Rusty Staub

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.

 

 

Mets Fans Should Watch OMG Carl’s Food Show

Lost in the Mets terrific start to the season has been the fact the Mets family has been hit by some tragedy.  There was the death of Rusty Staub, and the first Mets player inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, Bud Harrelson, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

This leaves many of us wondering what we could do to help not just Bud, but also the many who are affected by Alzheimer’s. Even if you don’t have the means to make a contribution, there is something you can do – Subscribe to and watch Carl Ruiz’s YouTube channel entitled OMG Carl’s Food Show.

Personally, I have come to know Carl not just from having gone to Marie’s (before it was made famous), but also because of his radio work with Opie and because of his dominance on Guy’s Grocery Games (GGG).

Like many, myself included, Carl’s family has been affected by Alzheimer’s.  Sadly, he would lose his father to the disease.  If you watch GGG or follow him on Twitter, you know he has decided to take action by raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association.  To help him in this endeavor, all you have to do is watch one of his reviews of famous chain restaurants.

So far, he has reviewed Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, Cracker Barrel breakfast, Five Guys, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Outback, Subway, Taco Bell naked taco, Waffle House, and Wendy’s.

While you may not always agree with what he says, like McDonald’s French Fries falling just below the mark of being dubbed “Beyond Reproach,” he was spot on with his analysis of Chick-fil-A waffle fries. Honestly, his review of that renewed my faith in the human race after The Ringer‘s embarrassing venture into this field.

Overall, if you want to be entertained by a great chef giving an honest and interesting review of fast food, you should check out the videos.  If not, do it to help those suffering from Alzheimers.

 

Callaway’s Opening Act a Walk in the Park

While being a Mets fan may come with some trials and tribulations, the one day Mets fans are typically happy is Opening Day.  Heading into today’s game, the Mets were 36-20 all time on Opening Day, which is the best Opening Day winning percentage in Major League history.  As a result, the Mets are usually 1-0, and their manager looks like a genius.

Today, new Mets Manager Mickey Callaway looked like a genius.

When you looked at the Opening Day lineup, you knew immediately this was no longer Terry Collins‘ Mets.  The lineup not only had the Mets best hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, batting second, it also had Noah Syndergaard batting eighth and Amed Rosario batting ninth.  If you were skeptical of the decision, the Mets quickly put you at ease.

Kevin Plawecki reached on a one out walk, and he remained there after Syndergaard struck out.  With two outs and the lead-off hitter behind him, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez challenged Rosario with fastballs.  Rosario shot a single up the middle putting runners one first and second with two outs.

Brandon Nimmo did what Brandon Nimmo does, and he drew a walk.  Cespedes came up with the bases loaded, and he delivered with a two out RBI single, which at the time gave the Mets a 3-2 lead.  And with that, Callaway looked like a genius.

Frankly, it’s easy to look like a genius when everyone plays as well as the Mets did today.

Nimmo set the tone getting hit by the first pitch of the game and eventually scoring on a Jose Martinez throwing error on what could have been an Asdrubal Cabrera double play grounder.  Instead of an inning ending double play, the Mets scored a first inning run without getting a base hit.  That’s what happens when you draw nine walks in the game.

Speaking of Nimmo, he was brilliant today.   He went 2-3 with two runs, a walk, and the aforementioned hit by pitch.  With Michael Conforto reportedly being much closer to being ready to start his season, Nimmo is going to need more games like this to stay in the starting lineup.

So will Adrian Gonzalez.  The veteran was coming off a horrific injury plagued 2017 season where the Dodgers not only didn’t miss him as they won the pennant, it seemed they didn’t even want him around.  Nor did the Braves for that matter, as after a trade, they are paying him almost $22 million to play for an NL East rival.

Between that, his terrible Spring Training, and his soft line out to short in his first at-bat, helooked done.  He wouldn’t make another out on the game going 2-3 with a run, double, two walks, and an RBI.

