It used to be in order for a New York Mets player to have their number retired, they needed to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a New York Met. That is why Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza had their numbers retired, and why Gary Carter didn’t. Had the Baseball Hall of Fame not treated Carter differently than every other Hall of Famer in baseball history, his number 8 would be in the rafters at Citi Field.
Somewhere along the way, perhaps not coincidentally coinciding with Steve Cohen’s purchase of the New York Mets, the Mets changed their policy on retiring numbers. First, it was Jerry Koosman. Then, it was Keith Hernandez. Certainly, we anticipate David Wright will be next followed by a massive argument amongst the fanbase as to who gets their numbers retired.
Therein lies the problem. When the Mets had a stringent policy, there was at least one. A player wasn’t slighted by not having their number retired, and they weren’t having their career or impact on the Mets belittled. Rather, there was a policy in place, but there was a Mets Hall of Fame available for some of the true Mets greats.
Now, there is admittedly a quagmire. While you can argue Koosman and Hernandez tweak the standard to impactful and great Mets who have won a World Series, Wright’s eventual number retirement will throw all of that out. What follows is really just chaos, and more importantly, a need for explanation on a number of players.
John Franco is the all-time leader in team history in saves, and he was the third team captain in history. You can argue his number should now be retired. If it should, do you double retire 31, or do you retire his 45? If you opt for 45, why not Tug McGraw too?
What happens to Edgardo Alfonzo? By WAR, Alfonzo is the Mets best middle infielder, and he ranks ahead of Hernandez in the rankings. He was part of the best infield in Major League history, was a clutch hitter, won a pennant, and he won the New York-Penn League championship as a manager.
Bud Harrelson was the first Met inducted into the team Hall of Fame, and he’s the only man to win a ring with the 1969 and 1986 teams. Howard Johnson was the first Met to have a 30/30 season, he’s the only Met to do it twice, and he was part of the 1986 Mets.
Of course, you have Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry. Both symbolize all that was great and went wrong with those 1980s teams. To this day, you could argue they’re also two of the most beloved Mets ever.
Everyone is going to have their line and opinion. Without clear standards, each and every one of these players will be slighted by not having their number retired. There are and will be more.
Yes, honoring Koosman and Hernandez is great. They deserve to be honored. It feels good to honor them.
What doesn’t sit right is all those who won’t get that honor now wondering why they haven’t.
The New York Mets made the announcement Keith Hernandez will have his number 17 retired during the 2022 season. After the Mets opted to break with tradition and retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36, there is no doubt it was Hernandez’s number which needed to be retired next.
Really, even if the Mets kept to the old standard, Hernandez’s number should have been retired eventually. When you break it down, Hernandez had a Hall of Fame worthy career. He was the best fielding first baseman of all-time, and he had a better career than first baseman already in the Hall of Fame. Chances are, Hernandez would go in the Hall of Fame with the Mets, but to be fair, that is probably wishful Mets fan thinking.
That said, the standards have changed. Now, it seems to be impact on the franchise. When you look at the Mets franchise as a whole, Tom Seaver undoubtedly had the biggest impact. After all, he was given the moniker The Franchise. He has been and always will be the best player in franchise history. After Seaver, there is no question Hernandez has had the biggest impact in franchise history.
It began in 1983. Hernandez was shockingly available, and Frank Cashen made a shrewd trade not just to obtain him but to give him a contract extension. There are many ways you can define his leadership and what he brought to the Mets. It could be the streak from 1984 – 1989 where they averaged 96 wins winning two division titles and the 1986 World Series. There are the five Gold Gloves, three All-Stars, three top 10 MVP finishes, and the Silver Slugger.
It was more than that. It was what the Mets players told you. They told you it was Hernandez who taught that young but extremely talented team how to win. He then showed them how to do it with his clutch hitting and otherworldly defense. It was the reason why he was named the first captain in Mets history. In many ways, it was Hernandez who ushered in and led the Mets to the greatest run in franchise history.
