MIke Piazza

Mets All Eclipse Team

With the solar eclipse happening, now is as good as any to create a Mets All-Time Solar Eclipse Team.  These are players who are included due to their names and not because of their exploits.  For example, the will be no Mike Piazza for his moon shots, or Luis Castillo for his losing a ball in the moon.

SP – Tim Redding

He is the great nephew of Joyce Randoph of Honeymooners fame where Ralph threatened to send Alice right to the moon,.

C – Chris Cannizzaro 

Cannizzaro is the name of a lunar crater

1B – Lucas Duda

Lucas means light giving

2B –Neil Walker

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon

3B – Ray Knight

Pretty self explanatory, first sun rays, and then night.

SS – Asdrubal Cabrera

Asdrubal means helped by Baal.  Baal is a moon god

OF – Kevin Mitchell

Mitchell was one of the 12 men to walk on the moon

OF – Don Hahn

Hahn means rooster, which is an animal that crows at sunrise.

OF – Victor Diaz

His first and last name combined translate to day conqueror, which is effectively what the eclipse does.

Interview with Kurt Horne

During the June 24th game between the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Hudson Valley Renegades, I was on the field as my father and son threw out the first pitch.  During that time, I had the opportunity to meet Cyclones left-handed pitcher Kurt Horne.

The British Columbia native was the Mets 2014 31st round draft pick.  The tall left-hander eschewed an opportunity to pitch in college.  Instead, at the age of 17, Horne decided to not only sign with the Mets, but to move to the complete opposite end of the continent to fulfill his dream of becoming a Major League Baseball player.  Horne agreed to do an interview with me to discuss his path to the Mets organization and his development in the minor leagues.

The natural question to start for someone from Canada is why baseball and not hockey?

Ha ha!  Of course, I grew up in a baseball family, I followed after my brother, doing everything he did.I also used to play in the backyard with my grandpa hitting Wiffle balls everyday after school when I was younger, so baseballs in my blood.

So at 6’5″ you were the little brother?

Well, my brother is 6 years older then me, so it took a while to catch up.

I take it your brother was a good baseball player in his own right.

Absolutely, he was a good pitcher when he was younger but grew up to be a better hitter.

You ever have a chance to pitch against him?

No, unfortunately not; it would’ve been a awesome experience.

When did you start pitching?

I was around 6 or 7 years old when I started to pitch.
How would you describe yourself as a pitcher?
Not over powering.  I’m more of a finesse pitcher. I mostly use my sinker to get weak contact and a change up to keep hitters off balance.
How have you progressed as a pitcher during your four years in the Mets organization?

I’ve learned a lot about the game: How to read hitters; how to mix my pitches better.  I’ve really learned how to actually pitch rather than just following what the catcher calls.

What are the things you need to work on to improve and help yourself get to the next level?

I need to make my delivery more consistent so I can throw strikes more consistently, and I need to be able to spin a breaking ball for a strike.  And that will help me advance.

When Mets fans hear breaking ball, they immediately think “Warthen Slider.” Is that a pitch they’ve introduced to you, or are you working on other pitches?

I haven’t worked on a slider much – really trying to focus on a short curveball that’s easier to throw.

Your pitching coach, former Met Royce Ring, used one in the majors. Is there anything particular he’s shown you to make it a more effective pitch?

We’ve just been working on making it a fastball until the last possible second and finding the right release point.

Now, you’ve had a different experience than most minor league pitchers in that you’ve had Ring as your pitching coach during different stops. How has working mostly with one person helped or hurt you?

It’s helped with getting consistent feedback.  We’re able to communicate really well now so we are both on the same page, and we know what my goals are moving forward. But being in extended spring, there’s other coaches around, so I like to here some other feedback for things to think about.

What are your goals moving forward?

To minimize my amount of walks, and do a better job of getting ahead in the count.

You’ve been predominantly used as a reliever. Do you see yourself as a reliever, or do you believe you could be a starter?

I just see myself pitching, whether it be a reliever or starter is up to the team. I feel I have the ability to do both.

Overall, who has had the biggest impact on your career?

My Parents and brother without a doubt. They push me to be better day in and day out and did everything in their power to help me get to where I am today.

Specifically, how has your family impacted you in your career as a baseball player?

My family impacted me from the beginning.  From introducing me to the sport, watching my brother playing, having my dad who studies the game more than anyone I know and my mom went everywhere I went to support me when I played.  I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family.

Outside of your family, who else has had an impact on you?

