Mets Merized Online » doc gooden Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:45:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Letter From Mets: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Wed, 30 Apr 2014 16:33:18 +0000 mets-letter-2

By now, most of you should have received the email from the Mets, encouraging you to prove that you are “real” fans and to sign a pledge of support.

The letter, which was signed and sent by Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Cleon Jones, Ed Charles, Jerry Koosman, and Doc Gooden, read as follows:

To True New Yorkers -

The victory you earn is sweeter than the victory you’re given.

When we won in ’69 and ’86, we, the players, didn’t do it on our own.

We made history together — players and fans — through a gritty, even stubborn, belief in this club against all the odds.

When we’ve won, we’ve proved through the way we did it that true New Yorkers are Mets fans.

So today we’re issuing a call to all Mets fans: Show your New York Mets pride — stand up and say you’re a true New Yorker.

As players, we can tell you that what happens in the clubhouse and what happens in the stands — players and fans together, believing in each other — makes a tremendous difference with what happens on the field.

Your support matters; we wouldn’t have won without you. So we’re calling on you to give today’s club the same chance we had.

If you agree that the fans have a role to play in making amazing things happen, add your name to this letter:

One fan — maybe you — will present the signatures on this letter and the messages from fans to the team, before the Mets’ first Subway Series game at Citi Field. If you add your name, it could be you.

We’ll see you there. Let’s Go Mets!

The reaction from most of the fans on Twitter bordered on outrage, apathy, bewilderment and an overall feeling of, “I give up.”

The Mets marketing people just can’t seem to get out of their own way and their lame attempts at connecting with fans does more to disparage them than to reign them in.

Perhaps Mike Vaccaro wraps it up better than I can when he tweeted the following:

After hanging with this team through thick and thin over the last five years of dreadful baseball, poor performance, and the myriad of public relations disasters, do they really doubt our loyalty? Really?

The truth is that over the last few years it is us the fans who deserve proof of the team’s commitment to the fans, and NOT the other way around.

We want proof of the ownership’s loyalty to this team. Our team. A team that feels like it’s been hijacked ever since Fred, Jeff and Saul became majority owners.

That’s the real problem right there.

The fans of this franchise should all get medals of honor for how incredible and steadfast their support still is despite all of this organization’s bumbling debacles.

How about you sign our petition that you stop blaming us for everything that is wrong with this franchise?

How about you sign our petition that you stop telling us you won’t invest another dime on this team unless we come to Citi Field and sell the place out forty times a a year?

How about you sign our petition that if the Mets dont win a championship in the next three years, you’ll sell the team and get the hell out of Dodge?

It’s been nearly 30 years since our last championship, and we’re all still here – rooting and waiting – and you have the gall to ask us to pledge our loyalty?

What do you call the last three decades of our lives?


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Enter Sandman: The Mets’ Three Year Journey to Irrelevance Mon, 02 Dec 2013 15:59:02 +0000 The GM Meetings in Orlando, home of Disneyworld, came and went and while none of us honestly expected the Mets to make a lot of noise, let’s take a trip to FantasyLand for a moment. Imagine if the Mets DID grab headlines. Visualize Sandy wheeling and dealing and returning to New York with Jose Reyes. And Carlos Beltran. Let’s say Alderson outwitted Brian Sabean (go with me on this) and convinced the Giants GM to give us back Angel Pagan. And just for the hell of it, Alderson also reacquired R A Dickey as well. We’d sure be feeling confident about 2014. Yet, all of these players were already on the Mets roster when Alderson took over as GM.

Carlos+Beltran+Washington+Nationals+v+New+VgPE3ydVODOl - Copy

Enter Sandman:

When he filled the shoes once worn by good ol’ M. Donald Grant, Alderson told us he needed to rebuild the team. He advised us it would take several years. Personally, if you’re going to rebuild something, Beltran, Reyes, Pagan and Dickey would be a pretty decent foundation to build upon, definitely better than what we have now—basically David Wright, plus a 24-year old ace who will miss a year with elbow surgery, and unproven rookies who are always a crapshoot. Especially with the Mets.

Since Sandman entered, our fanbase has been divided into warring factions. Some urge patience, though those numbers are dwindling after suffering many casualties. Others, like myself, want to win quickly. (Granted, I’ve never had patience.) My question is this: Alderson has asked us to wait several years for his magical mystery plan to take hold. My question is WHY?

sign man miracles

Baseball is a different game now than it was in 1962. When the Mets came into existence along with the Houston Colt 45’s, expansion teams were filled with the worst of the worst. Has-been’s and never will-be’s. When Jerry Koosman induced Davey Johnson to fly out to Cleon Jones in LF on October 16, 1969, that sealed what has become known as a ‘Miracle.’ The Mets had been a laughing stock for seven seasons. Now in their eighth year, they shocked the baseball establishment. It was partially considered a miracle due to the fact that an expansion team had risen from the depths of futility to the summit of the mountaintop in just 8 years. No team had ever accomplished so much in so little time.