If that was all Hernandez did, you could make the case Hernandez had the second most impactful career in Mets history. However, Hernandez would prove to be more than that. Hernandez has become part of the beloved Gary, Keith, and Ron. Gary Cohen is the best in the business, and it was Darling whose terrific work which would lead to him getting national broadcasts. However, it is Hernandez who is the reason fans stay watching.
There are the guffaws and the adoration of players. He’s become the beloved uncle who comes into our homes on the SNY broadcasts. Really, dating back to when he was first acquired by the Mets, he has been the beloved uncle of the franchise. He’s been the adult in the room to show us all how things are done, and now, he is the one who has stuck around to tell us how great things are and used to be.
Overall, throughout the history of the Mets franchise, Hernandez has left an indelible mark. He was a great player and a great broadcaster. Much of what we know love about the Mets is all because of him. He deserves his number retired and far more than that.
Mike Piazza perhaps let the cat out of the bag when he intimated the New York Mets may start retiring more numbers. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a shock when the organization announced Jerry Koosman‘s 36 was going to be retired.
Looking at the Mets franchise history, this is quite the Steinbrenner type of move.
After the simply bizarre act of retiring Casey Stengel‘s number, the Mets put the highest of standards for retiring player numbers. In fact, prior to the Koosman announcement, it was an honor solely reserved for Hall of Famers.
It’s a standard which frankly makes sense. Number retirement should be an honor presented to the true legends of your franchise. By definition, that’s what the Hall of Famers are.
If we sort through team history, if not for a completely and arbitrary application of an theretofore unenforced rule Gary Carter would be in the Hall of Fame as a Met. That would’ve led to the retirement of his 8.
It’s also quite possible we may one day see Keith Hernandez and Carlos Beltran inducted. With that should come their numbers being retired. At least with respect to Hernandez, that would be an extremely popular decision.
Past that duo, the only player who you can conceive of hitting that level is Jacob deGrom. That’s something that needs consideration.
When a number is retired, the franchise is putting a player at the level of Tom Seaver, Piazza, and quite possibly deGrom. Looking at the team history, they don’t have players at that level. They really don’t.
That includes David Wright who is an extremely popular choice amongst the fans. If not for injuries, he very well might’ve. By the same token, if not for addiction, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry not only would’ve been at that level, but quite possibly, would’ve been a step above Wright.
Fact is Wright is a Mets great, but he’s not a baseball great. Yes, he deserves honoring by the Mets, but a number retirement is just too high of an honor. That should be reserved for the true legends to wear a Mets uniform.
Keep in mind, as discussed on the Simply Amazin Podcast, much of the case for Wright can dwindle over time. For example, if Michael Conforto re-signs, he should take over a good chunk of Wright’s records.
After that, we could see someone else surpass both players. Part of the reason is the records on the books isn’t particularly impressive for a franchise. Keep in mind, that’s not saying Wright’s career numbers aren’t impressive. They are. However, as a franchise leader, it’s not.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The issue just is where you start drawing lines.
For example, for all the push for Wright, John Franco remains the franchise all-time saves leader, has the most saves of any left-handed pitcher in MLB history, and he was a captain. Despite that, there seems little to no push to retire his number even with his being a Met longer just as long as Wright.
Really, when you look at both, yes, they should be honored, but in reality, it should be short of number retirement. In reality, that’s why there’s a Mets Hall of Fame.
The answer should be to make the Mets Hall of Fame into a destination at Citi Field. Really showcase the Mets greats honoring them the way they should be honored. That’s far more fitting than trying to elevate players like Wright to the levels of Seaver.
In the end, there’s nothing wrong with not having many numbers retired. In many ways, that makes that honor all the more meaningful. It’s better to keep it that way while also finding an appropriate way to honor the Mets greats who aren’t in the Hall of Fame.