I also learned a lot from my pitching coach Marty Hall, who along with my parents helped me become who I am.

I grew up watching and then participating in his baseball clinics, he is a very close family friend who I consider to be family.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received how to succeed as a pitcher and make it to the major leagues?

Have a short memory.  Focus on one pitch at a time.  Have a routine, and most importantly, have fun.

What’s it like pitching in New York?

Pitching in Brooklyn has been amazing.  I love stadium.  The fans are all into the games, I love it!

What has been your favorite memory as a baseball player?

It’s hard to pick just one.  Playing for the Canadian junior national team was amazing, and being selected by the Mets in the first year player draft was a dream come true.

Who was your favorite player growing up?

I always wore 13 because of Billy Wagner, and I couldn’t get it with Team Canada so I wore #31. It also stuck because I’m a Jon Lester fan.

It does take courage to wear Mike Piazza‘s number in New York.  Big shoes to fill there.

Of course!  Now, when it comes to it I’ll wear 13, but I had the option so I went with it.

Last year, former Mets minor leaguer Nicco Blank made a name for himself for leaving tickets for Taylor Swift to see him pitch. What famous person would you like to come see you pitch?

Ha ha!  That’s a good question.  I’m gonna say Drake because he’s Canadian, and he’s one of my favorite artists.

On a personal note, how was my son’s first pitch?

He hit me right on the glove, so I’d say it was perfect.  Plus extra points for being left-handed.

Personally, I want to thank Horne for taking the time for this interview, and for the time he spent with my father and son when they threw out the first pitch.  For those that want to follow him, his Twitter handle is @AroundTheHorne_.

I Still Have Hope . . . Sandy Shouldn’t

After a sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, fans could allow themselves hope for the 2017 season again.  Yes, the Giants are a dreadful team, but there was a lot to like about the Mets in that series.  If you dig deeper, there is still things to like about this Mets team.

Jacob deGrom is in a stretch where he has gone at least eight innings in three consecutive starts.  This could be the best stretch of his career, which is certainly saying something.

Rafael Montero has now had three consecutive strong outings allowing just two earned runs over his last 14.1 inning pitched. In this stretch, he not only finally looks like a major league pitcher, he looks like a good major league pitcher.

Curtis Granderson has been the best hitting National League outfielder in the month of June (204 wRC+), and he’s been hitting .297/.408/.595 with 13 doubles, two triples, nine homers, and 23 RBI since May 1st.

Jay Bruce has been resurgent hitting .315/.358/.629 with four doubles, eight homers, and 17 RBI.  He’s on pace for his first 40 home run season and just his second 100 RBI season.

While acting unprofessional about the switch to second base in the clubhouse, Asdrubal Cabrera has been nothing but professional on the field going 7-14 in the series and playing a very good second base. 

Lucas Duda is flat out raking hitting .375/.474/.813 over the past week, and as we know when Duda gets hot like this, he can carry the team for a long stretch.  Just ask the 2015 Nationals.

Lost in all of that is Yoenis Cespedes being Cespedes, Addison Reed being a dominant closer, and Seth Lugo stabilizing the rotation.  There is even the specter of David Wright returning to the lineup.  When you combine that with the Mets schedule, this team is primed to reel off nine straight wins.

If the Mets were to win nine straight, they would be just one game under .500.  At that point, the Mets will be red hot heading to another big series in Washington.  Last time the teams played there, the Mets took two of three.  After that is a bad Cardinals team before the All Star Break.

Combine this hypothetical Mets run with a Rockies team losing six straight, and the Mets are right back in the mix with a bunch of teams hovering around .500 for a shot at the postseason.  Last year, the Mets were under .500 as late as August 19th, and they still made the postseason.  Throw in a potential Amed Rosario call up, and you really have things cooking.  Why not this year’s team?

Well, that’s easy.  The bullpen is a mess.  You have no idea when Noah Syndergaard and Neil Walker can return if they can return at all.  Jose Reyes is playing everyday.  The route to the postseason partially relies upon Montero being a good major league pitcher, and the Mets calling up Rosario.  At this point, those are two things no one should rely.

As a fan?  We should all enjoy the ride for as long as it will carry us.  As Mets fans, we have seen miracles.  We saw this team win in 1969.  We saw a team dead in the water in 1973 go all the way to game seven of the World Series.  We watched a Mookie Wilson grounder pass through Bill Buckner‘s legs.  We saw Mike Piazza homer in the first game in New York after 9/11.

