Keith Hernandez

Mets Proposed 2020 Uniform Plan

Since the black jerseys were first introduced in 1998, they have garnered much debate amongst fans. For some, they are like the racing stripe jerseys. It is the jersey they associate the Mets wearing when they were on top of the world. Think back to it. The Mets wore the black jerseys for some really monumental occasions:

Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam Single
Bobby Jones‘ one hitter
Mike Hampton clinching the 2000 pennant
David Wright celebrating the 2006 NL East clincher

There were many more moments as well. With the Mets soon to embark on the 20th anniversary of that 2000 pennant, there seems to be a recent push to bring back those jerseys. Certainly, it is something we saw Pete Alonso, Marcus Stroman, and some other brilliant writer bring up over the last few months.

Now there, were a few problems with the black jerseys. To a certain portion of the fanbase, it was an abandonment of the Mets true glory years. These were not the jerseys of Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman. It looked nothing like the jerseys of Gary Carter, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Darryl Strawberry. Really, it was a complete abandonment of the Mets roots which was supposed to be a partial homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants.

On more than one occasion, we heard Howie Rose lament about the infrequency in which we all saw the pinstripes. That was truly bizarre as they remained the designated home jersey. The black jerseys were only supposed to be an alternate, but they were treated as anything but that. Throw in the awful cap, and you see things did need to be eventually changed.

Since 2011, the black jerseys have been retired. In that time, the Mets have had a welcome return of the pinstripes, and they finally added the blue alternates fans had wanted to see for years. Still, with the anniversary, it being the jersey many grew up seeing, and people liking the look of it, people also want to see the black jerseys. With Carlos Beltran‘s return, it does seem like the right time to do it.

What many don’t want to see is the black jerseys overdone. They also want to see the pinstripes and the blue alternates. To that end, as previously proposed, the black jerseys should become the Friday night jerseys. If nothing else, it would be a call back to this epic Mike Piazza homer, which not so coincidentally, was on a Friday night:

As for the blue alternates, the Mets should put Mr. Met back as a sleeve patch, and the team should wear them as part of the Family Sundays.That ensures the blue alternates don’t get lost in the shuffle, and as noted, the Mr. Met patch is a nice touch for the days when the team has the Mr. Met dash.

For the weekday games, the Mets should wear the pinstripes.

Aside from Friday and Sunday, this need not be a hard and fast rule. The team could catch fire in one jersey leading to the team wearing them more as a good luck charm. The team could opt to feature one as part of a national showcase game for Fox or ESPN. The one caveat being it makes little to no sense to wear the black jerseys during hot summer days. But overall, this is the framework which really works well for the team.

Planning it all out this way, allows the Mets to do some advertising around it, and it seems to satisfy all fans. More than that, it gives the team an opportunity to really boost jersey sales. Overall, when this keeps everyone happy, and it leads to more money for the team, it is difficult to imagine why the team would not proceed with this plan.

Edgardo Alfonzo Deserved Better

Edgardo Alfonzo is one of the greatest Mets to ever wear the uniform. In fact, according to WAR, he’s the eighth best Met ever putting him ahead of beloved Mets like Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza.

Even if you don’t subscribe to WAR, it’s hard to argue he’s the best second baseman in team history, and he’s one of the most beloved players to ever don a Mets uniform. That includes both fans and fellow players. We all loved and respected him.

T.J. Quinn of ESPN would note that saying Alfonzo “was practically a coach while he played, he was so respected by other players. ” They all believed he would one day manage, and starting in 2017, he would.

While things did not go well in his first year as a manager, Alfonzo did guide the Cyclones to consecutive seasons with a winning record. That included the Cyclones winning their first ever outright New-York Penn League title this year.

With the Mets having fired Mickey Callaway, you could make the argument Alfonzo should’ve been considered as a replacement. Alfonzo wouldn’t even get an interview. In fact, he’s out of a job all together.

As reported by Mike Puma of the New York Post, the reason provided was Brodie Van Wagenen wanted to hire his own guy to manage the Cyclones.

Did you ever think you’d see the day where the Mets said Alfonzo wasn’t one of their guys?

