Tom Seaver

Meet The Mets Fan: Rudy Sheptock

The Mets Fan

My name is Rudy Sheptock, and I am on Twitter as @RudyOrangeAndBlue.  I am a full time Minister and a part-time DJ! My daily midday Radio Show is called Rudy On The Radio and it’s heard Monday-Friday from Noon until 2PM on LIFT FM here in Cape May County, NJ. I have been married 36 years and have four kids and four grandkids. I love social media and enjoy the many friendships I have made via Twitter and Facebook.

How You Became a Mets Fan

I became a die hard Mets Fan in the mid 1960s because of my Dad. He grew up a Brooklyn Dodgers Fan, and when they and the Giants left for California, there was no way my Father was going to root for the Yankees. So when the Mets came along, he began to root for them and passed his love of the Orange and Blue on to me! Because I never do anything halfway – I was in for life!

Favorite Mets Player

My first Mets Autograph was Gil Hodges, but my first hero was Tom Seaver. I patterned everything I did after Tom. I would listen to the Mets on the Radio and would be perfectly in-sync with Seaver even though I could not see the game. I wore either 14 or 41 all thru my playing days. I also taught both my sons the drop and drive style of Seaver’s pitching. I have tons of Seaver memorabilia all over my house! I cried the day they traded him to the Reds! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

Favorite Moment in Mets History

While my oldest Son was born in 1986 and that magical season, nothing will ever compare to the Summer of 1969! After so much losing, the Mets were finally winning! And I loved Gil Hodges and the innocence of that era for me cause I was 10 years old! Seaver’s almost perfect game! I was at Banner Day that August when the Mets swept the Padres 3-2 in both games. The double-header that the Mets won against the Pirates where both games were 1-0 with Jerry Koosman and Don Cardwell driving in the runs! Ken Boswell singling in Cleon Jones against the Expos to put us in first place! And the day we won the World Series! I was in Baseball Heaven! I am so glad I was alive and well because that Team was my Team!  Cleon and Tommie Agee! Jerry Grote and Donn Clendenon! I remember riding my bike thru the old neighborhood screaming We Won The World Series! Childhood at it’s best! Even the Mets on the Ed Sullivan Show!

Message to Mets Fans

Real Mets Fans are a unique breed! We are never confident. We always expect the worst and are pleasantly pleased when our Team comes through. We despise the Yankees! We love Bob Murphy. We miss Shea Stadium! The chant of Let’s Go Mets still gives us Goosebumps and we can still hear Jane Jarvis play the organ in our souls! We love Wilmer Flores and can’t understand why the Wilpons are still around! We can call our Mets Bums but will defend them to the death! We bleed blue and orange! Love to hear Put it in the Books and will always stick around for the Happy Recap! I was a Mets Fan at 7 years old and now at almost 60- I still love them!

Early Review Of Possible Mets All Stars

The 2018 MLB All Star Game in Washington, D.C. is about a month and a half away, and All Star voting on the horizon, the Mets will look to send as many as four players to the Midseason Classic:

Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Stats: .313/.352/.523, 15 2B, 3B, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 1.0 WAR
All-Star Appearnces: 2011, 2012

Cabrera jumped right out of the gate, and he quickly emerged as an early season MVP candidate. When the Mets have needed a big hit, by and large, it has come from Cabrera.

Among qualifying second baseman, Cabrera has the most doubles. He is also in the top five in hits, batting average, OBP, SLG, OPS, homers, and RBI.

Cabrera’s dip in May has weakened his attempt to become a third time All Star. It’s not going to be an easy path for him with some steep competition coming from Ozzie Albies, Scooter Gennett, and Cesar Hernandez.

Brandon Nimmo, OF
Stats: .260/.408/.519, 4 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB, 1.2 WAR
All Star Appearances: None

Like Michael Conforto last year, one thing that may complicate Nimmo’s ability to become an All Star is whether or not he will appear on the ballot. While that may prevent him from being elected a starter, his play on the field may force his way onto the roster.

If Nimmo had enough plate appearances to qualify, he would lead all National League outfielders in OBP. His SLG would also be the fourth best in the National League, and quite impressively, his .927 OPS would be the second best behind just A.J. Pollock, who is also going to be out for about two months with a broken left thumb.

Ultimately, this may be too difficult a group to crack for Nimmo as he is battling bigger names like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon, who are arguably having better seasons. There may also be a push for a player like Nick Markakis, a good player for a first place team, to make his first All Star appearance in his 13 year career.