As fans, we can hold out hope for the impossible.  We can dream.  Sandy doesn’t have that luxury.  He needs to look at the reality of the Mets situation and make the best moves he possibly can.  That includes trading Bruce, Duda, Granderson, and any other veteran who can get him a good return on the trade market.

That still shouldn’t stop us from dreaming.  Who knows?  Maybe Rosario, Gavin Cecchini, and Dominic Smith can led the Mets to the postseason after Sandy is done selling.

Trivia Friday – Best Players The Mets Ever Drafted

The Mets have added a whole other draft class and with them comes hope they will become great players that will lead the team to another World Series.  They were close with Michael Conforto in 2015, and hopefully, they will be close again.

Overall, many will tell you the draft is a crap shoot.  Sometimes the best player you draft is towards the end of the draft.  The Dodgers can tell you about that with Mike Piazza.  Other times, you draft the incredible talent, but you are unable to sign him to a deal.  He re-enters the draft, and you see him go and succeed elsewhere.  Worse yet, you do sign him, and you trade him before he figures it out.

In any event, the New York Mets have been drafting since 1965.  Can you name the 10 best players the Mets have ever drafted?  Good luck!


 

ESPN’s Intentionally Bad Baseball Coverage

As part of the unfortunate layoffs at ESPN this past week, their baseball coverage was gutted.  One of the top baseball reporters there is, Jayson Stark, was let go.  In addition, Baseball Tonight contributors Doug Glanville, Dallas Braden, and Raul Ibanez were also let go.  In fact, Baseball Tonight is essentially no more.  What was once one of the top shows covering baseball is now a once a week pre-game show for ESPN’s Sunday Night Game.

While you can certainly argue Baseball Tonight is not what is used to be, it still provided quality coverage.  Yes, Baseball Tonight was harmed by the MLB Network both in terms of the depth of coverage and the quality of analysts.  Still, Baseball Tonight mattered and had really good nights.  That’s no more.

In place of Baseball Tonight, ESPN has opted to go with Intentional Talk as its daily baseball coverage.  Both ESPN and MLB Network will air the show.  For a network that values First Take and Pardon the Interruption over good reporting, this should be no surprise.

Intentional Talk is as bad as it gets.  It’s just Charlie Rose and Kevin Millar with forced humor.  As usual, forced humor isn’t funny.  It’s what made the 2013 All Star and Legends Celebrity Softball game almost unbearable.

It should have been a lot of fun.  You had Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, John Franco, and Mike Piazza on the same field.  There was also former Met Rickey Henderson playing.  Comedian Kevin James stole the show by taking the game way too seriously.  Over all of this was Rose and Millar doing play-by-play.  It was awful, not funny, and the worst thing there was at Citi Field that year during a season where Matt Harvey had a season ending injury.

The addition of Intentional Talk to ESPN is a reminder they do not care about good coverage or baseball for that matter.  They mostly care about personalities, and Millar was a memorable one from his playing days.  It doesn’t matter that the show isn’t good or watchable.  The only thing that matters is it isn’t Baseball Tonight.

Overall, the biggest loss we might have seen from the ESPN layoffs was them essentially announcing they are ceasing their high quality baseball coverage.  That’s a shame.

A Win So Improbable Edgin Got The Save

So without Yoenis Cespedes and with Max Scherzer in the mound, the Mets really had no chance to beat the Nationals, right?  Well, at least for one night, it was no Yo no problem. 

With Cespedes out, someone had to replace him as the spark plug in the Mets offense. Tonight, Travis d’Arnaud was d’Man. In the second inning, his no doubt blast gave the Mets their first lead in over nine games:

Intersting enough, do you remember the last time the Mets had a lead in a game?  

https://twitter.com/studi_metsimus/status/858101051030990852

Unfortunately, that lead was short lived. In the bottom of the second, Jacob deGrom first allowed a solo home run to Ryan Zimmerman and then a two run homer to Matt Wieters. The Mets short lived 2-0 lead became a 3-2 deficit. From, there it was all Mets. 

deGrom settled in and started mowing down the Nationals. He didn’t allow another run in the final five innings he pitched. He was terrific striking out 12 while allowing those three runs. For the first time in nine games, he was a Mets pitcher that recorded a win. He was the first Mets starter to record a win since Zack Wheeler got the win on April 12th. 

He got the win because his battery mate made sure he had enough run support:

It was d’Arnaud’s first five RBI game of his career. He once again showed his offensive potential on a night reminiscent of Mike Piazza. He even had a 445 foot blast like Piazza used to do. 