It’s embarrassing, and it gets worse when you consider it’s coming from the guy who gutted the farm system and brought in his old clients for a third place finish. Under Van Wagenen, the Mets are saying Robinson Cano and Jed Lowrie are their guys, but Alfonzo isn’t.

Now, the Mets are saying the only manager in their organization who went to the playoffs, let alone won a championship, isn’t one of their guys. The best second baseman in their history isn’t one of their guys. A person who has been a Met since he’s been 17 years old isn’t one of their guys.

Not only is this insulting, but it’s embarrassing for this organization. Alfonzo, the players, and the fans deserved better. That does double when you consider all the times the Wilpons interceded for Terry Collins.

Overall, there’s been nothing from the organization. Not a press release thanking him. As usual, both the Wilpons and Van Wagenen are ducking the media to avoid answering for their decision.

This is not how you treat an all-time great Met. It gets worse when you consider Alfonzo STILL isn’t in the Mets Hall of Fame. Top to bottom, the Mets organization should be ashamed of themselves.

Edgardo Alfonzo deserves much better than this.

Mets Better Not Retire Jose Reyes’ Number

On his Twitter account, Mets starter Marcus Stroman said he was going to change his number from 7 because he believes the number belongs to Jose Reyes. Now, if Stroman is making this decision on his own, he’s entitled. After all, it’s his number.

However, given the fact these are the Wilpons, there is some hesitation here.

Right before the season ended, the Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. At the time of the announcement, the Mets also indicated there were going to be other retirement ceremonies coming in the future.

Most assume that automatically paves the way for Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright to have their numbers retired. There are other players who merit consideration as well. Under no circumstance should that list of players under consideration include Jose Reyes.

While the Mets were losing Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, Reyes was spending his night in jail while his wife had to go to the hospital as a result of Reyes grabbing his wife by the throat and threw her into a sliding glass door leading out to a lanai in their hotel room at the Four Seasons in Maui.

As a result of his abuse, Reyes received what was at the time the longest ever domestic violence suspension. He’d also be released by the Colorado Rockies.

The only team willing to bring him aboard was the Mets. It wasn’t a surprise given the team’s need for a third baseman due to Wright’s stenosis, the teams shoestring budget, and this being the same team who was sued for firing an unwed pregnant woman.

After Reyes wasn’t particularly good in 2016 (-6 DRS, 0.6 WAR), the Mets brought him back in 2017. He’d be even worse in 2017 with a -0.4 WAR. Somehow, that earned him a $2 million deal to come back in 2018.

That season, Reyes was flat out terrible. Worse than that, he was a malcontent who went public with his demands for more playing time he did not merit.

In the end, that’s what you have with Reyes – a man (if you can call him that) who beats his wife and complains about playing behind players playing much better than him. When viewed through that prism, there’s absolutely no way you even contemplate retiring his number.

If you want to look past that (you shouldn’t), he still hasn’t done enough to have his number retired.

Despite playing 12 years with the Mets, he’s only 10th in career WAR. He’s not in the top 10 in average, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, wRC+, homers, or walks. Keep in mind, he has the third most plate appearances in team history.

Yes, he leads all-time in triples and stolen bases. On the later, he also has been caught stealing more than anyone too.

Looking beyond that, when he was on the Opening Day roster, the Mets went to the postseason once, and in his 11 postseason games, he hit .239/.275/.354.

In the end, there are plenty of things you can point to in making the case Reyes was a good player on the field for the Mets. He’s also clearly the best shortstop in team history. What he isn’t is someone who merits having his number retired.

20/20 Hindsight: Time To Say Good-bye to Postseason and Beloved Players

Well, the Mets postseason hopes are officially over leaving them to play out the string and for them to set some personal accomplishments. In between, there were some real good things both in this series and the season:

1. The end of the season was put off a game because Michael Conforto came up huge. He once again showed himself a cornerstone player and one who the Mets should be working to keep around for his entire career.

2. The Mets should also be working to keep Zack Wheeler a Met past this season. He had another great outing in an extremely strong finish to the season. He wants to remain a Met, and the Mets need him in the rotation to win next year.