In situations like this, you want your players to make the decision about who should sit and who should play to be extraordinarily difficult.  Based on Nimmo’s and Gonzalez’s play, Callaway’s decision will just be that.

Overall, the Mets offense and unconventional lineup was humming.  The team scored nine runs on 12 hits highlighted by a five run fifth where they not only chased Martinez, but also former Mets prospect Matthew Bowman.

Every Mets starter, save Syndergaard, reached base at least once safely.  Cespedes and Rosario were the only ones who did not draw a walk.  However, when Rosario is attacking first pitch fastballs to the tune of a 2-4 day with two runs and two RBI, you don’t mind his over-aggressiveness at the plate.

About the only negative on the day was seeing Yadier Molina homer.  That just brought back too many raw emotions from 2006.  Some of that sting was taken away with Molina suffering the indignity of Jay Bruce stealing a base off of him.

With Syndergaard, you had some real reason for excitement.  He became just the second Mets pitcher to strike out 10 on Opening Day.  He needed just 85 pitches to get through six innings.  Yes, he would give up the two homers, but overall, he seemed poised and ready to have a dominating 2018 season.

Speaking of dominating, the Mets bullpen came out and completely shut the door on the Cardinals.  Robert Gsellman, Anthony Swarzak, and Jeurys Familia combined to pitch three scoreless and hitless innings.  Gsellman was the most impressive striking out the side in the seventh.  This bullpen performance will make you forget about the Cardinals getting Greg Holland over the Mets for one day.

And for this one day, Gonzalez is rejuvenated, the bullpen is lights out, Callaway is a genuis, and the Mets are the best team in baseball.  Sure, it seems that way almost every Opening Day as a Mets fan, but at least for tonight, let’s just believe this will carry on well into October.

Game Notes: A number 10 was placed on the back of the mound to honor the recently deceased Rusty Staub.  Syndergaard joined Pedro Martinez as the only Mets starter to have a double digit strikeout game on Opening Day.  This was the first time a Mets starter made back-to-back Opening Day starts since Johan Santana did it from 2008 – 2010.

RIP Rusty Staub

There’s a famous Easter Sunday Mets story as detailed by Matthew Silverman of metsilverman.com details on his site.  Even with there being a player strike, Rusty Staub and who he thought was rival Mets manager Gil Hodges would have a warm conversation leading Rusty to exclaim, “Wow!  Easter Sunday brings out the best in everybody.”

What Rusty didn’t know and couldn’t know because of the strike was part of the reason Hodges was so nice to him was the Mets had swung a trade the night before to obtain the larger than life right fielder.

What Rusty didn’t know and couldn’t know at the time was this was the last time he would ever talk with Hodges.  Tragically, without any warning, Hodges would die the next day.  Like many Mets fans and players, Rusty never got to say good-bye.  Rather, he was just left with the warm memories of a Mets great believing it was Easter Sunday that brought the best out in a fierce competitor.

If you excuse the sacrilege of a former altar boy for a moment, maybe it wasn’t Easter Sunday which brought out the best in Hodges, maybe it was Rusty.

While the City of Montreal may claim Rusty, he was definitively a Met.  Considering the larger than life figure he was, I’m sure we will hear the Astros and Tigers fans claim Rusty as their own.  That’s what happens when you have a player who is both great on the field and great off of it.

Personally, I never knew Rusty from his playing days.  I was too young to remember him and his 1985 season where he did nothing but pinch hit.  Really, the only thing I know of Rusty as  Met is the exploits which were touted during the videos on Diamondvision played during rain delays or the tales my father would tell me about how great he was in the 1973 World Series.

No, I remember Rusty as a great Mets ambassador.  The advertisements for his charity events for the New York Police & Fire Widows & Children’s Benefit Fund.  Hearing about the fundraisers for the event was a big part of the season for a Mets fan.  Contributing to it was all the more so.  Considering this being his post-retirement’s life’s work, his tireless efforts after 9/11 should come as no surprise.