Tom Seaver did something unique in New York Mets history. When he took the field for player introductions before Game 1 of the 1986 World Series, he became the first pitcher to stand on the field for three separate Mets postseason games.
Of course, Seaver was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, and he never did pitch in that series. To date, no Mets pitcher has pitched in three separate postseasons for the Mets . . . yet.
Back in 2015, Noah Syndergaard and Jeurys Familia were big pieces of a Mets pitching staff which not only led the team to the postseason but also a pennant. They’d join Addison Reed as the only members of that 2015 staff to pitch in the ensuing postseason when the Mets lost the Wild Card Game.
They are just part of a group of Mets pitchers to pitch in multiple postseasons. The other pitchers in that group are Rick Aguilera, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Roger McDowell, Tug McGraw, and Seaver.
That’s a total of 17 pitchers who have appeared in two postseasons for the Mets. However, none have appeared in three.
If Syndergaard can return from Tommy John, and Familia can stay healthy and productive, they’re going to get that chance because this is an excellent Mets team. This is a team which should get there, and maybe this time Syndergaard and Familia can celebrate a World Series.
After that, with both being pending free agents, the question will be whether they’ll get the opportunity to get to pitch in a fourth postseason. Time will tell.
I had the privilege of appearing on the Simply Amazin’ podcast with the great Tim Ryder. During the podcast, names discussed include but are not limited to Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Carlos Carrasco, Rick Porcello, Francisco Lindor, J.D. Davis, Carlos Beltran, Bobby Valentine, David Wright, Bobby Thompson, Ralph Branca, Alex Cora, Luis Guillorme, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, James McCann, J.T. Realmuto, James Paxton, Trevor Rosenthal, Aaron Loup, Mike Piazza, Gil Hodges, Tom Seaver, Lucas Duda, Wilmer Flores, Jose Martinez, Alex Gonzalez, James Loney, Moises Alou, John Olerud, Davey Johnson, Pete Alonso, Wilson Ramos, David Peterson, Joey Lucchesi, Jordan Yamamoto, Corey Oswalt, Luis Rojas, Jeremy Hefner, Jim Eisenreich, Alex Fernandez, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Darryl Strawberry, Albert Almora, and more
Please take a listen.
— Simply Amazin' (@SimplyAmazinPod) February 15, 2021
With the scare of Davey Johnson being sick in the hospital with COVID19, the Mets were in danger of losing their second franchise great in less than a year. Tom Seaver will never be around to see his statue, but Johnson could be around to see his number retired.
The Mets standards for retiring numbers is all over the place. Casey Stengel was the first for, well, it wasn’t his performance as manager. That’s for sure.
Then, it was Gil Hodges. His number was posthumously retired a little more than a year after his tragic death. His guiding the Miracle Mets certainly factored into this decision.
After that, for the longest time, only Hall of Famers had their number retired. Yes, Seaver’s number was retired before his induction, but his induction was a fait accompli. For his part, Mike Piazza had to wait for his induction.
Things have changed with Jerry Koosman now getting his number retired. With that happening, it’s hard to ascertain where the line now is. Wherever it is, one thing should be clear – Davey Johnson should have his number retired.
Johnson is arguably the best manager in Mets history. In fact, in the 59 year history of the Mets, he remains the only manager to win two division titles. That’s a record which will stand for at least two more years.
That’s not the only records Johnson has. He’s the only manager to have never finished below second place. His .588 winning percentage still rates first. The same for his 595 wins.
He’s the only Mets manager to have five consecutive 90+ win seasons.He’s the only manager to have multiple 100 win seasons.
In fact, his 1986 Mets are one of the best teams of all-time. In fact, since World War II, no National League team has won more games than that Mets team won that season. As we all know, the Mets won the World Series that year.
With that, he joined Grote as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series.
The way Johnson did it was truly unique. He was one of the first managers noted for what we now deem an analytical approach. Before games, he used to scour over computer printouts to not only try to maximize his lineup, but also to try to find an edge. As his record indicates, he was very successful.