The Mets then got to the Nationals bullpen in the eighth. It was a refreshing change after a terrible Nationals bullpen dominated the Mets batters at Citi Field. 

Jose Reyes led off the inning with a double off Jacob Turner. He moved to third on a fielder’s choice by T.J. Rivera. With Zimmerman coming off the bag, the Mets had runners at the corners with no outs. The Mets would then load the bases when d’Arnaud worked out a walk. 
Kevin Plawecki then pinch hit for deGrom and hit an RBI single through the drawn in infield. Yes, it did really happen. Michael Conforto made it 7-3 when he worked out a bases loaded walk. 
The damage would be limited there as Asdrubal Cabrera hit into the 3-2-4 double play, and Jay Bruce grounded out. Still, the Mets got two insurance runs. It turns out they needed them. 

Jerry Blevins came on to start the eighth, and he allowed a one out single to Trea Turner. After he struck out Bryce Harper, Collins turned to Addison Reed to get out of the inning. 
Reed was greeted by Zimmerman’s second homer of the game. Things got tense when Daniel Murphy ripped a single, and Reyes made an error allowing Anthony Rendon to reach. Reed was struggling, but bore down and got a huge strikeout of Jayson Werth to get out of the jam. 

This set the stage for Jeurys Familia to record his first save of the season. 

It wasn’t easy as the Nationals immediately loaded the bases off Familia with three straight singles to lead off the inning. The last one was an Adam Eaton infield single Reyes should’ve played but let go to Cabrera. While Reyes had a good night at the plate going 2-4 with two runs, a walk, double, and a stolen base, he was poor in the field again. 

With Eaton coming up lame on the play, Dusty Baker had to use three pinch runners in the inning. Believe it or not, that wasn’t the panic move of the game. 

After Familia struck out Turner, Terry Collins went to Josh Edgin to pitch to Harper. Somehow it worked with Edgin getting Harper to hit into the 1-2-3 double play. On a night where the Mets got an improbable win, why not Edgin recording the save there?  

Game Notes: With the Cespedes injury, Bruce returned to his familiar RF. The plan is to go with Rivera at first until Lucas Duda, who just began his rehab assignment, is ready to come off the DL. Reyes is heating up going six for his last 14 with a HR. Granderson is in a 1-22 funk and now has a lower batting average than Reyes. 

Americas Past Time May Become New York’s Sport

The greatest player, Babe Ruth, built his legend in New York.  Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in New York.  We still wax poetic about Willie, Mickey, and the Duke.

New York is the home of some of the greatest games ever played.  Bobby Thompson hit the shot heard round the world, and Mookie Wilson hit a little dribbler up the first base line.

Teams that are based in New York have won 35 World Series.  This is the most amount of championships belonging to any city in any sport.

Despite the largely debunked story about the origins of baseball, the Baseball Hall of Fame was built and placed in Cooperstown, New York.  Naturally, New York teams have the most amount of Hall of Famers.

If baseball is American’s Past Time then New York is its heart and soul.  And yet, it took a class of fourth graders from Cooperstown to make the case baseball should be the official sport of the State of New York.

In a report from The Citizen, Ms. Anne Reis’ fourth grade class did the research and made the case that baseball should be the official sport of New York as part of a lesson on official New York State designations.  They provided their findings to their local state senator Jim Seward.

Seward has taken the information, and now he has proposed a bill in the legislature to designate baseball as the official sport of New York.  Such efforts should thrill baseball fans everywhere.  Undoubtedly, it was a special moment for Ms. Reis’ class.

Upon her now former students hearing the news, Ms. Reis said, “”They’re thrilled.  They’re in fifth grade at this point, so I went downstairs and went to all the different classrooms and let them know what had happened.”

Hopefully, this designation will become official.  We all know how important baseball is to the state.  We need not look any further than the importance of Mike Piazza‘s home run in the first game back in New York after the terror attacks of 9/11.  Baseball matters, and it matters more in New York than anywhere.

These kids know that, and they did something about it.  These children accomplished something by putting in the requisite time and research.  It’s a testament to them, and it is a good example for people everywhere.