Jeurys Familia, RHP
Stats: 2-2, 2.16 ERA, 14 SV, 1.040 WHIP, 11.2 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2016

Among closers, Familia leads the league in games finished, and he is third in saves and ERA. Another consideration, is for a Mets team who has expected a lot from their relievers, Familia ranks third among closers in innings pitched.

These numbers are easy to overlook for many Mets fans when you consider Familia has only converted 14 of 18 save opportunities, and they are still hung up on some postseason failures from the past.

As it pertains to Familia, those stats may no longer be sufficient. As time progresses, we all look less and less to saves as the true measure of a reliever’s worth. Certainly, the emerge of firemen like Josh Hader are going to complicate things for the selection of relievers for the National League bullpen.

Jacob deGrom, RHP
Stats: 4-0, 1.52 ERA, 1.010 WHIP, 11.7 K/9
All Star Appearances: 2015

Right now, deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League, and he is a lock to represent the Mets in the All Star Game. If the game was not being played in Washington, you could make the case he should start the All Star Game. However, the presence of Max Scherzer will stand in the way of that happening.

What is interesting to note with deGrom is if he doesn’t step aside for Bartolo Colon in 2016, we would be talking about a pitcher who has been in All Star in three out of the last four seasons. That’s something we saw from Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. As this season continues to unfold, you can make the case deGrom deserves consideration of being grouped with those names. If not them, then at least in the conversation as the third best Mets starter of all-time.

In the end, it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, will be joining deGrom. Up until recently, you could have made a case for both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, but recent hiccups may be enough to prevent them from being All Stars in their own right. That said, another impressive run from them, or really anyone, could have them joining deGrom as Mets representatives this year.

 

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.

 

 

Matt Harvey, Thank You And Good Luck

In September 2015, Scott Boras tried to intervene and limit Matt Harvey‘s innings in what could be perceived as an attempt to save the pitcher not just from the Mets, but also from himself.  There would be a modified schedule and some skipped starts, but Harvey eventually took the shackles off because he wanted the ball.

Harvey always wanted the ball.

He wanted the ball in the NL East clincher against the Reds.  Instead of the five innings he was supposed to pitch, he pitched into the seventh because, well, he wanted to get ready for the postseason, and the Mets were lucky he did.

Harvey won a pivotal Game 3 of the NLDS.  With that series going five games, it was Harvey who got the ball in Game 1 of the NLCS.  In front of a raucous Citi Field crowd, Harvey set the tone for that series.  As he stepped off the mound with two outs in the eighth, he wasn’t tipping his cap.  No, he was pumped up like all of Citi Field was because he knew what we all knew . . . this team was going to the World Series.

When telling the story of Matt Harvey, we will forever go back to Game 5.  With the Mets team trying to rally back from a 3-1 series deficit, Harvey wanted the ball for the ninth.  Terry Collins initially wanted Jeurys Familia, but he relented, and he gave Harvey the ball.

You’d be hard pressed to find a time in Citi Field history louder than when Harvey took the mound in that ninth.  A blown lead and Game 5 loss later, you’d never find Citi Field more despondent.

Now, looking back, that Game 5 was the microcosm of Harvey’s Mets career.

He came in, and he gave us all hope the impossible could happen.  He brought us all along for the ride.  There was no one we wanted out there more than Harvey.  And yet at the very end, despite all the hope and brilliance he brought, we were all left in disbelief, and yes, some in tears, over the how and why Harvey was still out there.

Mainly, Harvey was there because despite no matter what anyone said, Harvey wanted to be there, and he was not going to let anyone stop him.

And you know what?  Back in 2013, no one could stop him.

In 26 starts, Harvey was 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.931 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9.  His 2.01 FIP that year would not only lead the Majors, but it would be one of the 10 best over the past 100 years.  His WHIP still remains a single season Mets record.  It may have seemed premature to put him in the conversation with Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, but really, it made sense.  Harvey was just that good.

He was the reason to watch a terrible Mets team, and on May 7th, he may have pitched the game of his life.  If not for an Alex Rios infield single Ruben Tejada could not turn into an out, Harvey likely pitches a perfect game.  Instead, he had to settle for a no decision despite allowing just one hit and 12 strikeouts in nine innings.  Just file that away next time someone points out his win-loss record.

