On a day like today, there are any number of Opening Day highlights we can chose. There is Gary Carter‘s walk-off homer. There is Alberto Castillo‘s and Joe Torre‘s walk-off hits. There is Anderson Hernandez‘s diving catch. There is Cleon Jones‘s two home run game, or the game Richie Hebner went 4-for-5.
There are a few pitcher’s duels between Tom Seaver and Steve Carlton. There are many, many highlights for a Mets team who has the best Opening Day win percentage out of every Major League team. However, there is only one first time the Mets won on Opening Day, and as luck would have it, that game is actually available:
Looking back at it, it is funny to think the Mets actually won a World Series before they won on Opening Day. The Mets would start the game where they left off with first inning RBI singles from Jones and Art Shamsky. Eventually, this game would go extras with reigning World Series MVP Donn Clendenon once again playing the part of the hero with a two RBI single in the 11th.
All things great have a beginning, and it was 1970 which began the Mets Opening Day winning ways. We can at least watch this game until we can get back to 2020 baseball with Jacob deGrom, perhaps the Mets best pitchers since Seaver, toeing the rubber for the Mets.
To a certain extent, the New York Mets and Houston Astros are tied together. Their respective stories began in 1962 when both teams broke through as expansion teams. Up until a point they had some parallels in their history.
In 1969, while Tom Seaver and the Mets we’re making a miracle run in Flushing, the Astros were surprisingly game. They got as close as 2.0 games back in late August before fizzling. Like the Mets, 1969 would be the first year the Astros didn’t have a losing record or a 90 loss season for that matter.
The Mets next World Series run would come in 1986, and they’d have to go through Houston to do it. Interestingly enough, that Astros team would have two former Mets maddening young hurlers, Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott, standing in their way.
When the Wild Card Era was ushered in, the story of the two teams diverged, and their tenuous link splintered. If that splintered it, the Astros move to the AL almost fractured it.
Still, there were some links through the years. Mike Hampton was the 2000 NLCS MVP. There was falling short of the pennant due to Albert Pujols led Cardinals teams ripping your heart out. There was also Carlos Beltran.
Beltran was a future Hall of Famer who played for both franchises. Initially, he fell short of going to the World Series with both teams losing in seven games to the Cardinals. Jeff Suppan was the Game 7 starter in both series.
Finally, Beltran broke through and won the World Series with the 2017 Astros. With that, his return proved fortuitous. The Mets were hoping they’d have a similar experience when they hired him to succeed Mickey Callaway as their manager. That isn’t going to happen.
With the release of MLB’s findings on the Astros sign stealing scandal, the Mets fired Beltran, and the Astros are dealing with the knowledge their World Series title is now tainted.
For Mets fans, we have to accept the role Beltran played. More than that, we know the ties between the Mets and Beltran are probably forever severed, and his Hall of Fame inevitability is now in question. To put it succinctly, we have to deal with the fall of an all-time Mets great.
It’s worse for Astros fans. MUCH worse.
Those fans had to wait 55 years for a World Series. They finally got one, and it was all the sweeter because of home-grown and back-then very well regarded players like Jose Altuve and George Springer.
This is a complete and utter nightmare for any fanbase, and the Astros fans are left to somehow process something which brought them so much joy. This is a sport and team they love, and this was a championship they waited a lifetime to see.
This is likely why we’ll see lashing out and rationalizing of what their team did. That doesn’t make them remotely unique.
Look at Yankees fans glossing over Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and other players. The Red Sox do the same with David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. There are others, but this also shows whether you’ve won 27 times or had to wait 86 years, your fans are going to be protective of those titles and players.
The same is going to be the case with the Astros. Don’t blame them. This is the circumstance they were put in by their favorite team.
They’re left rationalizing and trying to hold onto their only title. That’s the absolute worst position to be in as a fan. As a fanbase, they deserve our sympathy. Of course, it’s difficult to give them that if they choose to be obnoxious about it.
Still, no one wants to be in their shoes, and the fans of the other 29 teams should be happy they’re not them. They should also hope to the extent the Astros weren’t the only ones doing it, their team isn’t found out thereby leaving them to have to do the same rationalizing.
