Mike Baxter

Bright Spots In Lost Mets Seasons

The New York Mets have had a number of down seasons with 2018 being one of them.  There were some bright spots this past season with Jacob deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball being one of them.  This is reminiscent of how many times we have seen different Mets players have great seasons in what has been an otherwise lost season for the franchise.

The last time we saw anything like deGrom’s season happen was R.A. Dickey‘s 2012 season.  While the knuckleballer had been better than expected for a few years, no one could see him winning 20 games let alone beating out Clayton Kershaw, who was still in his prime, for the Cy Young Award.

While it was Dickey who won the Cy Young Award, it was Johan Santana who captured the hearts of Mets fans by pitching the first no-hitter in Mets history.  Special mention needs to go here for Mike Baxter‘s catch.

In 2004, Mike Piazza passed a significant career milestone by hitting his 352nd career homer as a catcher.  With the home run, he passed Carlton Fisk, and he all but cemented his Hall of Fame case by hitting the most home runs as a catcher.

Another Mets catcher who set a home run record was Todd Hundley.  In 1996, his 41 homers would not just match a Mets single season record, but it would also pass Roy Campanella‘s single season record for most homers by a catcher.  That season saw a number of feats including Bernard Gilkey setting the Mets single-season record for doubles and Lance Johnson setting the record for most triples in a season.  Remarkably, all three of these Mets records stand to this day.

On the final game of the 1991 season, which was the Mets first losing season since 1983, David Cone tied the then National League record with 19 strikeouts in a game.  It was a feat which had only been previously met by Mets legend Tom Seaver.

Speaking of that 1983 season, Darryl Strawberry would become the first and to this date only Mets position player to ever win the Rookie of the Year Award.  The 1983 season was also notable because after the Midnight Massacre, Seaver would finally come home to the Mets.

Really, it was that 1983 season which was the beginning of something special with the Mets.  In addition to Strawberry and Seaver, the Mets called-up rookie starter Ron Darling.  Much like how he is joined in the SNY booth now by Keith Hernandez, he was teammates with Hernandez that season because the Mets would make a franchise altering trade to acquire the former MVP.

Really, when you look at 1983, you can see how even a bad year is the building block towards a team building a World Series winning club.  Hopefully, that is what the 2018 season was for the Mets.

You can argue it was the case with deGrom emerging as the best pitcher in baseball, and Zack Wheeler matching him big start for big start in the second half.  Brandon Nimmo had the second highest wRC+ among National League outfielders, and Michael Conforto returned to being Michael Conforto in the second half.  More than that, Amed Rosario seemed to turn the corner while his new double play partner, Jeff McNeil, burst onto the scene.

In the end, when you look at losing seasons like 2018, you can see great things.  More than that, you can see how great things will soon be in store for the Mets.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Promotions Mets Should Have in 2018

On Sunday, I published a tongue-in-cheek recommendation as to what promotions the Mets should have during the 2018 season.  The original concept of the post was the Mets promotional schedule feels like it is lacking this year, and the team should be looking for better ways to honor their players.

With that in mind, I asked the Mets Blogger Roundtable what promotions they would like to see the Mets institute during the 2018 season:

Michael Baron (MLB.com)

The Mets should re-introduce Old Timers Day. Promotions are nice, but they generally consist of things which either break, get lost, forgotten, or all three. Old Timers Day can be traditional and memorable as fans connect emotionally with the players. Sure, there’s no sponsored bobble head doll, hat, or a fidget spinner that goes with it – sometimes the greatest souvenir can be reconnecting with the past, which is why what such a day would be so great for everyone involved.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

There was a character on “Rick and Morty” called “Mr. Meeseeks.” He lived only to fix one problem of yours before ceasing to exist. He wanted to cease to be, is the thing – his catch phrase is “Existence is pain!” Naturally, some unknown hero on the internet created a “Mr. Metseeks.” My interpretation of Mr. Metseeks is Mr. Metseeks cannot die until the Mets win the World Series. We all started kind, then have only grown more bitter, and increasing irritated over the years, when the Mets did not fulfill their destiny. We are all Mr. Metseeks. Let’s have an action figure of ourselves some Saturday in 2018. Why? Because a “Jay Brews” shirt sends the wrong message to the youths.

Ernest Dove (MMO & MMN)

As a South Florida resident and fan of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, I can’t help but suggest the MLB Mets model the St. Lucie Mets with $1 beer $1 hot dog night. With ticket prices continuing to skyrocket, I think it would be a great idea for Mets to win over their fans with a night of cheap food and drinks.  I’m not suggesting bottles of beer. I’m talking $1 plastic cups here. It might pack the place.  And along with the obvious on the alcohol, this would also allow for parents to ensure all their kids are fed. Do it!

Michael Ganci (Daily Stache)

As for a promotion that I would like to bring back, could you imagine if they reincarnated the Pepsi Porch idea? Remember when you could bring a bottle of Pepsi and gain entry? My father and I did that a zillion times growing up, and I almost got killed by a Kevin Orie home run. It encourages more fans to come, and I’m sure the Mets can afford to designate a section, but the sponsor would obviously have to be Coca Cola, since we now have the Coca Cola Corner.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Old Timer’s Day; as a kid I always loved Mets Old Timer’s Day, and frankly, I miss it dearly.

