With COVID19, we don’t get baseball. Instead, we have memories of baseball. Our favorite games, moments, and players. Each team has their own legends who are mostly remembered for their own contributions. In an effort to recognize that, we are going to run down the greatest players in Mets history by going through the uniform numbers.
We begin at number 1, which in Mets history has become synonymous with Mookie Wilson.
The best stretch in Mets history began with him because on September 2, 1980, he batted lead-off and played center field for the Mets. In that game, Wally Backman was also in the line-up, and with that the first two members of the 1986 World Series champion roster were in place.
Much like the Mets as a franchise, Mookie had to fight for everything he got as he was constantly being challenged for playing time. In 1986, that came in the form of Lenny Dykstra, who had a great rookie season. Mookie would eventually force his way into the lineup taking over left from the released George Foster.
That situation became all the more complicated in the subsequent offseason when the Mets obtained Kevin McReynolds from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Kevin Mitchell and prospects. Through this time, he would have to platoon, and he would be frustrated by the process seeking a trade at one point. Still, through it all, he remained a Met.
In fact, Mookie was one of the longest tenured Mets in history. When he was finally traded in 1989 to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was the longest tenured Met on the team. He was also the longest tenured Met when they won the World Series in 1986. In fact, when he departed, only Ed Kranepool, Bud Harrelson, Jerry Grote, and Cleon Jones had played more games than him.
Over his 10 years with the Mets, he was the team’s all-time leader in triples and stolen bases. He was also third in runs and doubles. Really, at that point in Mets history, he was top 5-10 in most offensive categories. This shows how much of an impactful player he was for the franchise. That was perhaps best exhibited in his having the single greatest at-bat in team history:
In that at-bat, Mookie battled like few others we have seen in baseball history. Despite falling down 0-2 against Bob Stanley with the next strike ending the World Series, Wilson would take two pitches evening up the count at 2-2 before fouling off two pitches. The next pitch was the wild pitch.
Looking back at it, it was incredible he got out of the way of the pitch. His getting out of the way of the pitch allowed Mitchell to score from third and to permit Ray Knight to get into scoring position. He then fouled off another pitch before hitting the ball between Bill Buckner‘s legs. In that moment, the Mets made one of the greatest comebacks not just in baseball but sports history.
Mookie’s Mets contribution did not end there. He’d return to the franchise as a first base coach working on Bobby Valentine‘s staffs. On that note, he’d be standing in the first base coaches’ box during Robin Ventura‘s Grand Slam single. That means Wilson was there up the first base line for two of the most improbable postseason comebacks with the Mets facing elimination.
Mookie is also the father of Preston Wilson, the former Mets prospect who was one of the headliners headed to the Miami Marlins for Mike Piazza. This only speaks to everything Mookie was. He was much more than the baseball player who got married at home plate in the minor leagues. He has been a good man and eventually became an ordained minister.
Through and through, Mookie is Mets baseball. He is an important figure in team history, and he is certainly the best ever player to wear the No. 1 in team history.
There is going to be a lot to be said here and other places about the New York Mets and Carlos Beltran “mutually agreeing to part ways,” but one thing remains clear – the Mets were unwilling to weather the storm and stand by their manager.
Despite the Mets profiting from a Ponzi Scheme and selling the team to a person who has paid the largest ever insider trading fine, this is apparently where they draw the line.
Perhaps, it shouldn’t come as a surprise with Jeff Wilpon having been alleged to fire a pregnant employee because he was not married, but the Mets have stood by their people who have committed violent acts against women.
In 2004, the Arizona Diamondbacks fired Wally Backman before he managed one game after discovering his previous arrests for drunk driving and for a fight with his wife.
He’d be unemployable for Major League teams for years, and he’d have to resort to managing in the independent leagues. Eventually, the Mets brought him back to the organization and gave him a job for six years.
The Mets found a way to give him a second chance and stand by him. That applied even as he pushed Jack Leathersich‘s physical limits and might’ve had a significant role in Leathersich’s career altering injuries.
