MIke Piazza

Mets Not Permitted To Wear First Responders Caps Again

One surprising thing popped up on my son’s school calendar.  It was to wear red, white, and blue for what is being referred to there as Freedom Day. Having lived through the events of 9/11 and dealing with my own fears and loss due to the terrorist attacks, it just struck me as odd that 18 years later, children would wear red, white, and blue to celebrate America.  Odd, but good.

What also strikes me as odd is how Major League Baseball continues to not permit the New York Mets to wear the First Responders caps during the games played on 9/11.  Ultimately, when we talk about how we get from devastating terrorists attacks to children honoring America, the First Responders caps were an important part of the story.

It meant a lot to New Yorkers to see the New York Mets wear those caps.  We all shed a tear as John Franco wore an FDNY cap in honor of his fallen friend as he earned the win in the first game back after the attacks.  There was not a dry eye anywhere when Mike Piazza hit that home run off Steve Karsay to win the first game played in New York after 9/11.

Wearing the caps was the brainchild of Todd Zeile.  He defied Major League Baseball and encouraged his team to do the same.  They all did it playing at Shea Stadium, a place that was a staging ground for the recovery and relief efforts.  He had the full support of his manager Bobby Valentine, and yes, his ownership, who have unsuccessfully petitioned Major League Baseball to wear the caps during a game.

What remains odd is how fearful Major League Baseball is that another Mets player will defy them like Zeile once did.  In fact, as R.A. Dickey once pointed out, Major League Baseball has threatened severe fines against players who choose to defy them, and they have taken the steps to collect the caps from the dugout and clubhouse after batting practice.  This isn’t normal behavior.

In that sense, it’s odd. Across the country, schools are honoring America.  Adults are taking time to remember, and some of us still mourn.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball is making sure teams don’t infringe on a licensing deal because somehow allowing the Mets to wear First Responder caps is a bad thing for Major League Baseball and New Era.

Really, in 18 years, it’s just plain shocking no one sat across the table and figured this out.  There could have been some sort of happy medium wherein either New Era makes the caps, or that they create a new cap to both honor the fallen while keeping in the spirit of the licensing agreement.

Instead, Major League Baseball will go out of their way to announce the Mets will wear the caps during batting practice, which as we have learned, you are not required to wear officially licensed gear.  In their minds, they probably think they are offering a best of both worlds solution.  They’re wrong.

The shame of it is as we become further removed from 9/11, the more we move about our everyday lives.  In the 18 years since, we have graduated from school, gotten married, and started families.  For those of us who remember, we also have to remember work and running a household.  Moreover, we have to get our children ready for days like “Freedom Day.”

So in different places in America, we’re mourning and honoring while Major League Baseball is forgetting and enforcing.

 

Mets Real David Wright Dilemma

If you’ve been to or watched Mets alumni at Citi Field for events like the 30th Anniversary of the 1986 World Series or Mike Piazza‘s number retirement, you will see just how much former Mets respect and revere David Wright.

What makes those moments so special is you see Wright look on with admiration at players he grew up rooting for as a child, and they treat him as an equal. There is a mutual respect between Mets greats.

As we are seeing with the Mets yet again, this mutual respect is shared between Mets players but not ownership. No, the Wilpons just have a way of alienating themselves with players like they have with the fans.

Darryl Strawberry has spoken candidly how he no longer associates with the Mets due to Jeff Wilpon. There are multiple instances of the Mets alienating their former players.

One interesting note is how prominent Mets who have played for both the Mets and Yankees are more closely affiliated with the Yankees organization. David Cone and Al Leiter have worked for YES. We’ve seen them and players like Dwight Gooden participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Part of the reason we see these Mets with the Yankees is because of the World Series titles. We also see the Yankees making the efforts to bring these players back. More importantly, these players have typically received better treatment from the Yankees than they have the Mets.

For example, could you imagine the Yankees removing a popular player’s signature from the walls of their stadium? Would you see them turning Monument Park into an unkept portion of their team store?

More importantly, could you see the Yankees handling the Wright situation in the matter the Mets have? It’s extremely doubtful.

Over what amounts to less than $5 million, the Mets are not going to let Wright play again. For what it’s worth, the Mets have that money socked away from the trades of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jeurys Familia and maybe even the insurance from Yoenis Cespedes.

Sure, the Mets have offered other reasons, rather excuses. They’re going to rely on medical reports (even though he’s been cleared to play baseball games). They’ve said there’s a higher standard of medical clearance to play in MLB as opposed to minor league games.