Three Current Mets and Their Hall of Fame Outlook

The Hall of Fame inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez in what should be the first of many Hall of Fame classes we see without a Mets player being inducted.  The Mets had to wait 23 years between the elections of Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza.  Depending on which hat Carlos Beltran selects when he is likely inducted into the Hall of Fame, the Mets may be waiting even longer than that.  How long the Mets wait may depend on the Hall of Fame worthiness of one of the players currently on the Mets roster.  Here are some players with a chance to be Hall of Famers one day:

#1 David Wright

Career Stats: .296/.376/.491, 949 R, 1,777 H, 390 2B, 26 3B, 242 HR, 970 RBI, 196 SB

Awards: 7X All-Star, 2X Gold Glove, 2X Silver Slugger

Advanced Stats: 49.9 WAR, 133 OPS+, 133 wRC+

Hall of Fame Metrics: 40.0 WAR7, 45.0 JAWS

The Case For: With his spinal stenosis, Wright has been that rare breed of player that not only spends his whole career with one team, but also winds up owning almost all of a team’s offensive records.  At this point in time, he is the career leader in runs, hits, doubles, and RBI.  He is only 10 behind Darryl Strawberry for the team home run lead.  It is rare that with a franchise in as existence as long as the Mets that the team’s best ever offensive player is not inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Superlatives aside, there is a statistical foundation for Wright’s induction.  His 133 OPS+ would be the sixth best by a Hall of Fame third baseman putting him ahead of the likes of Wade Boggs and Ron Santo.  His 133 wRC+ would be the third best among third base Hall of Famers with him trailing just Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, and Home Run Baker.  His OBP would be the fifth best among Hall of Fame third baseman putting him ahead of the likes of George Brett.  His slugging would be third among Hall of Fame third baseman putting him ahead of players like Brooks Robinson.

No matter how you look at it, Wright has been a top five to top ten third baseman all-time.  As seen with his Gold Gloves, he is one of the more complete players we have ever seen at the position.

The Case Against: Due in large part of the spinal stenosis, Wright’s peak was not as high as it would be for a traditional Hall of Famer.  In fact his WAR, WAR7, and JAWS trail the 67.5/42.7/55.1 an average Hall of Fame third baseman has accumulated in their career.  In fact, Wright trails  Robin Ventura in WAR and JAWS, and Ventura didn’t garner the 5% necessary to stay on the ballot.  Overall, while you can say that Wright at his peak was one of the best third baseman ever, his peak did not last long, and he become too injury prone to put together a great career.

Verdict:  Fortunately for Wright, he still has time to put up some more numbers to help bolster his Hall of Fame chances.  However, with his spinal stenosis and now cervical fusion, it is hard to imagine him putting up positive WAR seasons that will move the meter enough to classify him as a Hall of Famer.

#2 Yoenis Cespedes

Career Stats: .272/.325/.494, 406 R, 743 H, 149 2B, 22 3B, 137 HR, 453 RBI, 40 SB

Awards: 2X All-Star, 1X Gold Glove, 1X Silver Slugger

Advanced Stats: 18.7 WAR, 124 OPS+, 123 wRC+

Hall of Fame Metrics: 18.7 WAR7, 18.7 JAWS

The Case For: Unlike Wright, who is winding down is career, Cespedes, 31, seems to have quality years ahead of him.  The belief in the possibility of becoming a Hall of Famer started on August 1, 2015, which is the first time he set foot in the batter’s box as a member of the New York Mets.  Cespedes had the type of finish to the 2015 season people will talk about for years to come.  In the final 57 games of the season, Cespedes hit 17 homers and 44 RBI.  The Mets went from being three games over .500 and two games out of the division to finishing the season on a 37-22 run and winning the division by seven games.  In his Mets career, the Mets are 110-79 with him in the lineup, and a game under .500 when he is not.  Simply put, Cespedes is a difference maker.

He’s also a completely different player.  From 2012 – 2014, Cespedes was a .263/.316/.464 hitter who averaged 24 homers and 87 RBI.  Since coming to the Mets, Cespedes is a .282/.348/.554 hitter who has a 162 game average of 42 homers and 119 RBI.  Before becoming a Met, he averaged 3.1 WAR per season.  In 2015, his first truly great season, he posted a 6.3 WAR.  Last season, in part due to his injuries and his playing out of position, he regressed back to a 2.9 WAR.  With him returning to left field, where he is a Gold Glover, he should return to being a player who can post six WAR seasons.  If so, Cespedes has a shot of clearing the 65.1 WAR, 41.5 WAR7, and 53.3 JAWS an average Hall of Fame left fielder has accumulated.

The Case Against: Cespedes is already 31 years old, and to ask him to put forth five more MVP level type seasons is unrealistic.  The unfortunate truth is Cespedes may have gotten too late a start to his career due to his being born in Cuba, played at a horrendous ballpark in O.co Stadium for a player of his skill set too long, and he became a much improved hitter too late in his career.