In 2015, Jose Reyes was arrested for a violent altercation in their Hawaii hotel room which led to her being taken to the hospital for treatment. For this altercation, he was suspended for 51 games and released by the Colorado Rockies.
Later in that 2016 season, the Mets signed him. They then picked up his option for 2017, and despite his being among the worst players in baseball that year, they signed him to return to the Mets in 2018.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in his wife being treated in a hospital, his poor play, and his publicly pushing for more playing time, the Mets not only kept him, but we also saw Reyes nominated for the Marvin Miller Award.
Backman and Reyes are not the only two individuals who the Mets have stuck by through the years when it comes to improper and violent acts against women. There’s other players, and Steve Phillips survived sexual harassment allegations.
Through it all, one thing is clear – if the Mets employee harmed a woman, the team would unquestionably have that person’s back even when no one else would.
For anything else, they’ll just see which way the wind is blowing. That’s why Beltran was fired before getting an opportunity to manage the team, and it’s why Reyes was celebrated by this organization.
In his press conference on Thursday, Mets ace Jacob deGrom said if the Mets were not going to extend him he would have to confer with his agents about whether he should have a self imposed innings restriction in 2019. It should be noted deGrom’s new agent, Jeff Barry, has been urging pitchers to impose innings restrictions upon their teams in response to how teams have handled the free agent market the past few seasons.
While many believe it may never come to this, it is certainly possible deGrom or his agents may attempt to impose an innings restriction upon the team. As we saw with Matt Harvey in 2015, drama would ensue should there be another incident. The question for Mets fans in 2019 is whether they would support deGrom in a similar situation this season. Our Mets Bloggers offer their opinions:
Tim Ryder (MMO)
Now THAT’S a conflict of interest. Obviously, deGrom deserves every penny he’s set to make and has every right to protect himself from injury with that type of windfall at stake. However, I want the Mets to win and having JdG on the mound as often as possible significantly improves their chances of success. I really don’t think it’s going to get that far, though.
Metstradamus (Metstradamus Blog)
Agree with Tim. I don’t think it gets that far. But I whole heartedly support Jacob’s right to be pissed off.
Editor’s Note: Metstradum had an excellent article on that very topic, which you should read.
Mark Healey (Gotham Baseball)
Last time I checked, Jake is getting paid 17 million dollars to throw baseballs this season. He’d better throw 200 innings with a smile on his face, and I don’t want to hear about his contract again. Yes, the Mets need to extend him, and make him a Met for life, but c’mon.
I’ll add that when he does get his deal, he should send an envelope to Wally Backman, because if it weren’t for Wally, Jake would have been used in the BP when the Mets brought him up. It probably cost him his job, but Wally called Terry and told him Jake had to be a SP and to fight hard for it.
Greg Prince (Faith and Fear in Flushing)
I expect Jacob deGrom to pitch as best he can, as often and as much as he is called on to do (which in this era is never enough as we would choose). He has been a pro’s pro for five seasons and see no reason to believe that will change because of negotiation-related posturing. His integrity seems as Cy Young-caliber as his body of work.
If he wants to preserve his arm after the Mets clinch and before the playoffs, I’d definitely support that.
James Schapiro (Shea Bridge Report)
DeGrom has certainly earned an expensive extension, and he’s a good season or two away from becoming a top five-or-so pitcher in Mets history. But shutting down in September could be a lot to ask of the Front Office and of fans if we’re in a playoff race. If we’re 20 games out on September first, then it might be in everyone’s best interests — deGrom, the FO, fans — to shut him down and save his arm. But if we’re in a spot where the standings might come down to a few games either way, I think the opposite is true: I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests for deGrom to pack it in early. Fans will hate it, obviously, and management won’t like it either, and if deGrom goes against his team to shut himself down, you have to think it will damage relations between his agents and the Mets, and also hurt his standing going into Free Agency.
Having said all that…I don’t think he’ll shut himself down if we’re in a spot where we need him to pitch. He doesn’t seem like the type. But with the Mets…who the hell knows?