In 2009, the New York Times quoted then-Mets executive Dave Howard: “It was particularly unpopular as a promotion. We didn’t see an increase in ticket sales or interest from sponsors or even from people who already had tickets. It died of its own unpopularity in the early ’90s. We felt we were better served by bringing our alumni back over several days instead of one day.”

Now, I liked Dave Howard, nice guy, but that statement was crap. a) outside of a rare 1986 tribute when the hell do the Mets ever “bring their alumni back?”

Maybe be creative? Maybe call it “Amazin Day,” and combine the old Photo Day with an autograph day, have the former Mets like Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry, Art Shamsky, Mookie Wilson, Rusty Staub, Edgardo Alfonzo, Mike Piazza, Felix Millan, etc. gather at Citi Field and have a Mets fan’s dream of a day? Yeah, it would cost money, but it’d be sold out and there are a thousand marketing ideas that would make it a must-have ticket (and memorabilia money maker) every year!

The idea that Mets fans wouldn’t embrace a day to celebrate their team’s history is ridiculous.

I wish it was only a cost-effectiveness issue.  But it’s not. Frankly, the Mets can’t even send out a promo video without doing something dumb like trying to avoid the existence of a 20-game winner who just won the organizations first Cy Young Award in almost 30 years. It is the fear of ridicule, of blowback, and of honest feedback from a fanbase that’s tired of the losing and the stupidity. In 1989, Davey Johnson was omitted from the list of some two dozen people invited to Old-Timers’ Day.

Why? If the Old-Timers’ Day crowd cheered Johnson, would the Mets’ front office and Harrelson be embarrassed? If the crowd booed him, would he be embarrassed? Like many, many, many others have said many, many, many times, the Wilpons and by extension, their PR and Marketing departments lack a cohesive link to their smartest and most loyal fans. Maybe it’s time to listen to a few of them.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

Replace Free Shirt Fridays with Funko Fridays. All fans in attendance will receive a Mets Funko toy, designed by me of course.

Bring back Banner Day. Not the half-hearted Banner Day at ten in the morning. Scheduled doubleheader, banners in between games. With a full crowd to watch.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Specific to 2018, I would love to see the Mets honor Buddy Harrelson while he can enjoy it. Invite him to throw out the first pitch before a full house on Opening Day; have a day or night in his honor, with his contemporaries on hand; give out a Buddy bobblehead, tied in to raising funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s research. The sooner the better.

In a broader sense, dedicate a day or two every season to an all-time vintage Met who deserves (at least) one more torrent of appreciation. The template should be Ralph Kiner Night in 2007, presented for no reason other than we loved Ralph Kiner. It’s the kind of thing that infuses the honoree and the fans with an unbeatable feeling.

It should go without saying that the Mets can and should do more to blend their history into their promotional activities. That’s putting it mildly.

James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)

I don’t have any grand wisdom to offer as far as promotions go, but I do know which ones I’ve liked. A few years ago, in April 2014, I believe, the Mets, one game, gave away Shea Stadium canvas prints. I still have mine; it’s fantastic. I’m sure it’ll go up on the wall one day. I’d love to see more of these — hell, I’d love a canvas print of every guy on the roster. Again, there’s no long-winded reasoning here; I just think it was a great item.

Mets Daddy

Look, I think it is pretty clear the Mets are not going to have an Old Timers Day.  It doesn’t matter how much the Mets fans clamor for it; it’s not going to happen.  However, that doesn’t mean the Mets can’t find another way to give the fans what they want while simultaneously spreading out days they bring back former Mets.

Back in 2012, I attended a game with my family, and as I walked through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, I was shocked to see Darryl Strawberry signing autographs.  It seemed too good to be true, and it was slightly.  In order to get an autograph, you had to purchase a box of gummy candies, which were being sold by the Darryl Strawberry Foundation in support of autism research.  Being completely unprepared for the moment, I went into the team store, and I purchased a stuffed Home Run apple.  To this day, one of the coolest autographs I have is an autographed Home Run Apple from the Mets all-time home run leader.

This is something the Mets should look to do once a week.  Bring back an old player and have them sign autographs in the rotunda.  Like with Strawberry, you can tie it into a charitable purpose.  It doesn’t even need to be the best players like Johan Santana.  If you think about it, there should be a line to Corona of Mets fans who just want to shake Mike Baxter‘s hand for making the catch which kept Santana’s no-hitter alive.

This is great for fans who want to meet their favorite players, take a picture, and get an autograph.  It’s also great for the Mets because they will get a mad rush to their team store for people looking to buy something for that player to sign.  Really, this needs to happen.

I want to thank the various writers for taking the time out to participate in these roundtables and for presenting some truly inspired ideas.   You can read more of their original and interesting work on their respective sites.  Please take a look by clicking on the link to their sites.