Now, the Mets are moving the perceived goalposts by saying the team wants him to be a regular player as opposed to a “ceremonial” player or pinch hitter.

Of course, Wright being an everyday player is a bit difficult with the presence of Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Wilmer Flores. It’s also more difficult due to Wright’s own personal physical limitations.

Of course, the Mets don’t know what Wright wants or feels like he’s capable of doing because John Ricco admits to not talking to Wright about all of this.

Seeing how all of this has transpired and how the Mets have opted to operate their business, especially post Madoff, this is about the insurance money.

While Wright has always said the Wright thing and has never been truly critical of the organization, everyone has their breaking point, and this could be his.

Much like we’ve seen with former Mets greats, Wright may be so aggrieved, he just stays away (not that the Mets give players reasons to return with event like Old Timer’s Day). And seeing how Wright has been treated, we may see the same thing with fans and other former players because, at the end of the day, no one should be alright with how this is transpiring.

Sadly, unlike the greats of Mets past, there’s no other home for him. The Mets are it.

So while we’re seeing what could be Wright’s final chance, we may be seeing the end of Wright before he fades away forever. That could be the saddest thing of all, and it was all over a few million.

Meet The Mets Fan: MMO’s Tim Ryder

The Mets Fan

My name is Tim Ryder. I’m a writer for MMO, a contributor at Call to the Pen, and have been published at Hardball Times/Fangraphs, as well as Good Fundies. I formerly wrote for Friars on Base, a San Diego Padres site.

Personally, I’m 34. I was born October 12 at Booth Memorial in Flushing, which probably sealed my fate. I’m married to a wonderful woman named Heather and I have two lovely daughters, Kayla, 13, and Lily, 8.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I became a Mets fan at birth for the most part. Being born in 1983, I don’t remember ’86 and only vaguely recall ’88. My first real Mets memory is that 1989 team with the championship core still intact. I do remember hysterically sobbing on my kitchen floor after finding out Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter were released in November of that year. A precursor for my relationship with this team, I guess.

Favorite Mets Player

Excellent question. My favorite Met of all-time is probably David Wright. Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana are right up there, as are Mike Piazza, John Franco, geez, I could literally go on forever. Next question.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Johan’s no-hitter. I sat with my dad at the kitchen table and watched that game from first pitch to last. My dad passed away in 2015, so it’s definitely emerged as “the one” for me. And no, I don’t care that Carlos Beltran‘s foul ball was actually fair. Plus, even with replay, it still would have been foul (can’t review a ball that bounces in front of the base ump).

Message to Mets Fans

Keep voicing your displeasure with the way this organization is run. Send tweets. Send letters (126 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY).

Keep putting pressure on the Wilpons to run this team properly. They’ve become tone-deaf to our passion, as well as our desperation. We’ve been loyal through the best and, mostly, the worst of times and we deserve the same respect in return.

Meet The Mets Fan: Steph

The Mets Fan

I’m Steph, aka whutyearisit on the Twitter. I’m a senior in college and an aspiring sports journalist, but my account is reserved for very strong Mets opinions only.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I grew up a mets fan from my dad, uncle and brother. I really didn’t get into the Mets like i am now until 2012, right around Nohan time.

Favorite Mets Player

Mike Piazza was my first favorite player, but Jacob deGrom has stolen my heart, and I love him dearly.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

I was at Game 3 of the World Series and Game 1 of the NLCS.  I have been to many a game in my time, but i think my fave all-time game was Asdrubal Cabrera Bobblehead Day on July 1, 2017. I was on rain delay theater that day.

Message to Mets Fans

Don’t take out frustrations on bad players or players out or position or a first-year manager or even the GM. All of these problems spread across multiple GMs/managers. The Wilpons are the problem and nothing will be solved until they’re gone.

Meet The Mets Fan: Jerseylicious’ Anthony Lombardi

The Mets Fan

My name is Anthony Lombardi. I’m a Hairstylist and salon owner from NJ. I was also featured on the reality show Jerseylicious.

How You Became a Mets Fan

My father is a Mets fan and that’s pretty much how I became one. Same way my 9 yr old son is a Mets fan.

Favorite Mets Player

I have different favorite players from different periods of my life. As a young kid it was Lee Mazzilli. During our golden years it was Keith Hernandez. In my 20’s, Mike Piazza and currently Michael Conforto. All time I’d have to say Piazza.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Winning the World Series. Followed by taking my son to his 1st Mets game with my dad.