3. That said, it was possible yesterday was a good-bye to both Wheeler and Curtis Granderson. There was a sense of melancholy with Granderson’s homer possibly being his last at-bat in Citi Field and it putting the loss on Wheeler in his last start as a Met.

4. On the topic of good-byes, Jeff McNeil‘s year is done after he broke his wrist when getting hit with a pitch. Fortunately, he has time to heal up and get ready to be the player he has been this year. The Mets need him to be that player next year because when he is he is the more indispensable position player on this roster.

5. One pitcher who the Mets did extend was Jacob deGrom, who cemented his case for the Cy Young by running his scoreless inning streak to 23 innings. He will become the first Mets pitcher to win consecutive Cy Youngs putting him on the pantheon of Mets great pitchers.

6. That list includes Jerry Koosman who is getting his number retired by the team. If the Mets are going to lower their standards for retiring numbers, Koosman was the right place to start.

7. As noted in an earlier article, if Koosman is going to get his number retired, the door is now open for the Mets to retire the numbers of David Wright, Gary Carter, Carlos Beltran, Keith Hernandez, and John Franco.

8. It has been great to see the Mets move forward with honoring their history. That should also be coupled by paying more attention to their Hall of Fame. That is not just improving upon it. It is also putting more players in that Hall of Fame including Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, and Bobby Valentine.

9. It should also include Gary Cohen and Howie Rose. On that note with Marty Brennaman retiring from the Reds, we are reminded of how lucky we are as Mets fans to have them call games. We are also lucky on the radio side, it has gone from Bob Murphy to Gary Cohen to Howie Rose.

10. On the subject of lucky, we have been lucky to see Pete Alonso this season. He has been a great player for the Mets setting records. It’s more than just the rookie home run records. He is also his tying Johnny Mize and Willie Mays for the most homers by a New York National League player.

11. He also joins a group including Mays, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, and Ralph Kiner in having 51 homers and 118 RBI in a season before the age of 25. That puts Alonso in a group of Hall of Fame players. It will fun to see what he has in store for next year.

12. Hopefully, Mickey Callaway get his way and gets to bat Alonso leadoff over the final three games to help get him past Aaron Judge for the rookie home run record.

13. With respect to Callaway, he has done enough to stick around another year. We’ve seen him get everything out of this team he could. Young players like Alonso and Amed Rosario have improved. We’ve seen deGrom get to a new level, and the starters be healthy for two years running. That is really no small task.

14. That said, there is enough to get rid of him. At the end of the day, if he is going to be replaced, we need to see him be replaced with an Alex Cora type. The Mets need a manager who is going to push the front office and help implement things needed to win. If they’re not going to do that firing Callaway does little more than change the narrative.

15. Speaking of narratives, the Mets don’t spend. They don’t. People need to stop insisting they do. The payroll is inflated by over $36 million owed to Yoenis Cespedes and Wright which has not been reinvested in this team.

16. The Mets have a number of holes to fill between the bullpen and the rotation. That’s before we even consider the Mets even contemplating trading Noah Syndergaard. They’re also not going to be bailed out by the insurance for Cespedes. That’s a lot of holes to fill without the money or prospects. That’s a tall task for even a competent GM. For Brodie Van Wagenen, it’s impossible.

17. One idea is to put Seth Lugo back in the rotation. Doing that would only leave a gaping hole in the bullpen. That’s a hole all the bigger when you consider Edwin Diaz has allowed as many homers this year as Armando Benitez did in his worst two seasons combined. Keep in mind those two seasons were records for the Mets.

18. There were some bright spots this season which perhaps none of them being bigger than Paul Sewald finally getting his first Major League win.

19. With Sewald getting the win and other highlights, this has been an entertaining season. It is not too dissimilar from the 1996 season where we saw Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, and Lance Johnson having great personal years in a year where the Mets would fall short.

20. And that’s what happened, the Mets fell short, and as Brodie Van Wagenen said himself on WFAN falling short like this would be a disappointment. Just remember those words as everyone, including the Mets themselves, try to spin this season and the future.