Verdict: Unfortunately, Cespedes didn’t do enough early in his career, and it is not likely he’s going to be a truly great player into his mid to late 30s.  Overall, is going to go down as a beloved Met, but much like Keith Hernandez, he is going to fall short.

#3 Noah Syndergaard

Career Stats: 23-16, 2.89 ERA, 55 G, 54 GS, 333.2 IP, 384 K, 1.103 WHIP, 10.4 K/9

Awards: 1X All Star

Advanced Stats: 137 ERA+, 2.72 FIP, 7.4 WAR

The Case For: In some sense, Syndergaard represents the trio that includes him, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom.  The reason why Syndergaard was selected was he is the youngest, has a fastball that gets over 100 MPH, and he is the only one without any injuries in his young career.  Naturally, like with any young pitcher, health is going to be the key.

Last season, we saw Syndergaard scratch the surface of what he can be as a starter.  He not only posts high strikeout numbers, but he generally induces weak contact.  In fact, his 0.5 HR/9 was the best mark in the major leagues last year.  Not so coincidentally, so was his 2.29 FIP.  To cap off the season, Syndergaard pitched in a do-or-die Wild Card Game against Madison Bumgarner, who is the best big game pitcher we have in baseball.  Syndergaard not only matched him scoreless inning for scoreless inning, he also out-pitched Bumgarner for those seven innings.

Syndergaard has slowly been moving from one of the most talented pitchers in the game to one of the best pitchers in the game.  At 23, we can expect him to have many great seasons, and quite possibly multiple Cy Young awards.  Really, at this point in his career, anything is possible.

The Case Against: That’s the problem with anything being possible.  At one point in time Dwight Gooden was a no-doubt Hall of Famer.  In fact, Gooden’s 1985 season was one of the greatest regular seasons a starting pitcher has ever had.  However, as we know Gooden never made the Hall of Fame.  Yes, much of that had to do with Gooden’s drug problems, but it should also be noted Gooden dealt with arm injuries as well.  He probably threw too many innings at an early age, and he would eventually needed shoulder surgery.  This as much as anything had to do with Gooden’s career falling apart.

Besides Gooden, you can name any number of pitchers who went from great to broken.  That’s the nature of pitching.

Verdict: Syndergaard not only has the talent, but he also has the drive to be truly great.  As long as luck holds out, and he listens to his body, like he did last year, Syndergaard should remain healthy putting him in good position to make a run at the Hall of Fame.

Put Gary Cohen In the Mets Hall of Fame

During this offseason, the Mets were put in a somewhat peculiar position.  Longtime Mets announcer and play-by-play man, Gary Cohen, was a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award.  This would have meant that Cohen would have found himself enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame before he was inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Now, it should be noted the Ford C. Frick Award is not technically being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  As the Baseball Hall of Fame  notes, “The Ford C. Frick Award is presented annually during Hall of Fame Weekend. Each award recipient (not to be confused with an inductee) is presented with a calligraphy of the award and is recognized in the “Scribes & Mikemen” exhibit in the Library of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”  With that caveat, for many receiving the award is commensurate with an announcer being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Cohen ultimately did not received the award, you know it is only a matter of time before he receives it.  As any Mets fan that listened to him on the radio from 1989 – 2005, or on SNY from 2006 until the present, Cohen is the best in the business.  For those unaware, he is a compilation of some of his best calls in a number of the best moments in Mets history:

The Todd Pratt Home Run:

I particularly like this one due to the comparison to Chris Berman

The Robin Ventura Grand Slam Single:

The Endy Chavez Catch:

The Mike Piazza home-run capping off the 10 run inning against the Braves:

The Johan Santana n0-hitter:

The Wilmer Flores walk-off home-run:

And while, it was not the greatest moment in Mets history, his call on the Bartolo Colon home run is as good a call as you are going to hear anywhere:

There are several calls that you can choose from him because Cohen is just that good a broadcaster.  It’s a testament to him that he made the transition from being quite possibly the best play-by-play announcer in all of baseball to being great as a television announcer on SNY.  They are different mediums, and he seemingly made the seamless switch to describing each and every part of the action to sitting back and let the moment speak for itself.  He has also given room for both Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez to shine in their roles as color commentators.