That game was the signature Harvey moment.  He took the mound with a bloody nose.  He was reaching near triple digits with this fastball.  He was becoming a superstar.  He was making Citi Field his playground.

When we look through the history of Citi Field one day, it will be Harvey who emerged as it’s first superstar.  He was the one who brought the crowds.  He started the first All Star Game at Citi Field.  Arguably, he pitched the two best games ever pitched by a Met at that ballpark.

It would be that 2013 season Harvey broke.  He tore his UCL, and he needed Tommy John surgery.  Mets fans everywhere who were once so hopeful were crushed.  There were many low moments in Mets history since the team moved to Citi Field, but that one is among the lowest.

But when he came back in 2015, hope returned.  He may not have been 2013 great, but he was great.  For all the criticism over his innings limits, he would throw more innings than any pitcher in baseball history in their first season back from Tommy John.

Looking back at that 2015 season, Harvey gave the Mets and their fans everything he had.  He pitched great in the regular season, and he was even better in the postseason.  Just like in 2013, he was trying to will the Mets back to prominence.  He was taking an organization on his back and trying to win a World Series.

It broke him in 2013, and apparently, it broke him again in 2015.

Really, when he stepped off that mound in Game 5 of the World Series, Harvey was done as we knew him.  In 2016, he’d be diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome requiring season ending surgery.  Last year, Harvey was rushed back to the rotation before he was physically ready, and he suffered a stress reaction.  This year, he was healthy, but lost.

Looking back, no one will ever know if Harvey listened to Boras if he’d still be The Dark Knight instead of a guy now looking for a job.

The real shame is how Harvey went out.  The same guy who heard the loudest ovations from the fans, the same one who heard Mets fans serenade Stephen Strasburg with “Harvey’s Better!” chants, was booed off the mound the last time he ever pitched on what had once been his mound.

There are some who will find behavioral excuses why Harvey faulted, and maybe they do exist.  However, you’d be hard pressed to find a pitcher who was at the top of his game in November only to completely lose it by the next April.  Most pitchers get a transition period to figure things out.  Harvey’s cruel fate was he had more injuries followed by his getting about a month and a half before being given an ultimatum.

In what once seemed impossible, Harvey was designated for assignment.  Sure, Mets fans always expected him to leave one day, but we all thought it would be Harvey who spurned the cheap Wilpon family, not the Wilpons kicking him out the door despite the team still owing him around $4 million.

Much has been made of the Mets crop of starting pitchers, the group who brought them to the 2015 World Series.  Make no mistake, Harvey was the best out of the group.  Better than Jacob deGrom.  Better than Noah Syndergaard.

Really, he was better than anyone not named Seaver or Gooden, and if things had broken right, Harvey could have been a Hall of Famer.  He was that good when he was healthy, but he wasn’t healthy making him this generation’s version of Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, or Jon Matlack

Harvey being designated for assignment wasn’t a shock.  With every struggle on the mound, and yes, some personal issues that emerged, he was getting closer and closer to this point.  It doesn’t mean this doesn’t hurt the Mets fan, the ones who got to experience in the joy of seeing the real Harvey pitch, any less.

There will come a day down the line where all will be forgiven, and we can all just look back and appreciate all Harvey did for the Mets.  We can take a step back and marvel how he potentially sacrificed his entire career to win that one World Series.  Really, he has never been thanked or appreciated enough for that.

Now, he is looking for a new team and a new fan base.  Hopefully, Harvey rediscovers some of that magic he once had, and hopefully, he gets those cheers again.  He’s certainly earned them.

And when he does return to Citi Field, whether it be this year or the next, let’s hope he gets that true standing ovation he deserved, the one he might’ve received on Thursday had we all known it was going to be his last game in a Mets uniform.

No matter what happens, Mets fans everywhere should wish him the best of luck.  There was a time we showered him with all the love we had, and he returned the favor by giving us everything he had.  Everything.  Here’s hoping he gets everything he is looking for in his next stop.

I know no matter what he does, I’m rooting of him.  More than that I appreciate Harvey for all he did as a Met.  Really, best of luck to you, Matt Harvey.

Mets Second Game Record Not as Good as Opening Day Record

Much is made of the Mets having the best Opening Day record among all 30 Major League teams.  That record expanded to 37-20 in what was Mickey Callaway‘s first game as the manager of the Mets.  Considering the Mets have had more losing than winning seasons in their history, we know those good times do not keep rolling on throughout the season.