I also remember the broadcasts.  Back when Rusty was calling games, he and Ralph Kiner were one of the reasons you tuned in.  Sure, they tended to be Mets homers, but you could excuse it a bit with the old stories and enthusiasm they had for the Mets.  It was really no different than listening to your dad and uncles sitting around a table talking which watching a Mets game.

Personally, my favorite Rusty memory was from a few years back.  While on a plane from Ireland, Rusty suffered a heart attack.  In a situation which would have killed nearly anyone, Rusty survived, and he lived to tell about it.  More than than, he relished it, and if you’ve ever listened to him during a Mets game, you knew he could spin a tale.

Those are the memories that we should all miss.  For those who watched him play, I’m sure you will miss him all the more.

And now, 46 years after he became a Met, he now leaves us.  In a somewhat fitting and tragic fashion, he departs us during the Easter Triduum.  After all he has done for the Mets and City of New York, he now rests peacefully.  Hopefully, when we all think back upon his life, we will all recall how like Easter Sunday, Rusty brought out the best in all of us.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Next Mets Hall of Famer

In what is a yearly tradition, the St. Louis Cardinals hold a fan vote over which player should be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of FameFor a number of reasons, the Mets do not hold such a vote for their fanbase, but in vein of what the Cardinals are doing, the Mets Bloggers tackle the issue of who should be the next Mets great inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame:

Joe Maracic(Loud Egg)

What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.

The next player would have to be David Wright, I’m guessing.

Maybe Beltran

Michael Baron (MLB)

I do agree on the Nelson Doubleday nomination. He was a transformative owner for this franchise and single-handedly changed the direction, brand, and reputation of the club by forcing the Piazza trade. But it’s hard to see it happening while the Wilpons own the team.

Having said that, the next logical candidate to me is David Wright. He is among a true handful of players who have served as the identity for the on-field product. Up until age 30, he was among the top third baseman in baseball history (which some would be shocked to learn), and he has served through thick and thin as the voice of this franchise, earning the respect of both current and former teammates in the process.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Reflexively I thought “Edgardo Alfonzo.” Then I checked to see if Ed Kranepool and Rusty Staub were already in the Mets Hall of Fame. They are. So I’ll stick with Edgardo Alfonzo. More hits and RBIs than any other Met in a postseason, and that doesn’t technically include his “Game 163” heroics. Excellent everyday third baseman in 1997 and 1998. Moved to second base in 1999 to accommodate Robin Ventura, forming The Best Infield Ever. Mentioned *by name* in Mike Piazza‘s Hall of Fame speech. Didn’t appear to ruin any Mets prospects managing the Brooklyn Cyclones last season. Forever underrated by everyone unlucky enough to not be in a knowledgeable Mets fan’s orbit.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

Nelson Doubleday belongs in the Mets Hall of Fame, but I seriously doubt the Wilpons would ever be s selfless to do the right thing here.

The real tragedy isn’t that Nelson Doubleday isn’t the majority owner of the Mets anymore. He might have sold the team anyway, as his children did not wish to be involved with the franchise. Instead, it is the misconception that the 1980-1986 period of Mets history wasn’t his legacy. Whether its internal revisionist history mandated by current ownership or a myth enabled by certain go-along, get-along journalists, that section of Mets history should be known as “The Doubleday Era.” It was Nelson Doubleday who came to the rescue when Shea Stadium became a ghost town. He was the man who saved the Mets.

Doubleday should have been inducted a long time ago…

Michael Mayer (MMO & MMN)

I’m in full agreement here with Doubleday.

David Wright is the obvious choice, and there aren’t a lot of dark horses. But the one I’ll give you is Edgardo Alfonzo. Universally loved, one of the best players on a World Series participant, and also worked for the Mets post retirement.

On FAFIF, I recently wrote about Edgardo Alfonzo’s induction being overdue, also mentioning Howard Johnson and Bobby Valentine as worthy, so let’s get them each in.