Message to Mets Fans

My message would be. Stay loyal. And root for the name on the front of the Jersey not the back. Also never believe the Wilpons.

Turning Off Wilpon Defender Mike Francesca

In 1997, the team had a surprising 88 win season with young players like Edgardo Alfonzo beginning to make his mark, accomplished players like John Olerud rejuvenating their careers, and players like Rick Reed seemingly coming out of nowhere to be good Major League players.  With a brash Bobby Valentine at the helm, many expected the Mets to make the leap in 1998.

As the 1998 season unfolded, it wasn’t to be, and that was mainly because their star catcher Todd Hundley had offseason elbow surgery which was going to keep him out for a while.

The Mets did start well.  On May 13th, the Mets were 19-15, albeit seven games back in the division.  Then, the following day, shockwaves went through Major League Baseball, and not just because the Mets were swept in a doubleheader by the Padres.  No, out of nowhere Mike Piazza was traded to the Florida Marlins.

It was an absolute blockbuster with Piazza and Todd Zeile going to the Marlins, who just dismantled the 1997 World Series winning team, for Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, Charles Johnson, and Gary Sheffield.

Everyone in baseball knew the Marlins were looking to flip Piazza for prospects, and a talented Mets farm system seemed to make them one of the favorites if they were interested.  Problem was, they weren’t interested.

After this trade happened, the Mets would fall to nine games out in the division.  While this was happening, Mike and the Mad Dog would take to the air day-in and day-out clamoring for the Mets to go out and get Piazza.  Their assault was relentless.

Finally, on May 22nd, the Mets would acquire Piazza from the Marlins for Preston Wilson, Geoff Goetz, and Ed Yarnall.  To hear Francesca tell it, he played a key role in that happening:

While a noted blowhard, you can never discount how public pressure forces teams to act.  After all if we look back to 2015, with all that happened, we did see the Mets swing a trade to obtain Yoenis Cespedes.  The public pressure continued in the ensuring offseason with the team, who had already moved on from Cespedes by signing Alejandro De Aza to platoon with Juan Lagares in center, acquiescing and signing Cespedes to what was essentially a one year deal.

The team didn’t let things play out after the 2016 season.  They jumped fairly quickly, and they signed Cespedes to a four year deal even with full knowledge of his heel issues.  Certainly, much of this was the result of the public pressure, which was given a voice on New York airwaves by people like Francesca.

Now?  Well, Francesca has gone from being an important voice to being a mouthpiece for the Wilpons.

He is now defending the Wilpons saying they are spending money.  He notes how the team has the seventh highest payroll in the majors.  That is patently false.  Cots, Spotrac and Steve the Ump ranks the Mets payroll 12th. Really, everyone ranks the Mets payroll 12th.

The AP ranked the Yankees, not the Mets as having the seventh highest payroll.  Maybe, Francesca read New York and was confused.

Putting the ranking aside, lost in that is the Mets recover 75% of David Wright‘s salary, which, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Jeff Wilpon has admitted does not get reinvested into baseball operations.  That means the Mets payroll is actually $15 million less than advertised.

Dropping the Mets payroll by $15 million, the Mets payroll drops to 15th in the majors.  With the $3 million saved in the Jeurys Familia trade, the payroll drops to 16th.  Yes, a New York market team, who is currently  refusing to give Jacob deGrom, currently the best starter in baseball, a contract extension, is in the bottom half of the league in spending.

For his part, Francesca defends this.  He will say the Mets spend, but they don’t spend well.  Nothing backs this up remotely.  Nothing.

Instead of pointing the finger where it belongs, the Wilpons, he will continue to bash Mickey Callaway as if he is the scourge of the Mets organization.  He will look at all the surrounds the Mets and mock them while failing to even consider pointing the blame at ownership.

And for all that, I’ve stopped listening to him.  After over 30 years of listening to him, I’m done.  And I suspect I will not be the only Mets fan who feels this way.

Meet The Mets Fan: Josh Eppard

The Mets Fan

I’m Josh Eppard. Musician. Wayward lost youth who figured it out at the very last second. I play drums in Coheed and Cambria, a nerd rock band and I have six rap records out. Seriously. Haha.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I’ve asked myself this question many times. How DID I become a Mets fan??? Well, the answer is . . . I don’t flipping know. To me, it feels like one of those things that just is. Like time. When did time become time? It is man made after all. For me, that’s the Mets. It just feels like it’s always been. My first Met memories though are of being 4/5 years old and me and my brother rubbing this little sculpture in our living room to give Darryl Strawberry “Homerun Power!”