Bre S (That Mets Chick)
deGrom has earned every penny given to him. He received a raise in arbitration earning $17 million this season. I am very conflicted about this topic because I think he deserves a big pay day, but I also want him to pitch down the stretch, especially if we are in a playoff race. This reminds me another time in Mets drama history. Matt Harvey in 2015 recovering from TJS was asked by his agent, Scott Boras to limit his innings to preserve himself for the future. With all the drama and headlines late that season, he ended up pitching deep into the season and then the World Series. There are clear differences in Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom: Injuries, attitude and behavior. deGrom is a great Mets player. He is loyal to the team. I want him signed long term but its very tough to say I would want him to shut it.
While I do not like deGrom having a self imposed innings limitation, I do have to respect him doing what is best for him and his career. So long as he gives the team sufficient notification of his intent, the Mets should be able to set forth a plan where deGrom will be in a position to pitch down the stretch and into the postseason. Given what deGrom said at the press conference, the Mets should be making plans for that very scenario RIGHT NOW.
At the end of the day, if the Mets don’t plan for this contingency, and they instead try to pressure deGrom into pitching well past his innings limits, like they did with Harvey, that’s on the Mets – no matter how much they try to spin it.
That said, if deGrom doesn’t make himself available to pitch a late September game or refuses to pitch in the postseason, then he should be subjected to whatever scorn comes his way. Hopefully, no one will be in that position.
Overall, no matter what your position is on supporting deGrom, please support the writers who take their time to contribute to this roundtable. Their work is excellent, and they should receive your support.
With the Mets saying isn’t their type of player, the question needs to be asked about what exactly is the Mets type of player. Well, here are a few examples.
Jose Reyes – beat wife until the point she needed to be taken to a local hospital
Bartolo Colon cheated not just the game with a PED suspension, but he cheated on his wife. To top it all off, he didn’t pay sufficient child support for his second family.
Francisco Rodriguez – assaulted the grandfather of his children in three Mets family room at Citi Field
Jenrry Mejia – first ever player to be banned from baseball due to failing three PED tests
Bret Saberhahen set off firecrackers around reporters and shot bleach at them with a water gun
Vince Coleman threw firecrackers at fans which would injure a child
Wally Backman brought back to organization as a minor league manager after he had been fired by the Diamondbacks after domestic “disputes” came to light
The overriding point here is the Mets type of person wants is a hot head who beats people weaker than them. To that extent, the Mets could not have given Machado a bigger compliment.
While it is not an official policy, the Mets organization will only retire the numbers of players who enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Mets cap. That is why the only Mets players who have their numbers retired are Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. If the Baseball Hall of Fame honored Gary Carter‘s choice, he would have gone into the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap, and as a result, his number would have been retired as well.
That would have pleased many Mets fans who want to see his number be retired. More than Carter, Mets fans seem to want to see Keith Hernandez‘s and David Wright‘s numbers retired. With respect to those two, chances are neither enter the Hall of Fame, and just like Carter, chances are Hernandez is inducted into the Hall of Fame wearing a Cardinals cap.
Much of the Carter and Hernandez push is related to both players being key veterans on the 1986 World Series team. Oddly enough, the same case has not been made for Davey Johnson.
Back in 1984, Frank Cashen tabbed Johnson to be the Mets manager. He was entasked with leading a Mets team to not just win a World Series, but really to just win games. The Mets had not been over .500 since 1976, which was Seaver’s last full season with the Mets. Seaver was back in 1983 only for the Mets to lose him again.
The winning happened immediately. Behind Rookie of the Year Dwight Gooden, and a young core which included Darryl Strawberry, Wally Backman, Ron Darling, and Sid Fernandez, the 1984 Mets finished second place in the National League East with a 90-72 record. This began a string of eight straight seasons where the Mets would finish second or better in the division. Johnson would oversee six of those seasons.
The 1985 Mets won 98 games, which was then the second most wins the Mets had ever accumulated. They were that close to winning the division. Entering 1986, Johnson would declare the Mets were the team to beat, and his team would back him up. Their 108 wins is the third most ever by a National League team.
When you include the postseason, the 1986 have won more games than any other National League team over the past century.