Jerry Koosman’s Number Being Retired Opens The Door For Five Other Mets

In a shock to everyone, the New York Mets announced they were going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s number 36. Previously, as was the case with Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, the Mets standard for retiring a player’s name was their induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. Now that the standards have officially been lowered, there are a number of other Mets who deserve consideration for the same honor as Seaver, Piazza, and Koosman.

#5 David Wright

Wright is the Mets all-time leader in WAR among position players, and he has set team records in at-bats, plate appearances, run scored, hits, total bases, doubles, walks, RBI, and a number of other categories. He was a consummate professional, a real face of the franchise, and a player who stuck around even when the team was rebuilding.

If not for injuries, Wright would have been a Hall of Famer. He is one of the most, if not the most, beloved Mets to put on the uniform, and he is only one of four captains in team history.

#8 Gary Carter

Under the previous standard, Carter’s number would have been retired had the Hall of Fame not forced him to go in as a Montreal Expos player instead of as a Mets player as he had wanted. Of course, lost in the Hall of Fame’s decision was one of the reasons Carter was even inducted into the Hall of Fame was his time with the Mets.

Carter proved to be the missing piece which would push the Mets over the top in 1986. Speaking of 1986, he was the guy who got the two out single against Calvin Schiraldi to get that rally started. His contributions in that series were much more than that as he led all players in homers and RBI.

Carter was also noted by several of the Mets pitchers as being what helped put that pitching staff over the top. Dwight Gooden said of him, “I relied on Gary for everything when I was on the mound.” Ron Darling said, “With all the sabermetric numbers that we use today, when Gary came over, he brought his own National League computer with him — it was his brain.” (ESPN).

With Carter, the Mets had their greatest run in franchise history, and he was a leader on that team. He was the second captain in team history, and he is one of the most important players who ever put on the Mets uniform.

#15 Carlos Beltran

The people largely against this are fixated on that strikeout, but what those people overlook is the Mets are nowhere near that position if Beltran doesn’t have what could be the greatest season a Mets position player has ever had. That includes his hitting .296/.387/.667 in that sereis. That year and during his Mets career Beltran played like the Hall of Famer he will officially be once he is eligible.

Beltran is the greatest center fielder in team history, and he was a true five tool player winning three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers while being a member of the Mets. That was part of him being named an All-Star in five of his seven years in Queens.

When you break it all down, Beltran is a Hall of Famer who had his best years with the Mets, and everything being equal, he would wear a Mets cap on his plaque.

#17 Keith Hernandez

While Carter was largely viewed as the player who put the Mets over the top, Hernandez was seen as the player who taught a young talented Mets team how to win. Of course, lost in that narrative was how Hernandez was a driving force in helping those Mets teams win.

In his seven years with the Mets, he had seven Gold Gloves, which is the most in team history. He was more than his glove having a the third best OBP, fifth best OPS+, and 10th most RBI in team history.

He was a fiery leader who famously warned Jesse Orosco to not throw another fastball to Kevin Bass. Of course, his leadership was much more than that, which is one of the reasons why he was the first ever player to be named captain.

Of course, we cannot discuss Hernandez without acknowledging his work in the booth. His color commentary has made him an even more beloved Met. If his playing career wasn’t sufficient, certainly his being a vital part of “GKR” puts him over the top.

#45 John Franco

Franco is the greatest closer in Mets history. He has the most appearances and saves in Mets history. In fact, his 424 career saves ranks as the most saves ever by a left-handed reliever. While he played for a number of bad Mets teams, he would come up big many times when the Mets needed him most.

He has a 1.88 postseason ERA for the Mets. Included in that was his striking out Barry Bonds, and his getting the win in Game 3 of the 2000 World Series. As big as those moments were, it is possible his biggest moment was his getting the win the first game back after 9/11 wearing an FDNY cap honoring his friends who died that day.

It should also be noted Franco was a rare closer who was also a team leader. He famously not only surrendered his 31 for Piazza, he would also make sure to make him feel welcome in New York. That was certainly a factor in Piazza staying. It was also a reason Franco was named the third captain in team history.

With respect to Franco, it should be noted his predominantly wearing 31 could mean the team could retire that number in his honor as well. The team also has the option of retiring 45 in both his and Tug McGraw‘s honor. The same tactic can be used for number 5 with Davey Johnson also arguably deserving the honor for arguably being the best manager in team history.