The $57 million renovations of Clover Park, the Mets Spring Training facility and home to the St. Lucie Mets, are far behind schedule. Worse yet, due to cost overruns, some of plans have been altered.
The 360 degree concourse is gone. Worse yet, the Little League fields have been scrapped.
What did remain was a beautiful state of the art clubhouse for the Mets Major Leaguers. With this doubling as the Mets minor league affiliate, it was a nice touch seeing Tom Seaver in his Jacksonville Suns cap, David Wright in his Capital City Bombers cap, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry in their Tidewater Tides caps, and Edgardo Alfonzo in his St. Lucie Mets cap.
The irony there is not only was Alfonzo fired as a Mets minor league manager, but the Mets are also not permitting their minor leaguers to use the clubhouse. This means the clubhouse will lie dormant and unused approximately 10 months of the year and throughout the regular season.
Keep in mind, this comes at a time when Major League Baseball is threatening contraction of minor league teams partially because of the supposed inability to maintain adequate facilities. They’re also making the position they need to contract teams to begin paying living wages to their players.
Somehow, that didn’t stop the Mets from (mis)allocating municipal resources mostly towards a little used clubhouse instead of the originally promised Little League fields or other fan amenities. Part of the reason is the Mets were not willing to contribute more than $2 million over and above the $55 million in municipal funds provided.
Of note, the Mets receive 100% of the proceeds for the naming right. This puts in question how much cash outlay the Mets or an affiliate Sterling entity made.
Even if the Mets did provide the money needed for everything promised when the approval for the $55 million was approved, you can still question the wisdom of allocating resources towards a seldom used clubhouse while not allowing minor leaguers to use it. It seems unnecessarily duplicative to have multiple clubhouses.
As reported by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, the Mets justification for not allowing the minor leaguers use the clubhouse was ” to give minor leaguers a reminder of the status they’re working to earn.”
The position drew much ire and ridicule. Those responding was former Mets pitcher P.J. Conlon, who said, “As if having 6 dudes living in a 2 bedroom apartment isn’t enough of a reminder that you’re in A ball.”
Therein lies the problem. This is just insult added to injury.
The Mets are telling their minor leaguers they don’t deserve a living wage. They then create a great clubhouse, but they won’t let the minor leaguers use it because they need to know they’re lesser people not deserving of better amenities. Better yet, somehow we’re all supposed to believe a nice clubhouse would prevent them from working hard enough to make it to the majors.
In the end, the Mets built a clubhouse which houses Major Leaguers for just two months. That decision came at the expense of giving severely underpaid minor leaguers a little extra comfort, and it came at the expense of Little League fields.
The one thing it didn’t came at the expense of was the Wilpons or the Sterling entities. That expense came from St. Lucie and Clover.
Despite the Mets not having to reach into their pockets, they’re still well behind schedule on the renovations which are not scheduled to be completed until June.
Look, when bad news comes down the pike, you can fall to pieces, or you can opt to try to have some fun and make the best of it. In light of that, instead of making the soul crushing realization we’re never getting rid of Jeff Wilpon, let’s pretend we’re Mel Gibson and start trying to find the one Conspiracy Theory which fits.
Cohen Would Never Be Approved
As previously noted, Steve Cohen has paid the largest ever fine for insider trading, and his business was sued for gender discrimination. Maybe MLB owners took a straw poll, and with it being known Cohen wouldn’t be approved as a majority owner, this was Cohen’s way of saving face.
MLB Wants The Wilpons In Power
With the Wilpons operating the Mets, MLB doesn’t have to worry about a second New York team escalating player salaries. With the debt of gratitude owed to MLB for not removing them from power the way it did with the McCourts and the Dodgers, they gained an ally who will forever do their bidding.
As an example, the Mets went from standing by Carlos Beltran because what he did with the Astros don’t impact his role as the Mets manager to firing him after meeting with the Commissioner’s Office.
Having that level of control over an owner is valuable for a commissioner. It’s more valuable when it comes from the largest market in the world.