Favorite Mets Player

To pick just one would be crazy. But, ugh Jesus… I have the weirdest players I connect with. Jose Vizcaino was def one, Lance Johnson was my fav player, while with the Mets, certainly John Olerud…. if I had to pick ONE Met that resides above all other Mets . . . FonziePiazza…. it’s tough to pick ONE. All of the above! And Al Leiter. Leiter and Bobby Jones and Rick Reed… haha I could go on forever.

Favorite Moment in Mets HistoryBefore 2015 is have to say Pratt’s HR in the post season. Maybe the 99 play in game vs the reds. That ’99 team was my fav Mets team. Ever. But 2015 was magical. It was a shame we couldn’t guide it home all the way. But that year, we should all be thankful for that magic year.

Message to Mets Fans

Don’t Jump. All things ebb and flow and things will get better. Or worse. Idk. We are in this together though.

Meet The Mets Fan: Upgrade Star Logan Marshall-Green

The Mets Fan

I’m Logan Marshall-Green.

How I Became a Mets Fan

1986

Favorite Mets Player

Gary Carter

Favorite Moment in Mets History

Bill BucknerMike Piazza 9-11 homer.  Johan Santana No-no (listening at 3 AM from London).

Message to Mets Fans

Does anyone want a signed, ‘87 throwback Kirk Nieuwenhuis Jersey?

Also, Go see UPGRADE. June 1st. (Mets play the Cubs that night, we all know it’s an L).

 

Catching Competition Begins Anew

As the Mets opened the 2018 season, there was supposed to be a catching competition, or at least a time sharing between Kevin Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud.  This situation was created because both catchers had failed to do anything to truly claim the job as their own, but they had shown flashes which gave your confidence either or both could figure it out this year.

Then, in one week, both players would suffer injuries.  With respect to d’Arnaud, it was a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery.  For Plawecki, it was a broken hand resulting from getting hit by a Tayron Guerrero fastball.

From there, the Mets had to turn to the tandem of Tomas Nido and Jose Lobaton.  Neither one of these players would Wally Pipp Plawecki as they and the Mets struggled.  With their play behind the plate, and with Plawecki not healing as quick as the team hoped, it was time to do something drastic.

That drastic move came from Matt Harvey being designated for assignment.  Now, Harvey was not designated for assignment as a means to get a catcher.  However, when he was designated, and the Mets having a small window to get a deal done, the team did all they could do to land a catcher.

The end result was Reds backup catcher and former All Star Devin Mesoraco.

After the injuries and hitting .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate attempts between 2015 and the trade, Mesoraco and the remainder of his $13.1 million salary was more than expendable for the Reds.  In many ways, getting a broken down player who could no replicate his prior success due to extensive injuries was the perfect return for Harvey.

In some ways,. Mesoraco has revitalized the Mets.  He has worked well with the pitching staff, and he has hit again.  In 15 games with the Mets, Mesoraco is hiting .261/.358/.630 with two doubles, five homers, and 10 RBI.  During telecasts, we hear Keith Hernandez dropping Mike Piazza comparisons on him.  Yes, it’s related to his back swing, but the way he has slugged in a Mets uniform, the comparisons are apt.

With Mesoraco’s emergence, things are murky again for Plawecki.  While he has not hit for power so far his year, he was handling the staff quite well before his injury, and he was getting on base with a .455 OBP.

Certainly, both catchers have made a case for why they should be the primary or starting catcher with Mesoraco likely ahead.  Yesterday, in both games of the doubleheader, both catchers made their claim for the spot.

In the first game, Mesoraco was 2-3 with two runs, a homer, and two RBI.  His homer should have proven to be a go-ahead game winning homer in the top of the ninth.

In the second game, Plawecki was 3-4 with two runs, an RBI, and a walk.  He also reached on an error meaning he reached safely in all five of his plate appearances.

There are many other factors at play including how comfortable the pitching staff is with each catcher and certainly Noah Syndergaard‘s seeming need to have a personal catcher.  Through all the stats, there is one interesting consideration.  In games Mesoraco starts, the Mets are 6-6 as opposed to being 7-1 in games Plawecki starts.

Right now, with the Mets trying to figure out the infield, bench, and back end of the starting rotation, the catching situation presents a welcome “problem” for Mickey Callaway and his staff.  Fortunately, the Mets have two good options back there – two options who have raised their game with the prospect of competition.