Beyond this group of five players, there are certainly more players who could be argued with everyone having their favorite players and other players having had a significant impact on the team and its history. Of course, it should be noted this list includes players who are no longer playing. If we were to expand it, we would have to also include Jacob deGrom on this list.

The one thing we know is the next player who will have his number retired is Koosman. It is an honor befitting one of the greatest Mets in team history, and it should lead to more emotional days at Citi Field honoring Mets greats.

Mets Somehow Hold On And Win

After not having his typical second half run, Zack Wheeler had turned it on of late allowing just one earned in each of his past two starts. He’d do the same tonight.

It initially didn’t seem like that was going to be the case tonight. In the first inning, he immediately got into trouble. Ketel Marte hit a leadoff single, stole second, and he cane home on an Eduardo Escobar RBI single putting the Mets down 1-0.

After that first inning, Marte continued to give him fits doubling and walking, but Wheeler would find his way around his getting on base without yielding another run.

What helped Wheeler was his ability to get the big strikeout. In fact, he’d strike out seven Diamondbacks in the game. It’s the highest amount of strikeouts he’d have in a game in over a month.

The other thing working for Wheeler was his getting two double plays. After all was said and done, he’d have a final line of 7.0 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 2 BB, and 7 K.

For him, it was a matter of who was going to provide the offense as Zac Gallen completely shut down Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso who combined to strike out six times in six at-bats. This made Gallen the first ever pitcher to strike out McNeil three times in a game. He’d fly out in the seventh to avoid his first golden sombrero.

With the Mets two big bats atop the lineup being completely shut down, the Mets needed someone to step up. That someone would be Todd Frazier.

In the bottom of the second, Frazier hit a go-ahead RBI double. On the play, the Diamondbacks had a perfectly executed relay, and upon replay it appeared they got Amed Rosario at the plate, but the initial safe call was upheld.

What was interesting about that play was in the fourth, it appeared Brandon Nimmo avoided Alex Avila‘s tag when the Mets ran a contact play with Wheeler at the plate.

At least tonight, those two calls evened out for the Mets.

Nimmo being on third on that play was a point of contention for Keith Hernandez. On Frazier’s fourth inning RBI double, his second of the game, it appeared as if Josh Rojas might’ve been able to make a play.

Instead of going to second, he stopped just a little more than halfway. As a result, he couldn’t score on a ball which hit the top of the wall meaning Robinson Cano would score the only run on the play.

This meant a 3-1 instead of a 4-1 lead on a night when Seth Lugo was unavailable.

In the eighth, Brad Brach allowed a long opposite field homer to Escobar to make it just a 3-2 lead.

With two out and nobody on, Mickey Callaway wasn’t messing around by going to Justin Wilson for the four out save.

After a walk to Rojas, Adam Jones flew out to end the inning. While it was just two batters, Wilson had to work needing 10 pitches to get out Jones and 15 pitches total.

To put it in perspective, since coming off the IL, he only threw more than 20 pitches three times over 26 appearances. Perhaps that is why Edwin Diaz was warming as the inning began.

Wilson was asked to do something he hadn’t done since April 2. It wouldn’t be pretty. Really, it wasn’t pretty at all.

Nick Ahmed led off the ninth with a single, and he’d be on third after a fielder’s choice and a Kevin Cron pinch hit single past a diving Rosario. That’s when all heck broke loose.

Marte hit a ball to Alonso freezing Ahmed at third. With it sinking, Tim Locastro froze at first and Ahmed at third. While Alonso dove, he couldn’t complete the catch.

He immediately picked up the ball and stepped on first. Then, instead of getting Locastro, who was dead to rights, he tried to pick Ahmed off third. With Ahmed getting back safely, the Mets all-time leader in walk-off hits, Wilmer Flores, stepped up to the plate.

Despite Wilson clearly tiring and everyone running around with their heads cut off,Callaway stuck with Wilson. His faith was rewarded as he struck out Flores to end the game.