Wilpons Were Orchestrating A Scam
Lost in Cohen buying the Mets we’re reports the Wilpons couldn’t obtain their share of the financing for the Islanders new arena. Before the sale to Cohen was announced, the Mets saw a diminution in value, there were fewer assets as collateral to obtain loans.
That goes double with the Mets carrying hundreds of millions in debt.
Cohen’s purported purchase price valued the Mets at over a billion more than where the Mets had it, which could give the Mets more equity to loan against.
Wilpons Can’t Actually Sell
We don’t know what the structure of the loan agreements the Mets have. We don’t know when certain payments need to be made, and/or what a sale of the Mets would trigger. More than that, we don’t know how much the Wilpons use the Mets to keep them and their business solvent. Maybe as the Wilpons looked at a post-Mets life, they realized they needed the Mets more than the money they could receive for selling the team.
Cohen Saw the Books and Walked Away
There are various rumors surrounding the Wilpons and the Mets dire financial state which they haven’t been able to get under control post-Madoff.
Maybe Cohen saw things were far worse than the $350 million in loans and losses of $120 million over the last two years. Seeing things were much worse than we all knew them to be, he might’ve realized this was actually a terrible investment and walked away.
Cohen Is Negotiating
Cohen isn’t an idiot. As much as he wants the Mets and the tax shelter, he’s not going to let the Wilpons push him around in these negotiations and keep control of a team he’s running.
Rather than cave, he’s walking away from the table leaving the Wilpons, desperate for the money to finally give them solvency, coming back to him and negotiating from a position of weakness instead of strength.
There’s Another Buyer
Cohen purchased the Mets without it really being public knowledge the Wilpons were open to selling the team. Perhaps after seeing the deal, some deeper pockets approached the Wilpons and told them if they could get out of the deal, they’d offer s better deal.
Wilpons and Katz Resolved Their Differences
One of the rumored reasons why the Mets were selling the team was the split between Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon over the running of the team. Specifically, the main issue for Katz and the rest of the Katz and Wilpon family was how Jeff Wilpon is running the team.
Keep in mind, this wasn’t the first time Katz wanted to sell. Perhaps, the Wilpons are finding a way to hold onto the majority control of the team while permitting Katz to sell his shares. Maybe, there was a reconciliation between the two which could be the Wilpons buying him out or some other action.
Whatever the case, the Wilpon/Katz dynamic is the driving force of the sale to Cohen, and if the Mets are not sold, it is all because of this dynamic.
Cohen Was Disgusted By The Offseason
So far this offseason, the Mets botched hiring a manager, saw Zack Wheeler go to a division rival, and as a whole, he saw the Mets projected 2020 roster as worse than the 2019 roster which finished the season. Seeing this, he pushed for immediate control or an out.
Jeff Was Never Relinquishing Control
Time-in and time-out, Jeff Wilpon referred to the Mets as business as usual. Case-in-point was when Beltran was fired, Jeff said he spoke with Fred Wilpon, not Steve Cohen. When you look at this offseason, the Mets were operated no differently than in previous seasons. This could be a strong indication Jeff Wilpon is not going to permit anyone to take control of the Mets away from him.
That could include his doing everything in his power along the line to sabotage the deal. His efforts might’ve accelerated when he saw Cohen’s plans to celebrate his taking over the team.
Wilpons Want All The Credit
Around the time of the announced sale, the Mets have announced the building of the Tom Seaver statue fans had begged them to build for years. Jerry Koosman‘s number 36 is being retired. There is a new address honoring Seaver at Citi Field and Mike Piazza in Port St. Lucie. Beloved Mets like Edgardo Alfonzo and Ron Darling are getting inducted into the team Hall of Fame.
It’s very clear the Wilpons want to change the story, and they want the Mets fans to look warmly upon them. There’s also no mistaking their wanting five years of control to get that one World Series title they still don’t have (in 1986, Nelson Doubleday was the majority owner).
In the end, the Wilpons saw the fan reaction to their selling the team, fan overtures about how Steven Cohen was going to get them players like Mookie Betts, and generally how their going away makes everything better. Seeing that, they let their egos get in the way and decided if they’re not getting the credit they think they’re owed, the fans aren’t getting the ownership they deserve.