Whether, it is his screaming “IT’S OUTTA HERE!” or “THE BALLGAME IS OVER!” Cohen has a way of not only capturing the emotion of the big moment, he also has a way of making them seem bigger.  With that said, there is another big moment in Mets history he should not be there to call.  That would be the day he is inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Put Bobby Valentine in the Mets Hall of Fame

It has been almost 15 years since Bobby Valentine has managed the Mets, and because of how history works, the enduring image we have of Bobby V is the time he came back into the dugout with sunglasses and a fake mustache made with eye back after he had been thrown out of a game.  Bobby V was much more than that.

After a disappointing player career that included two forgettable seasons with the Mets, Valentine became a coach.  In 1983, he was named the third base coach for the George Bamberger led Mets.  Despite Bamberger not lasting the season, and General Manager Frank Cashen cleaning house, the Mets decided to keep Valentine when Davey Johnson was hired.  From 1983 – 1985, Valentine was generally regarded as a very good third base coach, who helped in the development of a young Mets team from cellar dwellers to contenders.  He would be hired as the Texas Rangers manager, and he would miss all of the 1986 season. 

After his stint in Texas, a brief stop in Norfolk, and one in Japan, the Mets brought Bobby V back to the organization for the 1996 season.  Initially, he was named as the manager of the Tides.   However, after Dallas Green had finally run through all of the young arms on the team, Valentine was named the interim manager for the final 31 games of the season.  In the offseason, the interim tag would be removed, and he would start the 1997 season as the Mets manager.

The 1997 Mets were THE surprise team in all of baseball.  Despite a starting rotation that was comprised of Rick Reed, Dave Mlicki, Bobby Jones, Mark Clark, Brian Bohanon, and Armando Reynoso, the Mets would go from a 71 win team to an 88 win team.  Now, there were good seasons for the turnaround.  There was the acquisition of John Olerud.  There was also another strong season from Lance Johnson, and Todd Hundley proved his record setting 41 home run 1996 season was no fluke.  However, there were other factors at play, and they were directly related to the manger.

First, Edgardo Alfonzo was made the everyday third baseman instead of the utility player he was under Green.  Also, while Reed had started the season coming out of the bullpen, Bobby V moved him into the rotation.  Additionally, whereas Green’s calling card was to abuse his starters’ arms, Valentine protected his starters’ arms (his starters averaged six innings per start and less), and he used the bullpen to his advantage.  On a more subjective note, this was a team that played harder and was more sound fundamentally.  It was a team that probably played over their heads for much of the season.

One important note from this season, Mlicki threw a complete game shut-out against the Yankees in the first ever Subway Series game.  While the Mets were overmatched in terms of talent in that three game series, Bobby V had that group ready to play, and they very nearly took the three game set from the Yankees.

With the Mets having overachieved, the front office led by General Manager Steve Phillips gave his manager some reinforcements.  The team would acquire Al Leiter and Dennis Cook from the Marlins.  The Mets would also add Japanese pitcher Masato Yoshii from Japan.  However, this team was struggling due to Hundley’s elbow injury and Bernard Gilkey and Carlos Baerga having yet another disappointing season.  Bobby V and the Mets kept the team above .500 and competitive long enough to allow the front office to make the bold move to add Mike Piazza.

From there, the Mets took off, and they would actually be in the thick of the Wild Card race.  They were in it despite the Hundley LF experiment not working.  They were in it despite getting nothing offensively from left field and their middle infield.  They were in it despite the fact the Mets effectively had a three man bullpen.  The latter (I’m looking at you Mel Rojas) coupled with the Braves dominance of the Mets led to a late season collapse and the team barely missing out on the Wild Card.

The Mets re-loaded in 1999 with Rickey Henderson, Robin Ventura, Roger Cedeno, Armando Benitez, and Orel Hershiser (no, Bobby Bonilla is not getting lumped in here).  Things do not initially go as planned.  After blowing a late lead, the Yankees beat the Mets, and the Mets found themselves a game under .500.  Phillips responded by firing almost all of Bobby V’s coaching staff.

The Mets and Bobby V responded by becoming the hottest team in baseball.  From that point forward, the Mets were 70-37.  At points during the season, they even held onto first place for a few days.  The Mets were helped by Bobby V being judicious with Henderson’s playing time to help keep him fresh.  Like in year’s past, Bobby V moved on from a veteran not performing to give Cedeno a chance to play everyday, and he was rewarded.  Again, like in previous seasons, Bobby V had to handle a less than stellar starting rotation.