Amazing to me that the Mets have never so honored a second baseman. In addition to Fonzie, Ron Hunt, Felix Millan and Wally Backman all merit serious consideration. If we’re defense-minded, Doug Flynn, too.

In general, the Mets HOF is an underutilized asset. There’s no good reason not to make annual selections. I understand being somewhat stingy with retired numbers. This can and should be bigger, a way to warmly embrace those who made the Mets the Mets in the best sense.

At the risk of inciting Jerry Blevins‘s ire, I’ll close with what Terrence Mann had to say to Ray Kinsella: The Mets Hall of Fame reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again.

Doubleday is a good one but I’m going – perhaps unsurprisingly – with David Wright.

It’s not all that often that fans of any team, let alone this one, get to see the best position player in franchise history. Mets fans, in fact, until recently didn’t really have a best position player in franchise history. We had lots of guys — Piazza, Beltran, Mookie, Keith, Carter, HoJo, Buddy, Millan, Kranepool, etc — who were franchise icons, but either not good enough to fit the description, or not here for long enough. But we never had our Ted Williams, our George Brett, our Craig Biggio — whichever comparison you use, up until very recently, we didn’t have one. When David Wright came up, it was evident pretty early on that he was going to be an all-time Mets great, provided he stayed long enough. Sure enough, as high as expectations were, I’d say he was better, for most of his career through 2013, than anyone could reasonably have hoped. People may not remember just how good David Wright was: in the ten years from 2004 to 2013, he batted .301/.382/.506, and averaged 22 home runs a year. The comparison doesn’t hold up, because George Brett had an absurdly productive second half of his career, but through his first ten years, Brett only hit .316/.370/.503, with far fewer home runs. Now, I KNOW that Wright’s career was completely derailed, while Brett went on to play ten more productive seasons — but George Brett is a top-5 all time third baseman, and matching up with him for ten years of a career is no easy task. And that’s not even getting into the intangibles, which to me, make it a no-brainer. David Wright is our captain, a leader in the locker room, and by all accounts, just about the nicest guy in baseball. He’s continued to work to come back from a series of injuries that almost certainly would have led a lesser player to hang ‘em up by now. Some people say it’s enough, that he should retire — but to a kid growing up with epilepsy, who too often got tired of working day after day for an uncertain reward sometime in the future, watching David Wright come back from injury, each time he did, was just incredible. David Wright is the greatest position player in Mets history, and maybe the greatest guy as well. The day he retires, his plaque in the Mets Hall of Fame should go up, and — this isn’t the question, but I can’t resist — his number should join 31 and 41. I sometimes run into people opposed to this, but I can’t for the life of me understand why. Gods do not answer letters, and David Wright’s number should never again be issued. Sometimes, in baseball, there are things you don’t even have to think about — you just know.

Mets Daddy

Previously, I have written pieces advocating for Edgardo Alfonzo, Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine, and Gary Cohen to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame.

Going back through them, one of the things that stood out to me about calling for Cohen’s induction was his being up for the Ford C. Frick Award.  Essentially, the Mets were going to have the situation where Cohen was in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but not the Mets Hall of Fame.  That would certainly have been awkward.

To that end, I believe Carlos Beltran is the most pressing person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  With his Hall of Fame career coming to an end, the question is not whether he will go into the Hall of Fame, but what cap he will be wearing when he is inducted.  Looking over his career, that is between the Royals, Mets, and a blank cap.

Given the few Hall of Famers in this team’s history, it would behoove the Mets to attempt to convince Beltran to go into the Hall of Fame wearing the interlocking NY.  To do that, the team would have to heal some old wounds and rebuild some bridges.  A Carlos Beltran Day at Citi Field with his Hall of Fame induction would go a long way to accomplish that.

On a personal note, I never would have contemplated Nelson Doubleday, and that is why I am happy we are doing this Roundtable.  As you can tell, there is great Mets content out there and some original thought.  With that in mind, I encourage you to visit their sites (link is in the parenthesis next to their name).

