was his 30th of the year making it the first time  the Mets have had a pair of 30 home run outfielders since, really who even knows?  In the fifth, T.J. Rivera plated a run with an RBI single.  Later in the fifth, Jose Reyes would the first of his two RBI bases loaded walks.  Overall, the big blow would come in the seventh off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera:

The grand slam put the capper on not just the game, but a pretty remarkable season at home where the Mets were 44-37 on the season.  The Mets also hit 193 homers at home, which was the most ever hit at Citi Field, and more than any the Mets ever hit at Shea Stadium in any one season:

In the eighth, the Mets just poured it on with some of the 51s getting into the game.  Gavin Cecchini was hit by a pitch, Brandon Nimmo and Ty Kelly walked, and Eric Campbell got another RBI pinch hit.  Throw in a Michael Conforto two RBI double, and the Mets would win 17-0.  Exiting Citi Field, you got the sense this was not the last time you would see this team at home.  As it stands now, the Mets back to being a game up on the Giants, and the Cardinals fell to 1.5 games back.

There haven’t been many final games to the season like this one, and I’m not sure there ever will be.  Overall, it was a great way to close out the regular season at Citi Field.  However, for right now, it is not good-bye like it was in 1993, and it certainly isn’t good riddance like it was in 2007.  Rather, this game had more of a feeling of, “See you again soon.”

  
  

 

It Began With the Home Run Derby

In 1985, Major League Baseball made the Home Run Derby a part of the All Star Game Festivities.  Darryl Strawberry would become the first ever Met to participate in a Home Run Derby and the only Met to win one.  He shared the title with Wally Joyner, who also hit four home runs.  Needless to say, it was a much different back then.

No other Met who followed would ever win a Home Run Derby.  In 1989, Howard Johnson‘s two home runs fell short of the three home runs hit by Ruben Sierra and Eric Davis.  In 1993, Bobby Bonilla would fall short as well as his five home runs were two short of the seven hit by Juan Gonzalez and Ken Griffey, Jr.  The Mets would not be close to winning until 2006 with David Wright.

It was that night in Pittsburgh that Wright seemed to be emerging from star to superstar.  With Paul Lo Duca as hit pitcher, Wright would hit 16 homers in the first round.  He made it all the way to the finals before losing to Ryan Howard.  In 2013, when the All Star Game was hosted at Citi Field, Wright would acquit himself well hitting five home runs.  However, he would not make it out of the first round.  Not many would notice as Wright wasn’t the story of that Home Run Derby.  It was Yoenis Cespedes flashing La Potencia:

Cespedes wowed the crowd with 17 first round homers en route to winning the 2013 Home Run Derby.  It was on that night that Cespedes’ legend began.  It was on that night that Mets fans began to become infatuated with him.  Three years later, he’s now their best player, and with him goes their hopes of returning to the World Series.

The Mets 30-30 Drought Will Continue

In 1987, Howard Johnson and Darryl Strawberry became the first Mets to have a 30-30 season. HoJo would do it again in 1989 and 1991. The Mets would not have another 30-30 season for another 16 years when HoJo was the Mets hitting coach. 

In 2007, under HoJo’s tutelage, David Wright joined the 30-30 club. Since that time, the Mets organization once again has had a drought. Over the past nine years, the Mets have not had a 30-30 season. It’s not that surprising. 

What is surprising is that with all the young exciting talent in baseball, the sport is in the middle of a drought of 30-30 players. As Andrew Simons reports on MLB.com, baseball is in the midst of a drought of 30-30 players. Since the aforementioned 1987 season, there was a 30-30 player every year until 2012. Baseball has not seen one since. 

Looking at the Mets roster, Wright is the only player who has had a 30-30 season. Looking over the Mets roster, Wright is the only player that has had a 30+ homerun season and a 30+ stolen base season. He hasn’t had a 30 homerun season since 2008. He hasn’t had a 30 stolen base season since 2007. With his back, no one should anticipate Wright accomplishing either of those tasks let alone both in one season. Overall, if baseball is going to have a 30-30 player this year, it’s not going to come from the Mets. 

That’s fine. It’s a statistical anomaly that has little correlation to successful teams. As we see with 1987, 1989, 1991, and 2007, those 30-30 seasons did not lead to playoff berths.  Seeing a player accomplish a 30-30 season is fun, but it’s not as fun as a playoff berth. 

Return of the Racing Stripe Jerseys

Yesterday, the Mets announced that the Mets will wear the iconic 1986 racing stripe jerseys every Sunday home game this season. I love these jerseys, but it does seem odd that the team is wearing these jerseys each and every Sunday. 

The Mets everyday left fielder, Michael Conforto, was born on March 1, 1993. At that time, the only members of the 86 Mets still around were Dwight Gooden and Howard Johnson. Gooden’s Mets career was effectively over at that point. He was a shell of his former self due to drug abuse and injuries. HoJo was only a utility player on the 86 team. The main contribution he made that year was being the on deck batter when Ray Knight scored off of Mookie Wilson‘s little dribbled up the first base line. 

It seems odd to me to see Conforto wearing a 25th anniversary patch that was created for a team seven years before he was born. 

Again, if the Mets want to do this, they should do it right. Update the patch to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1986 World Series championship. This way it truly becomes an homage to the 1986 team that it was intended to be. Furthermore, the jerseys will look more appropriate when you purchase them.  

Speaking of purchasing one, which I intend to do, there are two problems with the jerseys. The first is the diaper effect of the jerseys:

  

The next is if you don’t want the diaper, you don’t get the patch, nor do you get the option to personalize it:

  
One last note, am I the only one that thinks it’s going to look absurd to see Tim Teufel effectively wearing Darryl Strawberry‘s jersey?  

Overall, I love that these jerseys are back. I think the Mets were smart making them the Sunday jerseys. I hope they return in 2017. I just wish they were updated to be the tribute the Mets wanted them to be.