In what was a fun and tumultuous season, the Mets won 97 games.  The team nearly avoided disaster again by forcing a one game playoff against the Reds for the Wild Card.  Not only did the Mets take that game, but they upset the Diamondbacks in the NLDS.  The NLDS performance is all the more impressive when you consider Piazza was forced to miss the last two games due to injury.  In the NLCS, they just met a Braves team that had their number for the past three seasons.  Still, even with the Braves jumping all over the Mets and getting a 3-0 series lead, we saw the Mets fight back.

In Game 4, it was an eighth inning two run go-ahead Olerud RBI single off John Rocker.  In Game 5, it was a 15 inning game that was waiting for the other team to blink first.  While, the Mets blinked in the top of the 15th with a Keith Lockhart RBI triple, the Mets responded in the bottom of the 15th with Ventura’s Grand Slam single to send the series back to Atlanta.  The Mets would be ever so close in Game 6.  They fought back from a 5-0 and 7-3 deficit.  Unforutnately, neither John Franco nor Benitez could hold a lead to force a Game 7.  Then Kenny Rogers couldn’t navigate his way around a lead-off double and bases loaded one out situation in the 11th.

In 2000, Bobby V finally got the rotation he needed with the trade acquiring Mike Hampton and the emergence of Glendon Rusch.  However, even with the much improved rotation, it still was not an easy year for the Mets.  It rarely ever was during Bobby V’s tenure.

First, the Mets had to deal with the Henderson and Darryl Hamilton situations.  Henderson became a malcontent that wanted a new contract.  Hamilton lost his starting job due to a toe injury and had become a part time player.  The result was the complete transformation of the outfield with Benny Agbayani and Jay Payton becoming everyday players.  In the infield, the Mets lost Olerud to free agency and had to convert free agent third baseman Todd Zeile into a first baseman.  Additionally, the Mets lost Gold Glove shortstop Rey Ordonez to injury leading the team to have to rely on Melvin Mora as their shortstop for much of the season.  In what was perhaps Bobby V’s finest managing job with the Mets, the team made the postseason for the second straight year.  It was the first time in Mets history they had gone to consecutive playoff games.

In the postseason, the team showed the same toughness and grit as they had in prior years.  In the first game of the NLDS, they overcame an injury to Derek Bell and saw Timo Perez become a folk hero.  The Mets outlasted the Giants in Game 2 despite a Benitez blown save.  In Game 3, Agbayani hit a walk-off homer in the 13th, and Game 4 saw the Jones one-hitter.  With the Mets not having to face the Braves in the NLCS, they steamrolled through the Cardinals en route to their first World Series since 1986.  While the team never gave in, the balls did not bounce in their favor.  That was no more apparent than when Zeile’s fly ball hit the top of the left field wall and bounced back into play.

From there, Phillips lost his magic touch.  The team started to get old in 2001, and by 2002, everything fell apart.  After what was his first season under .500 with the Mets, Bobby V was fired after the 2002 season.  With one exception, it was the end of a forgettable and disappointing two seasons for the Mets.

One thing that cannot be lost with the 2001 season was how the Mets dealt with the aftermath of 9/11.  Every player did their part.  So did their manager.  After 9/11 happened, Bobby V was a visible face of the Mets franchise visiting firehouses and helping relief aid at Shea Stadium.  When it was time to return to playing games, he was able to get his players in a mindset to play baseball games.  That is no small feat when your captain was a local guy who lost a friend on 9/11.  Also, while it was the players who spearheaded wearing the First Responders’ caps, it was their manager who stood by their side and encouraged them to wear them despite requests to take them off from the Commissioner’s Office.

Through the roller coaster ride that was the 1,003 games of the Bobby V Era, the Mets were 536-437.  During that span, Bobby V managed the second most games in Mets history while earning the second most wins in Mets history.  His .534 winning percentage is the third best in Mets history just behind Johnson and Willie Randolph.  In all but his final season as Mets manager, the Mets either met or exceed their expected (Pythagorean) record.

Bobby V stands as just one of two managers to go to consecutive postseasons.  His 13 postseason wins are the most by any manager in Mets history.  He’s the only Mets manager to win a postseason series in consecutive postseasons.  He’s managed in more postseason series than any other Mets manager.

Overall, Bobby V is an important part of Mets history.  Out of all the managers in Mets history, it is fair to say the Bobby V consistently did more with the talent given to him by his front office.  For some, he is the best manager in Mets history.  Most will certainly agree he is at least the third best manager in Mets history.  For all of this, and how he represented the Mets organization during 9/11 and the aftermath, Bobby V should be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.