Let the best catcher win.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Should Beltran’s Number Have Been Re-Issued?

The New York Mets organization has been quite reticent to retire their best player’s jersey numbers.  From a player perspective, hat is an honor which has been bestowed upon just Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza, two players who just so happen to be Hall of Famers who have worn a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque.

With respect to Piazza, once he departed via free agency, the team did not reissue his No. 31.  Instead, like what we now see with Gary Carter‘s No. 8 and Keith Hernandez‘s No. 17, the number was taken out of circulation.  Unlike Carter and Hernandez, the Mets retired Piazza’s number.

What is interesting is Carlos Beltran is seen by most as a sure fire Hall of Famer, and it is eminently possible he enters the Hall wearing a Mets cap.  Given precedent, you would think the number would be reserved for future retirement.  Instead, it has been reissued to Val Pascucci, Fred Lewis, Travis d’Arnaud, Bob Geren, Matt Reynolds, and finally Luis Guillorme.

In this latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable, we ask the question about whether the Mets should have treated Beltran’s number like the Mets greats before him, or whether there is no issue with 15 being given to other players:

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

I could go either way about retiring Beltran’s number but have to agree with Metstradamus’ excellent point. Let’s wait for 8.

Michael Baron (MLB)

I’m wishy washy on this subject regarding Beltran. He is the best center fielder they ever had, and easily among the top 10 players they’ve ever had. But he doesn’t identify with the base that way – people connect Beltran with that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. So if the Mets were to unofficially retire Beltran’s number by no longer issuing it, that could generate a negative discussion which, to be honest is avoidable and unnecessary. The team knows that and is obviously very sensitive to negative press and discussions, so it might actually be best to remain at a status quo on this. But ask me tomorrow and I might feel a bit different.

Ed Leyro (Studious Metsimus)

As great as Beltran was as a Met, the only way it’ll be taken out of circulation is if he goes into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque. Keith Hernandez was a team captain and, like Beltran, was a top hitter and fielder. But his No. 17 was given to the likes of Graeme Lloyd and Jose Lima. If Hernandez, who was more beloved as a Met than Beltran ever was, can’t get his number out of circulation, then Beltran won’t either.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

Let’s keep getting some use out of 15. Maybe Luis Guillorme will make us want to retire it twice.

Tim Ryder (MMO & FOB)

As much as I loved watching Beltran with the Mets and the countless times I’ve defended him for looking at strike one, two, and three in Game 7 (three of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen to this day), I personally do not retire his 15 or even take it out of circulation. When he gets into Cooperstown, which he will, if they stick a Mets hat on his head, I think at that point they have to retire it. Until then, if it were up to me, I say no.. He was successful everywhere else he went. That’s hallowed ground for this organization. Until David Wright‘s #5 gets a spot up there, no one else from that era should.

Dilip Srindhar (MMO & MMN)

Yes. Carlos Beltran is very deserving of this honor. Beltran from 2005-2011 hit .282/.369/.508 with a 130 OPS+. To put this into perspective, Mike Piazza hit .289/.367/.534 with a 133 OPS+ from 1999-2005. Also add on that Beltran was an elite defensive CF during most of his Mets career. Beltran seems quite likely to enter the Hall-of-Fame as a Met. Beltran is an all-time Met and deserves the respect that the others before him have received. The Mets retire very few numbers and there is no reason Carlos Beltran shouldn’t be next along with David Wright. There has been some tension with the Mets and their fans against Carlos Beltran the few years. But fans have started to realize how great and impactful of a player he was and hopefully the Mets do too.

Mets Daddy

The biggest issue with the Mets not taking out of circulation is like many things with the Wilpon family, it has the stench of being personal.  It’s why we saw the team have a patch for Rusty Staub but not former owner Nelson Doubleday, a man who owned the team during the franchise’s greatest run.

The decision reeks of pettiness related to Beltran striking out in the 2006 NLCS and for his going against team advice to have career saving knee surgery.

Honestly, I’m not sure the team ever considered taking his number out of circulation, and if the topic was raised, it was quickly dismissed.

When Beltran does get inducted ino the Hall of Fame, I seriously doubt we see the Mets replicate the Yankees efforts to heal old wounds like we saw when Dave Winfield was inducted, and in the event Beltran does opt to wear a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, part of me doubts the Mets take the next step in deciding to retire his number.

One thing I don’t doubt is the terrific writing from the people who participate in this Roundtable.  I encourage you to take the time to read what they’ve written about Beltran, Carter, and a host of all other Mets topics.