Yes, this does speak to how great the 1986 Mets were, but it also speaks to Johnson’s managerial abilities. He was ahead of his time using data and statistics to inform his decisions. Yes, those 1980s Mets teams were talented, but it was Johnson who got everything out of those talented teams by optimizing his team’s lineups.
This is why Johnson would become the first ever National League manager to have 90+ wins in each of his first five seasons.
He’s also the only Mets manager with two 100 win seasons. He joins Gil Hodges as only one of two Mets managers to win a World Series, and he was the first Mets manager to go to two different postseasons.
Johnson is the Mets all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. He is second only to Terry Collins in games managed. He is second to Bobby Valentine in postseason wins, which is partially a function of Major League Baseball adding an additional postseason round when they added the Wild Card in 1994.
Despite all of these records and his impact on the franchise, Hodges and Casey Stengel remain the only two managers who have had their numbers retired by the Mets. Given how the standards to retire manager numbers (to the extent there is any) is far lower than for players, it is odd how nearly 30 years after Johnson managed his last game, he has not had his number retired.
His number not being retired may become more of an issue going forward as once again he is a candidate on the Today’s Game ballot for the Hall of Fame. With his having a better winning percentage than Hall of Famers like Bobby Cox (a manager who also has just one World Series to his credit), and his being only one of two managers in MLB history to lead four separate franchises to to the postseason, there is a real case to be made for Johnson’s induction.
If inducted, he is likely going to enter the Hall of Fame as a member of the Mets. If so, any and all excuses to not retire his number have gone by the wayside. Of course, that is unless you are not of the belief Johnson has not done enough to merit having his number retired anyway.
Given how his number has not been retired, it is certainly still up for debate whether it should or should not be retired by the Mets organization. Going forward, when debates happen,,when taking into account standards already set forth coupled with the impact on the organization, Davey Johnson should probably be first in line when it comes to having his number retired.
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.
Now that the All Star Game has come and gone and the non-waiver trade deadline two weeks away, Major League Baseball is in full pennant drive mode. Teams are assessing their needs and targeting the players who could fulfill those needs. Given the state of the Mets offense, the team needs a bat more than anything. Fortunately for them, they don’t need to go outside the organization to acquire that player as the team is recalling Michael Conforto.
If Conforto is the player he is supposed to be, the player we’ve seen glimpses of, it’s doubtful any team could add a player who will have the impact he could have on the Mets.
When Conforto was called-up last year, he hit a respectable .270/.335/.506 with nine homers and 26 RBI in 56 games. Extrapolating that over a full 162 game season, Conforto would’ve had 26 homers and 75 RBI. Seeing Conforto over the course of the second half last year coupled with his play in the postseason, that seemed like it was his floor.
Conforto’s April seemed to justify everyone’s high expectations. Conforto jumped out of the gate hitting .365/.442/.676 with four homers and 18 RBI. He was on pace to hit 29 homers and 133 RBI. Those numbers may seem unrealistic in a player’s first full season, especially for a player who never played in AAA, but they didn’t for Conforto. He was that good of a hitter.
Conforto forced Terry Collins to move him up to the third spot in the order. He was clearly the team’s second best hitter behind only Yoenis Cespedes. Conforto was well on his way until disaster struck.
From May 1st on, Conforto would hit .148/.217/.303. He would only get eight hits in his last 75 at bats. Everyone had a theory as to what happened. Some blamed the platoon system getting him out of a rhythmn. Others thought the game Madison Bumgarner dominated him and the rest of the Mets lineup got into his head. There was also the cortisone shot he needed in his wrist and his falling into bad habits at the plate. Whatever the case, he all but forced the Mets hands, and he was demoted to the minor leagues.
To his credit, Conforto put the work in he needed to down in AAA, and he has seemingly returned to the player he was; the player we all thought he could be. During his first ever stint in AAA, Conforto hit .344/.420/.623 with three homers and 15 RBI in 16 games. While his manager Wally Backman did sit him against two lefties, Conforto did get at bats against lefties going 6-16 with three walks and four RBI. More importantly, Conforto got back to being more patient at the plate and using the whole field more.
