[Steinbrenner] is probably the greatest owner there ever will be in sports. He loved people and he loved his players. Anyone that puts on a Yankees uniform is family to him. He doesn’t turn his back on his players, like the other organization across town. It’s just the reality, it’s real. The players on the ’86 championship team, we don’t even deal with the Mets. It’s not Fred Wilpon, it’s the new thing.
We’ve never been back. I never want to go back, I’d rather stay with the Yankees than deal with the Mets. It hurts us. It hurts what they’ve done to the players I’ve seen. What they did to Ray Knight, what they did to Gary Carter. Those were key players that gave so much. They laid their life on the line those years.
That “new thing” is likely referring to Sandy Alderson, whose acrimonious relationship with Wally Backman led to his resignation.
With respect to Knight, he had a bitter contract dispute with the Mets after he won the 1986 World Series MVP. It would not be until last year’s 30th anniversary celebration that Knight could bring himself back to the team.
Carter was a successful manager in the Mets minor league system winning multiple Manager of the Year honors. Despite his success in the minors, he was never given an opportunity to even interview for a managerial position with the Mets.
This is an issue not too dissimilar from the problems Mookie Wilson had with the organization. In his autobiography, he described how he felt disrespected when he was fired as the team’s longtime first base coach without so much as an explanation.
Sadly, the list goes on and on. The most recent examples include the Mets choosing not to retain Bob Ojeda as an analyst and, again, Backman’s resignation.
Reading between the lines, the tense relationship between Backman and Alderson is indicative of the problems the 1986 Mets have with an organization that has seen Fred Wilpon become more and more separated from the daily affairs of the team.
This is not a new thing for Strawberry as last year he voiced similar issues. During his turn appearance with Boomer & Carton, Strawberry said on Citi Field, “There’s nothing there for me. It’s an empty place.” (Neil Best, Newsday).
For Mets fans, Citi Field has been an empty place when it comes to honoring the team’s history. There are no statutes for the team greats, and the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum has been partially converted to a game used shop. There is also the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a huge space dedicated to a great man – who never played for the Mets.
While these issues have bothered Mets fans since the ballpark opened in 2009, the issues go much deeper and are more personal for Strawberry. Revisiting the issues other 1986 Mets have had with the organization, he hardly seems to be alone.