Fred Worries About Jeff
Since the announced sale to Cohen, Jeff Wilpon has announced his new business venture of stadium consulting at a time when Sterling cannot get financing for the Islanders arena. Jeff’s big financial investment, the NYXL, participates in a league which isn’t producing anywhere near the revenues the owners hoped it would generate.
Overall, Jeff Wilpon continues to show he has little to no business sense, and short of the Mets giving him a guaranteed job, you wonder what happens five years from now. As a worrying dad, Fred might just be willing to forego financial security and a billion in profit just to take care of his son.
There’s Something Horrible Coming
The Wilpons have been caught up in a Ponzi scheme. Jeff Wilpon has fired an unwed pregnant woman, and former Mets players have spoken out about his interference with medical issues. Steve Cohen has his own checkered past including his run-ins with the law.
Everyone involved in this transaction is dirty, and sooner or later, their own personal conduct could lead to a deal completely falling apart. Given their respective histories, there isn’t much you can rule out whether it has legal implications or otherwise.
Frankly, pondering what that could be is much easier to stomach than to accept the cold, hard reality. That reality is the Wilpons have a choke hold on the Mets, they’re incompetent owners, and we are not getting rid of them anytime soon.
With those four additional people, the Mets Hall of Fame will have 31 members. Can you name them all? Good luck!
Casey Stengel Gil Hodges Johnny Murphy Ralph Kiner Bud Harrelson Rusty Staub Ed Kranepool Cleon Jones Tommie Agee Jerry Grote Tug McGraw Mookie Wilson Keith Hernandez Gary Carter Dwight Gooden Darryl Strawberry Ron Darling Edgardo Alfonzo Al Jackson Davey Johnson Mike Piazza
The Mets have continued their recent push to honor their past by announcing they will induct Edgardo Alfonzo, Ron Darling, Al Jackson, and Jon Matlack into the Mets Ha of Fame. This is a very good group, and the Mets should be commended for taking this positive step.
That said, the Mets Hall of Fame is not as representative of the best players in team history, and the Mets still have work to do. On that front, here are five people the Mets should look to induct in the ensuing years.
Believe it or not, the Mets have yet to induct Wright into their Hall of Fame despite his being their all-time leader in many offensive categories, leading all Mets position players in WAR, and being the fourth Captain in team history.
Obviously, it’s only a matter of time before the Mets induct him, and very likely, it’s also a matter of time before the Mets retire his number five.
Leiter is arguably the third best left-handed starter in Mets history, and with his 124 ERA+, he’s definitively a top ten starting pitcher in Mets history. Expounding upon his ERA+, it’s third best in team history behind only Tom Seaver and Jacob deGrom among Mets pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings.
More than the numbers, Leiter was instrumental in those late 90s teams. His 1998 season was one of the best seasons a Mets starter ever had. The following year, he had one of the best starts a Mets pitcher ever had.
In the do-or-die Wild Card play-in game, Leiter pitched a two hit shut out against the Reds. Not only did the set the stage for the magical 1999 postseason run, it was very likely the best regular season start a Mets pitcher ever had in a must win game.
Overall, Leiter was a big game pitcher who was one of the best Mets starters ever. Given his impact on those Mets teams, you really cannot adequately tell the story of that era or the Mets as a franchise without mentioning him.
At the moment, Valentine has the third highest winning percentage, the third most wins, and the third most games managed in Mets history. He was the first manager to ever guide the Mets to consecutive postseasons.
Valentine was the perfect manager at the perfect time for the Mets. He always seemed to know the right button to push, including but not limited to his showing up in the dugout with just about the worst disguise you’ve ever seen after he was ejected.
More than the numbers, Valentine played an important role post 9/11. He was visiting firehouses and was at Shea Stadium when it was being used as a staging ground for the relief efforts. He also stood alongside his players in a NYPD cap as his players took the field for the rest of that season wearing the first responder caps.
The Mets are nearing a somewhat awkward situation with Cohen. The man who is very likely the best play-by-play announcer in the game has been a Ford C. Frick finalist, and he’s likely going to win the award at some point with his being eligible again in three years.
