(8) Rusty Staub – Staub was a superstar caliber player the Mets acquired who helped the 1973 Ya Gotta Believe! Mets make an incredible run. During that time, he suffered a number of injuries, including a separated shoulder. Despite that, he hit .423 in the series. He was the first ever Mets player to reach 100 RBI, and he held the single season record for well over a decade. He returned to the Mets at the end of his career, and he would effectively be a player/coach for those young Mets teams. He would tie a record with eight consecutive pinch hits and 25 RBI by a pinch hitter. After his career, Staub had extensive charitable work helping first responders.
(9) Tug McGraw – It was McGraw who had the “Ya Gotta Believe!” rallying cry for the 1973 Mets. Even with him being a part of the 1969 Mets, he was best known for that season and run. He was unscored upon in that NLCS, and he was 1-0 with a save and a 2.63 ERA while pitching 13.1 innings over five games in that series. To this day, his rallying cry rings throughout Mets history.
Results of this poll and the Twitter poll will be combined, and the winner of this contest will be updated here.
The number four has had a number of folk heroes and fan favorites in Mets history. The first was Ron Swoboda with his diving catch catch robbing Brooks Robinson of a hit in the 1969 World Series. There was Rusty Staub who gallantly fought while injured for the 1973 Mets.
Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam single, and Wilmer Flores has more walk-off hits than anyone in Mets history. Even with all of these Mets greats, when it comes to the number four, Lenny Dykstra was the best player to ever wear the number.
While he was first called-up in 1985, Dykstra would first establish that as the case during the 1986 season. In that season, Dykstra was pressed into action as an everyday player when Mookie Wilson suffered a Spring Training injury. We would soon find out that not only was Dykstra up to the task, but he would emerge as the Mets second best position player that season (by WAR).
It was more than his numbers. He presented a fire and grit for this Mets team (not that they needed it), and we would see exactly why he had the nickname Nails. Of all the special things Dykstra had done that year, he would save his best work for the postseason – something that would become the hallmark of his career.
In Game 3 of the NLCS against the Houston Astros, the Mets were facing going down 2-1 in the series with Mike Scott slated to start Game 4 and Nolan Ryan in Game 5, the 108 win Mets team was in real trouble. They could not lose this game. Ultimately, they wouldn’t as Dykstra would become the first ever Mets player to hit a walk-off homer in Mets postseason history:
Overall, Dykstra would hit .304/.360/.565 with a double, triple, homer, and three RBI. In a series where the Mets offense really struggled against the Astros pitching, especially the top of their rotation, it was Dykstra who helped keep the Mets afloat for their late inning miracle rallies. Really, next to the pitchers, Dykstra was unarguably the best player for either team in the series, and to some extent, he deserved the MVP award.
Just like he did in Game 3 against the Astros, Dykstra again game up huge in Game 3 of the World Series. After that emotional NLCS, they found themselves down 2-0 heading to Fenway. The Mets were in deep trouble. However, Dykstra would revitalize that Mets team leading off the game with a home run off Oil Can Boyd:
To some extent, that moment would be somewhat tainted by allegations Ron Darling made towards Dykstra. Overall, the off-the-field stuff during his career (steroids) and after his career, marred Dykstra. However, when he played, he was a terrific player who always came up big in big moments.
Again, in the 1986 World Series, Dykstra was terrific hitting .296/.345/.519. From there, he would find himself splitting time with Wilson with the Mets obtaining Kevin McReynolds in an offseason trade with the San Diego Padres. When Dykstra got to play, he was a very good player on the field.
He would again be great in the postseason. In a losing effort, Dykstra was phenomenal hitting .429/.600/.857 with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI. Just like two years prior, pitchers aside, Dysktra was very clearly the best position player on the field.
Seeing how he played in that series and in his Mets career, it is a wonder to everyone as to exactly why Dykstra would be traded during the ensuing season to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Roger McDowell for Juan Samuel. There are not enough ways to describe just how epic a blunder this was for the Mets. This was a franchise altering decision for the Mets and Phillies.
Ultimately, the one thing you can always say about Dykstra was the Mets were always better with him. He was always prepared for the biggest moments on the biggest stage in the biggest city in the world. While he was far from a perfect person, he was the perfect player to play in New York, and if not for him, it is likely we are talking about the Mets only having won one World Series in their history.
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting the best players in Mets history by highlighting the best Mets player to wear a particular uniform number. In this case, this is not saying Granderson was the third best player in Mets history, but rather the best Mets player to wear the number 3.
The Mets Fan
Hi, my name is Ed Marcus – aka:
@LaGrandeRusty .. or RustyJr back when I was a blogger.
How You Became a Mets Fan
I was born a Mets fan. Allegedly, my first Mets game was during the ‘73 playoffs when I was a year-and-a-half.
Favorite Mets Player
Favorite Moment in Mets History
Message to Mets Fans
There is more than life than baseball. It’s just a distraction from the stress of real life . We shouldn’t live and die by every pitch – that’s just not normal . Go outside live life – neither the Wilpon’s not the players care about us . Watch as a fan – not as a fervent acolyte. There’s a difference between a fan and a fanatic.
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:
No uniform number discussion is important to me until 8 goes on the wall.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Carl Ruiz (@carlruiz) March 28, 2018
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.Â 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Fame. For 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:
What about owners? Nelson Doubleday Jr.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.