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.

 

 

Mets Need To Find David Wright A Place To DH

During Spring Training, we saw that David Wright is still able to go out there and hit.  Ultimately, it wasn’t his ability at the plate that caused the Mets to shut him down.  It was his inability to throw a baseball.

There was a dark period where we thought it would never happen for him again.  Recently, there was a glimmer of hope with him playing consecutive games at third base for St. Lucie.  That hope faded away with Wright shutting down his rehab stint due to shoulder pain.  Once again, there is doubt Wright can ever play in the field again.

What is difficult here is there still may be baseball left in Wright.  If nothing else, Wright has two years and $27 million to motivate him to return.  But it’s more than money.  Seeing Wright over the past 12 years, we see a determined player with a lot of pride.  We also see a player who just loves playing baseball.

Now, there is a reasonable belief Wright can still hit.  Since 2015, Wright played in 75 games, he hit .260/.365/.436 with 15 doubles, 12 homers, and 31 RBI.  During that stretch, he had a 119 OPS+ and a 125 wRC+.  If the Mets were an American League team, Wright could be a viable option at DH.  Looking at the current league leaders, if Wright could still replicate his 125 wRC+, he would rank third in that category among DHs.  Whether or not his shoulder will permit him to do even that remains to be seen.  What we do know is that he can’t do that with the Mets unless the team wants to give him the 1985 Rusty Staub treatment, which is something no team will do in the modern game.

Realistically speaking, if there is going to be more baseball in Wright’s career, it’s not going to be with the Mets.  If Wright is going to have a second act in his career, it is going to happen as a DH.

We’ve seen with the Red Sox, they were more than happy to go with a hobbled David Ortiz as their DH.  The Angels have done the same with Albert Pujols.  While Wright doesn’t have their power, he still has the ability to hit.  Unlike them, he still has the ability to run.  Long story short, he still has ability.

Now, there aren’t going to be teams lining up to take Wright.  No one wants an injured 34 year old owed $27 million.  However, teams may be willing to take a flyer if the Mets eat some or all of his contract.  As we know the issue here is that is something the Mets are loathe to do.

But they need to do it.  Wright’s mere presence puts the team in a holding pattern.  It’s led them to go with Eric Campbell as a backup in 2016, and it led to Jose Reyes being the Opening Day third baseman in 2017.  The Mets simply cannot repeat this mistake.  They need to fully address the position this offseason if they want any hopes of returning to the postseason. The team can’t do that as long as Wright is on the roster.  As long as he is here, he is going to play in some capacity.

That is a hindrance to both him at the Mets.  The team needs a real answer at third, and he needs a real opportunity to play.

For Wright, that is in the American League.  There, anything is possible for him.  He could play a full season.  It’s possible he make the All Star team.  There may be another postseason in his future.  Maybe, he wins a World Series.  If nothing else, Wright has his best chance to extend his career.

Overall, there is no doubt the Mets and Mets fans love Wright.  In the 55 year history of the Mets, there is perhaps no player that loved being a Mets player more than Wright.  If they truly loved each other, they need to do what is best for one another.  They need to move on.  Once that happens, they will both be better off for it.

 

Ya Gotta Believe Again

On August 22, 1973, the Mets won their second game in a row to raise the Mets record to 57-67 leaving them 6.0 games out in the National League East behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.

From that point forward, the Mets would be the hottest team in baseball going 25-12 carrying them to an unlikely division championship. The Mets rode the hot streak to beat the Big Red Machine 3-2 in a best of five NLCS, and they came within a win of disrupting the Oakland A’s dynasty.

The popular story was the Mets were spurred by Tug McGraw screaming “Ya Gotta Believe!” after a M.Donald Grant “pep talk” in July. However, the truth is that team just got healthy at the right time, and when the team was at 100%, they were among the best teams in baseball.