Effectively speaking, this would mean Cohen is in the Hall of Fame (albeit not formally inducted) but not the Mets Hall of Fame. Keep in mind, Cohen is already in the New York State Baseball Hall of Fame.
Mets fans love Cohen not just for his being part of GKR, but also for his having some of the greatest calls in Mets history. The lifelong Mets fan always seems to be able to take a great moment and elevate it.
With his fellow broadcast partners, Keith Hernandez and now Darling being inducted, he should join them in short order. When he’s being inducted, he should be joined by Howie Rose, who is similarly great and also has some of the best calls in Mets history.
Seeing how Alfonzo was awkwardly fired from the Brooklyn Cyclones and just a few months later is going to be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame, there is actually precedent for Beltran being inducted after what has recently transpired.
Looking at his Mets career, Beltran is the best center fielder in team history, and you could argue he’s the best outfielder. Certainly, he’s the best free agent signing in team history.
Beltran ranks among the top 5 – 10 in many offensive categories, and he’s the only Mets outfielder with multiple Gold Gloves. In fact, Beltran joins Hernandez and Rey Ordonez as the only Mets to win at least three Gold Gloves.
Beltran was a leader of those Mets teams, and his 2006 season was one of, if not, the best season a Mets positional player ever has. On merit alone, he deserves induction into the Mets Hall of Fame.
Given recent events, it’s likely we won’t see that happen anytime soon. Beltran isn’t the only worthy individual who may not be inducted soon.
In fact, the same could be said about Nelson Doubleday, who is the only Mets owner with a winning record. With his acrimony with the Wilpons, it’s unlikely they move to induct their former business partner.
There are other individuals who could be considered. Johan Santana has thrown the only no-hitter in Mets history, Robin Ventura had the Grand Slam Single, Howard Johnson is the only player with multiple 30/30 seasons, and Curtis Granderson was a leader on the field and just about the best human being to ever don a Mets uniform.
All of this highlights how the Mets have a rich and full history, and it’s great to see them finally dedicated to recognizing and celebrating it.
If you’ve been to Cooperstown, you’ve assuredly seen the plaques of the players inducted into the Hall of Fame. When you look at them, you’ll see how they’re arranged – chronologically.
Seaver isn’t also kept in a different area than Mike Piazza, Joe DiMaggio, or any other player who was not a first ballot Hall of Famer. No, Hall of Famers are all the same spot, and as noted above, their plaques are only sorted chronologically.
In the end, that’s why it doesn’t matter that one voter withheld a vote from Derek Jeter.
Jeter being unanimous would have been an interesting footnote albeit one which is not mentioned on a Hall of Fame plaque. You could also be a positive step towards stepping away from this first ballot Hall of Famer nonsense.
To that point, it’s quite fitting Jeter’s plaque will be next to Larry Walker‘s. For his part, Walker was elected on his final year on the ballot, and he cleared the 75% hurdle by just six votes.
As an aside, Jeter falling one vote shy could be reason for a renewed call for public voting. After all, if you feel that strong about bucking the general consensus, you should state your case. No, not explain yourself, but let us know what we’re all missing.
More to that point, writers demand accountability from players, and when a player ducks the press, we hear about it, and that player is chastised. The same people who do that should be accountable when it is their turn.
However, that’s besides the point. Whether Jeter was one vote short of being unanimous or his having 90 fewer votes, the end result is the same.
Jeter is a Hall of Famer just like Walker, and when all is said and done, that’s all that matters.
Later today, the New York Mets are going to have a press conference with the City of St. Lucie to announce the street address of Clover Park, the Mets Spring Training facility and home of the High-A St. Lucie Mets, in honor of Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. This is similar to how the Mets worked with the City of New York to change the address of Citi Field to 41 Seaver Way to honor Hall of Famer Tom Seaver.
With respect to Seaver, the Mets old standard for retiring player numbers was induction into the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why up until later this year Seaver and Piazza were the only Mets players who had their numbers retired by the team.