After the 3-2 win, the Mets are tied in the loss column with the Diamondbacks and a four behind in the loss column to the Cubs.

Game Notes: Callaway said Frazier started over J.D. Davis because Davis needs days off. It should be noted Davis hurt his leg about a month ago. In Brooklyn, Edgardo Alfonzo led the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NYPL Championship. It’s their first championship since they were awarded one in the wake of 9/11.

Congratulations Pete Alonso

One of the burdens for a first time dad is figuring out just how you can make your child a Mets fan. The Yankees have long owned New York, they win, and they always have the bigger stars. As a parent, you make do with what you have.

Back in 1983, that was Darryl Strawberry.

Strawberry was the biggest thing to happen to the Mets since seemingly Tom Seaver. He was the first overall pick of the 1980 draft, and he was hailed as the black Ted Williams. He’d be called up in 1983, and he’s actually live up to the hype that year.

Strawberry electrifying baseball and the Mets made selling the team easy to young impressionable baseball fans. The ensuing run for the team made it all the easier. While we talk about players like Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, and Gary Carter, and justifiably so, Strawberry was the first to burst onto the scene and give everyone a glimpse into what would soon be.

Some of Strawberry’s Mets rookie records still stand today. That includes his 26 homers, which was 26 if his still team record 252 homers as a Met.

The latter still stands, but for who knows how long. In today’s 10-2 route over the Cubs, Pete Alonso hit his 26th homer of the season tying him with Strawberry atop the Mets all-time rookie leaderboard:

With 85 games remaining in the season, Alonso is not just assured to surpass Strawberry, he’s going to obliterate the record. In fact, Todd Hundley‘s and Carlos Beltran‘s Mets single season home run record (41) is in jeopardy.

Other records like Beltran’s and Howard Johnson‘s 80 extra base hits or Mike Piazza‘s .614 SLG may fall as well. Seeing how these power records are in jeopardy, you understand why Alonso’s at-bats have become must see TV. You have to stop to watch him hit because you don’t know what’ll happen next.

Combine that with his being a great teammate, and his doing fun Step Brothers spoofs with Jeff McNeil, you see how he and his epic home run blasts have made him a fan favorite. Much like Strawberry, you not only see how he provides hope for the future, but you also have a seminal figure who makes it cool to be a Mets fan, which is a relief to fathers everywhere.

So, with him hitting his 26th homer congratulations to tying a record which had stood for over 35 years and a record which exists for a franchise which is 57 years old. More than that, congratulations are in order for being a terrific ballplayer whose skills are only surpassed by being the teammate he is. Overall, congratulations to Alonso for being Alonso. As we see, that’s a very special thing to be.

Bet Mets Wish They Didn’t Force Getting This One In

The Mets have a big Noah Syndergaard Game of Thrones Bobblehead on Saturday, so they were playing tonight even if it meant starting the game at 10:00, or in this case 9:52.

It didn’t matter Jacob deGrom was making the start after coming off the Injured List. It didn’t matter Juan Lagares suffered a severe injury in similarly poor field conditions last year. The Mets just had to play this game.

To that extent, the Mets organization suffered the loss they so richly deserved.

The tone was set with Lorenzo Cain robbing Todd Frazier of a homer in the second inning.

In the ensuing inning, the Brewers put up a five spot against deGrom. Basically, while deGrom was able to navigate out of trouble in the first and second, the dam burst in the third.

His final line was an unsightly 4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K. It’s almost like it’s a terrible idea to have a pitcher who is coming off an injury and hasn’t pitched in nearly two weeks sit around and mess up his routine to get in the game.

If there was any hope of a comeback, Corey Oswalt would dash them. In the fifth, he’d allow four runs to put the game completely out of reach.

By the time this was written, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez are going through staff Instagrams to discuss their offseason vacations. In essence, they’ve stopped feigning interest in this 9-2 game, which should not have been played today.

Game Notes: Jacob Rhame is appealing his suspension but will do so in the minors. Both he and Luis Guillorme were sent down to make room for deGrom and Oswalt on the roster.