Looking throughout Mets history, as the excitement of Opening Day fades, so does the Mets record.  In the 56 year history of the Mets, the team’s record in the second game of the season is 28-28 (.500).

The record does get a little dicier from there.  In those previously famed 36 wins, the Mets have followed them with defeats in 20 of those games (.444).

When it comes to the Cardinals, the Mets are now 6-2 against them on Opening Day.  The Mets are also 2-6 against them in the second game of the season.

When looking through the Mets managerial history, there have been 12 managers who made their debut with the Mets on Opening Day.  Of those 12 managers only Joe Frazier debuted with the 1976 Mets by winning his first two games.  That year, the Mets would finish 86-76.  That would also be the last year the Mets would have a winning record until 1984.

Frazier and the Mets would start the 1977 season going 15-30, and Frazier’s managerial record would drop to 101-106.  Of course, a large part of that was his losing both Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman, both of who were traded the previous season in the “Midnight Massacre.”

As an aside, Frazier, Willie Randolph, and Yogi Berra are the managers to begin their Mets managerial careers on Opening Day to have a winning record in their first season as manager.  Willie’s and Yogi’s Mets both lost the second game of the season.  Unlike Frazier, both Willie and Yogi would take Mets team to the postseason in their second season as the Mets manager.

Of course, past is only prelude.  It is not determinative of what will happen in the future.  Just because the Mets won their opener, it does not mean the Mets have just a 44% or 50% chance of winning that game.  Really, with the Mets sending Jacob deGrom to the mound, you’d have to believe the Mets odds of winning are much better than that.

Having watched the Mets win on Opening Day, it seemed like this was a different Mets team.  It felt like this was a team that is going to surprise us this season and really set themselves apart from Mets teams from years past.  That’s part of the fun of Opening Day.  Who knows how long this feeling will last?  Perhaps, we will find the answer later today.

Mets Blogger Roundtable: Opening Day Memories

With the Mets 2018 season beginning today, we are all hopeful that this will be the first Mets team since 1986 to win a World Series.  If history is any judge, fans will depart Citi Field with that feeling as the New York Mets do have the best winning percentage on Opening Day.  Whether the good feelings and warm memories continue from there is anyone’s guess.

As you look to turn on the television or head to the ballpark, we thought we would share some of our Opening Day memories with you in the latest edition of the Mets Blogger Roundtable.

Roger Cormier (Good Fundies & Fangraphs)

Two words: Collin Cowgill (That’s not my actual answer)

I think I’m going to cheat here. The first game that came to mind for favorite Opening Day memory was the Mets’ home opener in 2000. It was their first game played in North America, if that helps? The Mets split a two-game set in Japan the week before and then faced off against the Padres at Shea, and I was there. It was my first time attending a home opener, and I had to bend the rules that day too, seeing as I was, technically speaking, scheduled to continue my high school education that afternoon. A couple of friends and I cut class, took the 2/3, transferred to the 7, sauntered up to the ticket window, bought four tickets, and enjoyed a 2-1 victory. I brazenly put the schedule magnet giveaway on the refrigerator, and as far as I know was never caught. Please do not tell my mother.

Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)

My favorite Opening Day memory was Tom Seaver‘s 1983 Opening Day start.  It was tremendous.

The details of Seaver’s homecoming were detailed in this Sports Illustrated piece.

Joe Maracic (Loud Egg)

This one has me stumped since I have not been to a Mets opening day since the Shea days. One that stands out is the chilly home opener for Tom Glavine. A 15-2 Mets loss I believe. Good times.

Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)

I cut school to go to Opening Day in 1980. My mother wrote a note to the teacher saying “sorry my son was absent. He went to Opening Day. P.S. the Mets won 5-2.” The teacher let me off the hook but only because the Mets won. I cut school in 1983 to see Seaver’s return as a Met. I cut school in 1988 to see Darryl Strawberry hit a HR on Opening Day, then left early to get back to theater rehearsal, and I had to platoon style elbow crawl my way under the director so she wouldn’t know I was gone. Luckily they never got to my scene yet so I was out of trouble. Until we left for the day and the director said “How was the game?” As many times as I cut school for Opening Day, it’s a wonder I can put a sentence together.

Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)

I’ve been fortunate enough to attend 17 Opening Days/Home Openers (18, counting the first home game after the 1981 strike, which was functionally a second Home Opener), my favorite among them the 2001 Home Opener, when the 2000 NL pennant was raised, we were handed replica championship flags on our way in, Tsuyoshi Shinjo introduced himself to us with a homer, Mike Piazza socked two, the Mets obliterated the Braves and, not incidentally, the weather was perfect.

But with all due respect to the thrill of being on hand to, as Howie Rose says, welcome the National League season to New York, my core Opening Day memory is from 1975, when I convinced a friend to skip Hebrew School and watch the rest of the first game of that season.

The game began while we were still in shall we say regular school (sixth grade). Our teacher put the Mets and Phillies on the classroom TV. One wise guy tried to switch to the Yankees. Out of pique, the teacher switched it off.

Fast forward a bit, and my aforementioned friend and I went to my house to catch a little more of the game before we had to get to Hebrew School. This was Seaver versus Steve Carlton, and it was such an occasion that I said to him, “I’m not going to Hebrew School today.” He was convinced to not go, either.

We watched to the end and were rewarded for our truancy. Seaver pitched a complete game. Dave Kingman homered in his first game as a Met, and Joe Torre (also a new Met) drove in the winning run in the ninth, or what we would today call walkoff fashion. The whole winter was about reconstructing a dismal 1974 squad and hoping Seaver would be healthy. For one day, everything clicked as we dreamed.

The other thing I remember distinctly was Bob Murphy hosting the TV postgame show, first time we ever saw anybody but Ralph Kiner in that role. I learned decades later that Ralph was holding out for an increase in his Kiner’s Korner deal, which he eventually got.

There’ve been more dramatic Opening Days since, but that one will always be Opening Day Like It Oughta Be to me.

There’ve been some unfortunate Opening Day/Night results over the years, but there’s nothing about beginning a baseball season that doesn’t have at least one inherent saving grace to it. At last, we are in baseball season.

Mets Daddy

There are two that readily stick out in my mind.  The first was 1995, the first year after the strike.  It was also my first Opening Day.  I remember the tickets were cheap, and the crowd was rowdier than usual with many people running onto the field.  It first seemed like protest, and then it just seemed to morph into a drunken stupor.  John Franco blowing a 9th inning save chance, and the Mets blowing leads in the 13th and 14th innings were really just afterthoughts to all the mayhem and the fact baseball was finally back in our lives.

My favorite Opening Day was the 2006 Opening Day.  With the Mets obtaining Carlos Delgado and Paul Lo Duca in the offseason, there was an anticipation the 2006 team could be a special one.

That day certainly was.  Xavier Nady, the guy Omar gambled on when he traded Mike Cameron to the Padres, immediately made himself welcome to fans with an RBI double.  David Wright was showered with MVP chants which only reverberated louder when he homered.  Anderson Hernandez made an incredible defensive play at second.  Then Billy Wagner entered the game to “Enter Sandman” to close out the game.

I remember feeling this was a team capable of winning a World Series.  I also remember my Dad taking the longer way home so we can get our free Bobbleheads from P.C. Richard and because we could hear Mike and the Mad Dog, who were in rare form, going bezerk over the audacity for Wagner to use Mariano Rivera‘s entrance song.

One fun thing about doing this Roundtable is I discovered Joe, Roger, and I were all at the 2003 homer opener.  This is part of my fun in doing these Roundtables, and I hope some of the fun you have is getting a snippet of the fine work from some fellow Mets fans.  I hope this encourages you to visit their sites.

Meet The Mets Fan: Oh Murph’s Harry

The Mets Fan

For those that don’t know you, please tell Mets fans who you are. I’m just Harry, or Bill, or Koos, your choice. I’m an Engineer and a Mets fan, and a semi retired Softball coach. I used to scribble a few words and do a photoshop or two for as a ghost writer for BS Upton (he took all the credit) until they were taken over by a Chinese Internet start up company.

How You Became a Mets Fan

By accident. My Dad wasn’t much into sports, but my brother was. He is a Big Yankees fan. I watched too many games starring Horace Clark. One day when I was probably in second grade I told my Mother I wanted a baseball hat and Jacket. She bought me a Mets hat and jacket. Everyone I knew laughed at me, those cruel Yankee fans. I didn’t even know the Mets existed. This was probably 1965. A few years later when the Yankees were terrible, my brother left the TV unguarded and I found the Mets channel WOR. I liked them much better and started watching. That was 1968.