He also was unique in that he was not always beholden to veterans. In fact, one of the reasons the Mets were so successful early on is Johnson went with the talented Mets core. That included his pushing Frank Cashen to call Dwight Gooden up for the 1984 season.
That was a very bold decision which helped deliver the Mets a World Series title three years later.
Johnson did his part getting the most out of those young Mets on the field. Although, there will forever be the question if his laidback style managing personal lives had a negative impact. To be fair, it’s hard to pin substance abuse issues on just a manager. That’s an unfair criticism.
Overall, Johnson wasn’t just the winningest manager in Mets history, he’s also a revolutionary figure in the game. He’s as important a figure in team history, and in many ways, he’s the best manager in Mets history.
Really, it’s hard to imagine anyone can do what he did. The winning. Changing the way the game is managed. All of it. And that is exactly why the Mets should retire his number.
It’s been a beef with Mets fans for a while. The Mets now have a rich history, and we want to see that honored. One way we want to see it is Old Timer’s Day.
It’s something the Mets used to have in the early years, but they haven’t had it in the time the Wilpons owned the Mets. Now, according to Steve Cohen himself, that’s going to change.
Darell, No brainer to have Old Times Day , done
— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 1, 2020
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the prospective lineups could look like. This is a completely unscientific sampling utilizing just my opinion on who is popular, who Mets fans want to see back, and who can still play a bit. There are two for each position as there are two teams playing against one another:
Of course, this is holding a little too true to the positions these players played in their careers. Due to age and the like, they may move around the diamond. That’s more than alright as we just want to see them again.
Of course, some will understandably opt out of have other commitments. To that end, there are plenty of unnamed options like Al Leiter, Todd Pratt, Carlos Delgado, Jeff Kent, Kevin Elster, Robin Ventura, Kevin Elster, Bernard Gilkey, Lance Johnson, and Benny Agbayani.
For that matter, why not bring Bobby Bonilla. The Mets can have fun with it and hold the game on July 1. Before the game, the Mets could have fun with it and give Bonilla a giant check.
If you think about it, that will finally give Bonilla some of the applause he should’ve gotten as a player, and it will finally put to rest the negative narrative around the day.
The game can also feature the racing stripe jerseys and the black jerseys fans seem to love so much. We can also have cameos from Mets greats from the past like Jerry Koosman who may not be able to play.
Overall, that’s exactly what the Cohen Era is presenting. It’s allowing the Mets and their fans to move forward, enjoy the past, and have some fun.
If the Mets want a chance at the postseason, they may not be able to lose even one game. For that to happen, they’re going to need some unexpected great pitching performances.
They got that last night out of the rookie David Peterson.
Peterson would join Jerry Koosman, Pete Schourek, and Hisanori Takahashi as the only left-handed Mets rookies to strike out 10 in a game. Overall, he allowed just one run over six on three hits and four walks.
To put into perspective how well he pitched, Freddie Freeman was 0-for-5 with the golden sombrero and a GIDP. This is the same Freeman who routinely kills the Mets and is a front runner for the NL MVP.
He’d pick up the win because the Mets offense scored just enough early and blew it out late.
Offensively speaking, Robinson Cano drove the Mets to victory.
In the first, Braves starter Ian Anderson was wild walking the bases loaded. Cano delivered the rare Mets big hit with RISP with a two RBI single.
It was 3-2 entering the bottom of the eighth after a Travis d’Arnaud homer in the top of the inning. Any flashbacks to the 1998 and 1999 Mets subsided when Dominic Smith and Cano went back-to-back to expand the Mets lead to 5-2.
That rally would continue with Brandon Nimmo, who is getting insanely hot of late, hitting a two RBI single. That pushed the score to 7-2.
In the end, the Mets chances of pulling this off aren’t very good. Not in the least. However, the bright side is on a night like this, we might’ve found out something about Peterson. There’s a lot more to his career, but this big start in a huge spot is the type of game which can springboard a career.