On that point, the Mets have changed their long held standard. At sometime during 2020, the New York Mets are going to retire Jerry Koosman‘s 36. This means an honor which belonged solely to Hall of Famers is now going to be applied to Koosman as well as other Mets whose numbers should be retired in the ensuing years like Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, and David Wright.
While it seems like the Mets pivot on the singular honor given to Hall of Famers is a street address, it does seem like there should be more. After all, aside from Spring Training and the occasional rehab stint, St. Lucie is the domain of minor leaguers only. More to the point, driving down 31 Piazza Way is not going to be a part of attending a New York Mets game.
There’s also the matter of what happens after that. Will there be a 48 deGrom Way in Syracuse or Brooklyn one day? Really at some point, there is going to be diminishing returns on this plan. When you break it down, the only real way to honor the Hall of Famers is to build a statue in their honor.
Currently, the Mets are in the process of building one for Seaver, and there will be date when it will be installed and unveiled. While the Mets are involved in this process, they should also be making plans to build and install a Piazza statue.
It some ways it is fitting given how Seaver and Piazza combined for the last pitch in Shea Stadium, and the two of them walked out together. They also came together for the first pitch at Citi Field. Overall, these are the two giants in Mets history, and having statues for both of them make sense.
In the end, Seaver getting his statue is long overdue, and the Mets finally came to their senses and built one. With the Mets retiring numbers for other players in their history, they should now go forward and build statues for Hall of Fame players so to make them really stand out as the giants in team history. That means after Seaver’s statue is built, Piazza’s should be next.
Back in the days before SNY, way back to the WWOR days, rain delays and rain outs didn’t mean Mets Yearbooks or Rain Delay Theatres. No, it meant Oscar Madison and Felix Unger:
Growing up, there was always a sense of disappointment when you turned on the TV to see The Odd Couple because it meant no Mets baseball. And yet, you got over it because The Odd Couple was a good show.
No, as I get older, I do yearn for the days of The Odd Couple. That goes double when you consider the Mets made shows completely tone deaf shows like Amazin’ Finishes highlighting, amongst others, the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
There was something so uniquely Mets about The Odd Couple, and it stretched farther than Oscar Madison’s Mets cap.
In some ways, Oscar was the old Brooklyn Dodgers and Felix was the New York Giants. They were sent away from their homes, and somehow they came together and somehow had to find a way to co-exist and attract a new wife (new fans) in New York.
It wasn’t always easy, but underneath there was hope. Mostly, there was a life after well worth living. That’s the New York Mets.
In many ways, The Odd Couple was the perfect show to air during Mets delays, and now, according to the TV Guide, it’s gone from the airways.
On a day where we see marathons for classic shows like The Honeymooners and The Twilight Zone, there could be room for SNY to have a marathon for The Odd Couple. More than that, they should have room to bring the show back and once again make it part of the quintessential Mets experience.
When you reach a certain age, you see things once great cease to be so. With sports, it happens all of the time.
Tom Seaver, arguably the best right-handed pitcher of all-time, was a back end starting pitcher at the end of his career.
This is what age and time does. You can lose that proverbial fastball, or in Seaver’s case, his actual fastball. Still, the greats are forever the greats, and sometimes in Hollywood fashion, we see a Billy Chapel moment.
That was last night with Eddie Murphy.
To say he is a comedy legend is a complete and utter understatement. This is the man who is probably the greatest SNL cast member of all-time (more on this in a moment).
His stand-up special, Raw, could be the greatest stand-up special of all-time. If nothing else, the concert is the best selling.
All told, Eddie Murphy could very well be the funniest person who ever lived. Even though he had become a bit of a punchline when he slogged through movies like Norbit, he’s still hilarious, and we were reminded of that last night.
In his return to Saturday Night Live for the first time in 35 years (with the exception of an awkward appearance at the 40th Anniversary special), Murphy showed himself to be the unparalleled comedy genius he is.
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) December 22, 2019
Mister Robinson’s Neighborhood. Buckwheat. Velvet Jones.
He brought all of the characters back in what is easily the greatest SNL episode this century, perhaps ever.
Eddie Murphy is an absolute legend and seeing him reach back for that fastball to help him once again be the funniest man alive was one of the greatest Christmas gifts we all could have received.