During that year, the team was hampered by injuries. Jerry GroteJohn MilnerBud Harrelson, and Cleon Jones all missed significant time. Rusty Staub player through injuries all year.  On top of that phenom Jon Matlack was having a down year a year removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Award.  He was joined by Jerry Koosman in having a surprising down year.  Willie Mays looked to be every bit of his 42 years of age.  Young fill-ins like Don Hahn just were not producing.  The Mets were forced to do anything they could do to improve the team like releasing dead weight like Jim Fregosi.  About all that went right that season for the Mets was Tom Seaver; that and the fact that no one ran away with the division allowing the Mets to enter the postseason with an 82-79 record.

Isn’t that what this Mets season has been.  With Matt Harvey, David Wright, Lucas Duda, Adrubal Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes, we have seen this Mets team be hampered time and again by injuries.  We have seen countless Mets play through injuries like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz with their bone spurs.  We’ve seen replacements like Eric Campbell, Ty Kelly, and Matt Reynolds not play up to snuff.  Players like Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto had surprising down years.  About the only thing that has gone right for the Mets this year is the fact that Jacob deGrom has continued to pitch like an ace, and the fact that no one has ran away with the second Wild Card spot.

Maybe, just maybe, this is 1973 all over again.  That 1973 team was much further back in both the standings and more teams to leapfrog in the standings.  All they needed to do was to get healthy and to get hot.  Right now, with Cespedes back and hitting home runs for the Mets again, this team is healthy, and they are on the verge of getting hot.  If that happens, the Mets can very well take that second Wild Card spot and get into the postseason.

As we saw in 1973 as well as last year, with great Mets pitching, the Mets can beat anyone in the postseason.  They can shock the world.  Anything is possible so long as they get hot and get into the postseason.

Mets Closing the Doors on the Expos Again

You cannot tell the story of the New York Mets franchise without the Montreal Expos. 

The Expos first ever game was against the Mets on April 8, 1969 at Shea Stadium. It was not only the first game in Expos’ history, it was also the first game in what was the Mets path to winning the 1969 World Series. On October 3, 2004, the Expos would play their final game in their history at Shea Stadium. Between those two days on time so much had transpired. 

The first major trade between the two franchises was the Don Clendenon trade. Clendenon would become the power hitting first baseman the ’69 Mets needed to put them over the top. More importantly, Clendenon would go on to become the 1969 World Series MVP. 

After a few disappointing years, the Mets made a trade with the Expos again. The time the Mets obtained Le Grande Orange, Rusty Staub. Staub was a part of the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets. Staub had an incredible postseason that year. He hit three homers in the NLCS when the Mets upset the Big Red Machine. He hit .423/.464/.615 in the World Series. Bum shoulder and all, he had a great World Series for a Mets team that came so close to upsetting the Athletics in the World Series. 

The Mets would not make the playoffs again until 1986. The missing piece to that team was Gary Carter, who the Mets obtained in a trade with the Expos. Carter was everything the Mets thought they were getting and more. He continued putting up Hall of Fame numbers while nurturing a young Mets pitching staff. However, what Mets fans will remember him most for was getting the two out rally started in Game Six. 

The Mets would not acquire anything of value from the Expos until right after the Expos were no more. The Mets hired Expos GM Omar Minaya. Minaya would assemble the 2006 team that nearly went to the World Series. He also built a strong farm system that would eventually help the Mets return to the World Series. 

It’s funny to think that Minaya’s big move with the Expos was trading for Bartolo Colon. With Macier Izturis announcing his retirement, Colon is now the last player to ever wear a Montreal Expos uniform to be active in the Major Leagues.  Colon, who was a key member of last year’s pennant winning team, returned to the Mets. With Colon turning 43 this year, it’s possible he can end his career with the Mets. It would be fitting that the Mets once again close the door on the Expos franchise. 

When that door is finally closed, both fan bases will have shared memories of players like Staub and Carter. Both players were beloved by both franchises. It was players like this that will forever link both franchises.  Unfortunately, the Expos are gone to the detriment of Expos fans, Mets fans, and all of baseball.