Favorite Mets Player

I have to go with Tom Seaver. He was and still is the best ever.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

The last game of the 1969 World Series. Jerry Koosman had a great game. I was vindicated as a Mets fan. I forgave my Mother for buying me Mets gear. The world was a wonderful place. Second place is the gets by Bill Buckner ‘86 series game.

Message to Mets Fans

Know the stats, but trust your eyes. Keep your head in and eye on the ball. If this team wins in your lifetime you will have no better feeling for your suffering will be rewarded.

Meet The Mets Fan: Faith and Fear in Flushing’s Greg Prince

The Mets Fan

I’m Greg Prince, co-author of Faith and Fear in Flushing, the blog for Mets fans who like to read, founded with my friend and partner Jason Fry, February 16, 2005.

How You Became A Mets Fan

I became a Mets fan in the late summer of 1969, a propitious time for a six-year-old on Long Island to fall in love with baseball. The excitement they were stirring in the papers attracted me, so I tuned in and never tuned out.

Favorite Mets Player

My favorite Met is Tom Seaver. He was my first favorite and remains my forever favorite.

Favorite Moment in Mets History

My personal favorite moment is Melvin Mora scoring on a wild pitch in the ninth inning, October 3, 1999, to send the Mets to at least a Wild Card play-in game. But it’s hard to not objectively rank Mookie’s roller up the first base line No. 1 in franchise history.

Message to Mets Fans

My message to Mets fans is threefold: Hang in there, gang; spring is coming; read Faith and Fear.

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.

 

 

Five Aces Are No More and Never Were

When you go through Mets history, there are certain dark moments of Mets history which continue to haunt Mets fans.

The 1977 Midnight Massacre which saw a vengeful and frankly inept front office trade Tom Seaverand Dave Kingman. This would beget Grant’s Tomb.

The 1992 Mets were dubbed The Worst Team Money Could Buy. The Mets first real foray into free agency would see the team add Eddie Murray, Willie Randolph, Dick Schofield, Bill Pecota, Bret Saberhahen, and the prize of the offseason free agent class Bobby BonillaUnder the guise of 1990 American League Manager of the Year Jeff Torborg, the Mets would go 70-92.

There would not be hope again until Generation K – Paul Wilson, Jason Isringhausen, and Bill Pulsipher.  With Isringhausen bursting out of the gate in 1995 going 9-2 with a 2.81 ERA in his first 14 starts, Mets fans anticipation was at a fever pitch.

The funny thing is due to a myriad of injuries to all three pitchers, the trio dubbed Generation K would never appear in the same rotation.  Over time, they would be surpassed and traded away for spare parts.  To put it in perspective, the best player the Mets would get in exchange for the trio would be Rick White.

Fast forward 20 years and Mets fans have dreamed about this generations crop of pitchers winning their first World Series since 1986.  While not as clever as Generation K, they had their own nickname – The Five Aces.  Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler.

They were going to scoff at the 1971 Orioles pitching staff and their measly 20 wins apiece.

Those 1990s Braves teams were going to laughed at for producing just three Hall of Fame pitchers.

This wasn’t “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain.”  It was Matz and Thor and We Got Three More!

Instead, what we got was Matt and Jake and All Five Pitchers Ache.  Essentially, it all came off the Wheeler.

Each and every single one of them would go down with injury.  Most of them went down with two or more.  As a result, much like Generation K, these five pitchers have never appeared in the same rotation.  Worse yet, in some sick cosmic twist of fate, last year would be the first year all five would start a game in the same season, and the end result was the worst ERA in team history.

Finally, this year was supposed to be the year.  Everyone was shut down at a some point last year to help them get ready for this year.  The team brought in Mickey Callaway, Dave Eiland, and a whole new medical staff.  It was all set up for them.

And then, the team signed Jason Vargas.

Yes, given their respective health issues, the Vargas signing made a lot of sense.  However, with him getting a two ear deal, it may just kill the dream because so long as Vargas has a rotation spot, we will not see the Five Aces pitch together in the same starting rotation. With Harvey’s impending free agency, this was the last chance, and it is going by the wayside.

Maybe it is for the best because as we saw in 2015, so long as we have three completely healthy, this team can go to the World Series.  That more than the Five Aces pitch in the same rotation is the goal.  Still, not seeing it happen once leaves you a bit melancholy.

At the end of this run for the Five Aces, we are ultimately going to be left with Vargas and Montero Where Did Our Five Aces Go?