Additionally, Conforto played some games in right field thereby giving Collins’ more outfield alignment options, which should hopefully ensure Juan Lagares never again steps foot in any position other than center field. It should also help Collins figure things out with Cespedes stating he needs to play more left field with his injured quad.
Overall, Conforto has done what he needed to do in the minors. He’s ready to come back. He’s coming back at the right time too with Cespedes’ balky right leg and Brandon Nimmo struggling.
Conforto should be an even bigger boost to the Mets than he was last year. In fact, given what we’ve seen, given what he’s capable of doing, he will help the Mets more than any player any team adds to their major league roster prior to the trade deadline.
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsmerizedonline.com
Currently, MLB and many of their full season affiliates are either at or have already had their All Star Break. At each and every level, the Mets had a minor league hitter named to their level’s All-Star Game. Listed below is a synopsis of the Mets’ organizations leaders at the break:
Class A – Columbia Fireflies
- AVG: David Thompson (.294)
- OBP: Vinny Siena (.435 – League Leader)
- SLG: David Thompson (.474)
- OPS: Vinny Siena (.834)
- R: Vinny Siena (53)
- H: J.C. Rodriguez (71)
- 2B: Dash Winningham (23)
- 3B: Kevin Kaczmarski (7)
- HR: Jeffrey Diehl (9)
- RBI: David Thompson (58 – League Leader)
- SB: J.C. Rodriguez (14)
- All-Stars: Vinny Siena, David Thompson
- Promotions: Vinny Siena, David Thompson, Kevin Kaczmarski
Class A Advanced – St. Lucie Mets
- AVG: Wuilmer Becerra (.319 – League Leader)
- OBP: Kevin Taylor (.386)
- SLG: Tomas Nido (.471)
- OPS: Kevin Taylor (.833)
- R: Champ Stuart (49)
- H: Amed Rosario (82)
- 2B: Wuilmer Becerra (17)
- 3B: Amed Rosario (8 – League Leader)
- HR: Kevin Taylor (7)
- RBI: Amed Rosario (40)
- SB: Champ Stuart (25)
- All-Stars: Amed Rosario, Wuilmer Becerra, Tomas Nido
- Promotions: Amed Rosario, Phillip Evans, Champ Stuart
AA – Binghamton Mets
- AVG: Matt Oberste (.290)
- OBP: Derrik Gibson (.366)
- SLG: Dominic Smith (.436)
- OPS: Dominic Smith (.777)
- R: Derrik Gibson (44)
- H: Dominic Smith (85)
- 2B: Matt Oberste, Dominic Smith (17)
- 3B: L.J. Mazzilli (5)
- HR: Dominic Smith (10)
- RBI: Matt Oberste (34)
- SB: Derrik Gibson (8)
- All-Stars: Matt Oberste
- Promotions: Niuman Romero
AAA – Las Vegas 51s
- AVG: T.J. Rivera (.348 – League Leader)
- OBP: Brandon Nimmo (.409)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron (.564)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron (96)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron (35 – League Leader)
- 3B: Brandon Nimmo (7)
- HR: Johnny Monell (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron (69)
- SB: Roger Bernadina (12)
- All-Stars: T.J. Rivera, Travis Taijeron, Wally Backman (manager)
- Promotions: Brandon Nimmo
- AVG: T.J. Rivera LV (.348)
- OBP: Vinny Siena COL & STL (.413)
- SLG: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- OPS: Travis Taijeron LV (.953)
- R: Travis Taijeron (61)
- H: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (107)
- 2B: Travis Taijeron LV (35)
- 3B: Amed Rosario STL & BNG (11)
- HR: Johnny Monell LV (14)
- RBI: Travis Taijeron LV (69)
- SB: Champ Stuart STL & BNG (26)
* stats are updated through July 13, 2016
Editor’s Note: this was first published on metsminors.net
Speaking of which, I was reminded of the first real time in my life when the Mets and Star Wars intersected. It was this Halloween when the Mets played a World Series game and my son went as Yoda for Halloween:
Noah Syndergaard – Luke Skywalker
- Both were raw until there were leaders who showed him how to harness that potential. Both eventually became leaders themselves helping bring everyone to the promised land. Also, let’s face it, both can get a little cocky.