McNeil Finally Earned A Real Number

During his time in the minors, Jeff McNeil wore a couple of different numbers. Last year, he wore 12 with Las Vegas, and he wore 1 with Binghamton. Overall, he’d wear a variety of numbers including 3, 5, and 10. Naturally, when the Mets called him up to the majors, McNeil was assigned the number 68.

The significance of 68?  Well, it was just next in line.

It was something the Mets seemed to start in 2016. That year, the Mets gave T.J. Rivera the number 54, and Ty Kelly was given 55. When Kelly Johnson returned, Kelly was given 56. Over the ensuing years, we’d see the number gradually climb up and up to the point Kelly would wear 66 last year, and eventually McNeil wearing 68.

Now, this is not a practice reserved for all prospects, and it has not been a practice always in place. For example, when Jose Reyes and David Wright were called up, they were given their now iconic 7 and 5 numbers. For that matter, when Eric Campbell was called up to the majors in 2014, he went from 24, a number somewhat unofficially retired by the Mets, to 29.

Put another way, back then the Mets appeared to give their players real numbers. That happened even in 2015 when Daniel Muno wore 16, and Darrell Ceciliani wore 1.

Now, McNeil is going to wear the number 6, a number which was available all of last season. For that matter, Rivera is going to wear 19, which was a number that Jay Bruce had before he was called up to the majors. It should also be noted the 3 he wore with Las Vegas was worn by Curtis Granderson.

Now, there are some restrictions with uniform numbers. For example, recent uniform history suggests Gary Carter‘s 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s 17 are unofficially retired. They may also want to try to preserve numbers for their top prospects like how Peter Alonso was assigned 20 this Spring Training.

Still, there is a wide chasm between not allowing a player to have a certain number and giving them a number in the 50s or 60s. These players have achieved something by making it all the way to the majors. They should be treated as such by giving them a real uniform number, especially as we saw in the case with Dilson Herrera and Juan Uribe, you are going to make the young player switch when a more established player wants the number.

As a side note, it’s more fan friendly as well because if you are someone immediately attached to a player like McNeil, when you go out and get the jersey, or even shirsey, you have the right number and aren’t out money when the player is finally deemed good enough to pick their own real baseball number.

Al Leiter Making Right Decision Leaving Booth

In recent news former Mets great Al Leiter has announced he will not be returning to the YES booth for the 2019 season. With him leaving the booth, he is leaving behind a promising and good broadcast career which had begun when he was a player providing commentary during the 2003 NLCS.

During that NLCS, you could see Leiter was going to be a gifted broadcaster. He hasn’t disappointed in his time as a Yankees color commentator or as an analyst on MLB Network. Seeing his work, you knew no one was pushing him out the door, and yet Leiter has announced he is leaving.

The reason is his son, Jack, is a senior in high school, and he is committed to Vanderbilt. If Jack is anything like his father, his uncle Mark Leiter, or even his cousin also named Mark Leiter, he has a real Major League future ahead of him. If that is the case, Al Leiter is going to be in New Jersey doing work for the MLB Network, or he will be in the Bronx, or he will find himself anywhere where the Yankees travel.

That does not leave him much time to watch his son pitch during his senior season. It doesn’t give him time to give parental advice to help prepare his son for college or even the draft. It doesn’t leave enough time for him to spend time with his son because his son finds himself in places like Tennesse, whether that is for college or for an Appalachian League affiliate.

In his career, Leiter made approximately $68 million. He’s done a fine job as a broadcaster presumably earning a good salary. With his reputation and his relatively young age (53), Leiter has the chance to do this. This is all every parent wants, and Leiter has that opportunity. Good for him for taking full advantage.

When he’s ready to return, there could be a chance for him at SNY as the Mets have begun taking more of a look at the 90’s Mets team. We have seen Todd Zeile recently hired to replace Nelson Figueroa and Bob Ojeda before him. Sooner or later, we know Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling are going to leave the Mets booth.

Maybe, there will be room for a new booth with Gary, Leiter, and Mike Piazza. It would be the type of booth which could generate the same chemistry and cache with Mets fans. And who knows, maybe we will see Leiter calling games his son is pitching.

But before then, let’s hope the best for Jack Leiter and hope Al enjoys each and every minute of the ride.