Game Notes: Robinson Chirinos hit an RBI double in the fourth
(1) Tom Seaver – Seaver is dubbed The Franchise for taking the team from a losing franchise to World Series winners. He holds nearly every pitching record in team history, and he is considered to be, if not the greatest, among the greatest right-handed pitchers in Major League history. He was the first Mets player to have his number retired, and he was the first Mets player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. To date, he is the starting pitcher with the highest percent of the vote.
(2) Jerry Koosman – Best left-handed pitcher in Mets history, and he will be the first non-Hall of Famer to have his number retired by the Mets. A Rookie of the Year and Cy Young runner-up. Was great in the 1969 World Series. Beat the Orioles in a needed Game 2 victory, and he was the winner for the Game 5 clincher. He was the one who swiped his shoe in the infamous shoe polish incident. Was great again in the 1973 postseason winning a pivotal Game 5. Finished Mets career with a 4-0 postseason record with a 2.55 ERA. Holds nearly every left-handed starting pitcher record.
The 2010 draft was one of the best in Mets history. It was not only because it brought the team future superstars like Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, but also because it developed useful Major League players. One of those players was 30th round draft pick Josh Edgin.
Edgin would first get called up to the majors in 2012, and he would be given the chance to develop as a LOOGY on a rebuilding Mets team. Something seemed to click for him in August when he began to put together a streak of 16 appearances without allowing an earned run. During that season, he seemed to establish himself as a part of the future of the Mets bullpen.
Unfortunately, Edgin would have to wait another year to do that as he would deal with the typical ups-and-downs of a young reliever in the bullpen, and he would deal with a stress fracture in his rib in 2013. Finally, in 2014, he got his chance, and he was one of the best relievers on that Mets team, and quite possibly, one of the best LOOGYs in all of baseball.
Over 47 appearances, Edgin was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA, 0.915 WHIP, a 9.2 K/9, and a 4.67 K/BB. He limited left-handed batters to a paltry .189/.217/.323 batting line. In the rare occasions he had to face a right-handed batter, he more than held his own limiting them to a .219 batting average.
Edgin would last the full season even with inflammation in his elbow, which was originally diagnosed as bone spurs. In the ensuing Spring Training, Edgin had to shut it down as he needed Tommy John surgery. As a result, he would miss out on the Mets pennant run. As is typically the case, Edgin had a long rehabilitation road, and he would not appear again in the Majors until August 2016.
Fourteen of Edgin’s 16 appearances were scoreless. Between that and his being out of options, Edgin was set to be a part of the 2017 Opening Day roster. In the time he was up with the team, Edgin put together good numbers including a 114 ERA+. On April 28, 2017, he probably had his Mets career highlight.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, Edgin was summoned to pitch to Bryce Harper. Edgin induced Harper to hit into a game ending 1-2-3 double play to preserve the Mets 7-5 lead and earn his second Major League save.
Unfortunately, he would hit the disabled list again in July, and at that point, his Mets career was effectively over. He finished his Mets career with the 22nd most appearances among relievers, and his 2014 season was one of the best seasons a Mets LOOGY ever had. He was a success story for a 30th round draft pick, and he is the best Mets player to ever wear the number 66.
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter
9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns
13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran
16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry
19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky
25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy
29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza
32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver
42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw
46. Oliver Perez
47. Jesse Orosco
48. Jacob deGrom
49. Armando Benitez
50. Sid Fernandez
51. Rick White
52. Yoenis Cespedes
53. Chad Bradford
54. T.J. Rivera
55. Orel Hershiser
56. Andres Torres
57. Johan Santana
58. Jenrry Mejia
59. Fernando Salas
60. Scott Schoeneweis
61. Dana Eveland
62. Drew Smith
63. Tim Peterson
64. Elmer Dessens
65. Robert Gsellman