Matt Harvey – Han Solo
- Mets fans still question if he’s truly on their side, but when the chips are down he comes through.
Bartolo Colon – Jabba the Hut
- Both are large and in charge
Curtis Granderson – Lando Calrissian
- I know what you’re thinking. It’s lazy to compare the Mets lone black player to one of the few black Star Wars characters. However, consider that Lando initially aided the Evil Empire only to later join the good guys and blow up the second Death Star. If that’s not Granderson leaving the Yankees to join the Mets to have an incredible postseason, I don’t know what is.
Jenrry Mejia – Jar Jar Binks
- They’re supposed to be on your side, but all they do is just ruin everything. You just want them to go away before they do something else stupid.
David Wright – C3PO
- Both have been there through everything. Both seemingly fall apart a little too often. Both have helped in more ways than you can count.
Terry Collins – Obi Wan Kenobi
- Both were exiled. Both were called upon to mentor and protect young prospects. Both found redemption in this role.
Lucas Duda – Wedge Antilles
- Both survived battles no one expected them to survive. For Duda, it was first base. For Wedge, it was blowing up the Death Star. Both have seen their roles and contributions to their causes being overlooked and disregarded even if both were vital to the cause.
Jacob deGrom – Princess Leia
- Both are rocking the long locks. Both had their abilities overlooked for another. Both were instrumental in all that was accomplished. I just don’t want to see deGrom in the golden bikini.
Jeurys Familia – Mace Windu
- Mace Windu constantly appeared in dangerous situations in order to save everyone, much like Familia did this year. Both were successful against all odds until their last chapter. Also, when you’re played by Samuel L. Jackson, you’re just awesome. Familia is awesome.
Wally Backman – Uncle Owen
- Both are entrusted with the future, but both ultimately will not be the ones that bring everyone to the next level.
Wilmer Flores – R2D2
- Overall, there’s no getting rid of either. They’re indestructible. They’re in the center of everything. They’re also fan favorites.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Chewbacca
As I think of more, I’ll add to the list or amend the existing list. I didn’t add a Yoda because as you see above, you’re not doing better than that Yoda. If you have a suggestion, I’ll be happy to add it to the list giving you full credit. For example, here’s Jason Fry’s point-of-view:
@MetsDaddy2013 Good stuff man. I see JdG more as Luke and Noah as Chewie, but diversity of views is interesting. Your Wedge cracked me up.
— Jason Fry (@jasoncfry) December 17, 2015
Yes, this is the same Jason Fry who wrote The Weapon of a Jedi, which is available for sale now.
By the way, don’t be that guy. Keep the spoilers to yourself. Don’t ruin the movie for everyone.
With Bob Geren leaving the Mets for the Dodgers, I’m sure there’s going to be a groundswell for the Mets to make Wally Backman a coach on the major league squad. Why?
First off, Backman has seemingly done a good job with the AAA team. He sends players up major league ready. He and Terry Collins have a great rapport. That type of synergy can only help the major league club. This is more important to the Mets than Backman on the bench or at third base.
Furthermore, Backman does not replace the role Geren fulfilled with the Mets. Geren was the stats based coach. Geren was also the coach who worked so well with the young catchers:
Geren a loss for the Mets. Worked extensively with the catchers, gave TC a different perspective in dugout.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 2, 2015
Neither of those areas are within Backman’s forte. He’s a good minor league manager. It’s where he helps the Mets the most. The idea isn’t to reward him for this. The idea is to keep him where he’s best suited. The idea is to keep him where he best helps the organization.
If Backman wants to walk, let him. It’s not like there are other teams begging to bring him over to their organization. He didn’t get one interview for any of the managerial openings. He hasn’t been even mentioned as a possible option as a coach on another major league team.
Who should take his place? Previously, I’ve advocated for Juan Uribe, who was a leader on the team last year. However, I’m assuming he’s going to want to play another year. I’m sure there will be names floated from all across the Mets organization. Whoever it is, I hope that player can have the same positive impact had with the Mets.
More so, I hope Backman stays in Las Vegas.