Darryl Strawberry (L) with Mets General Manager Frank Cashen.

Those were the days, my friends…

Baseball was also different in 1980. Frank Cashen took the GM reins and promised within five seasons the Mets would be winners. It took seven, but by that fifth year, the Mets were in a pennant race for the first time in a decade. And although there was no immediate improvement in our won-loss record, one could sense the darkness lifting. The optimism in 1982 was far greater than it was in 1978, though our win total was similar. Free Agency was in its infancy when Cashen took over. Yet, in his third season, he signed one of the premier hitters in the league, George Foster, and teamed him with the return of Dave Kingman. Suddenly, two of the most prolific home run hitters in baseball were in Flushing. In Cashen’s fourth year, 1983, he brought back Tom Seaver, mostly for publicity and to boost attendance every fifth day. He acquired a proven winner in Keith Hernandez. And Darryl Strawberry, Cashen’s first pick in the 1980 draft, made his debut.

Can you picture Alderson acquiring an impact player like Keith in 2014, his fourth year? Do we have someone equal to Darryl coming up next year, followed by another Dwight Gooden the year after?

In 1962, it took a while because the nature of the game dictated that. Same goes for 1980. In today’s environment it does NOT take several years to win. If a team wants to win—and win quickly—it is attainable. Yet, Sandman is applying 1980 rules to the 21st century.

In 2012, Boston won 69 games and finished 26 GB. The following year their win total increased by 40% and they became World Champions.

Cleveland won only 68 times in 2012. In 2013, they were victorious 92 times and found themselves in the post-season.

2010 saw the Dodgers, whose front office was a dysfunctional mess, finish below 500, 12 games back. In just three years, the Dodgers had the defending World Champion Giants buried by the All-Star Break on their way to the post-season.

The 2010 Pirates lost over 100 games. In three years, after hiring a new manager with a proven track record of success, the Pirates increased their win total–57 to 72 to 79 to then 94, good enough to play in October. In three short seasons, the Pirates have transformed their team from a joke to where they are now poised to challenge STL for many years to come.

These teams can turn things around quickly. But the Mets cant?

The Marlins, in just their fifth season, became Champions. They’ve won the same number of championships in 21 years as we’ve won in 52 years.

Tampa Bay made their debut in 1998 and floundered for their first decade. Yet, in Baseball’s toughest division—with no fan support and playing in a small market–they’ve made it to the post-season four times in the last six years. The Rays have appeared in as many post-seasons in six years as the Mets have appeared in the last 28.

The Diamondbacks came into existence in 1998. The very next year they were division champions. And two years after that, in just their fourth season, they captured the World Series. The D-backs have won five division titles in 16 years while the Mets have won the same amount of division titles in 52 years. The D-backs started with NOTHING and won it all in four years. Alderson started with Reyes, Beltran, Dickey, K-Rod and Pagan. Yet, three years later, we are worse off.

alderson sandy wilpon

“Don’t worry, son. Sandy has a plan that will ensure you’ll keep the Mets.”

Enter Sandman in 2011. The Mets needed to only fill a two maybe three holes. Three years into the Alderson regime, we don’t have a closer, are still trying to find a shortstop, still searching for two starters (they have no plans to replace Harvey, any two rags will do), have an unsettled situation at first base, and our outfield is a bigger mess than my bedroom when I was seven years old.

Could any of you have imagined that after three years, that Chris Young, Ruben Tejada and Eric Young will all be everyday players?

So again I ask, “Why? Why do we need to wait for ‘the plan’ whereas fans in Boston, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Phoenix do not?

Unlike Pittsburgh, where things improved dramatically in three seasons, in Flushing things have gotten worse over that same time. In 2010, the Mets won 79 games. Since Alderson’s arrival, our wins have dropped to 77, 74 and 74. And lets face facts. If it wasn’t for Matt Harvey in 2013, we would have lost close to 100 games. With three seasons in the books, Alderson’s Mets have averaged 75 wins, 24 games out of first, and own the longest string  of consecutive losing seasons in baseball.

For five straight seasons, of which the three most recent Sandy (AKA The Fixer) has been at the helm, the Mets have finished under 500. The last time the Mets have had such a dubious stretch was 1962-1968. We did post six consecutive sub-500 seasons from ’91 to ’96 and seven from ’77 to ’83. However, those stretches included strike-shortened seasons and no one can guarantee the Mets would have finished below 500 in 1981 and 1994 for a full 162 games. (The Mets concluded the abbreviated 94 campaign just 3 games under.)

And honestly, does anyone think 2014 will end our streak of irrelevancy?

empty seats citi field turner

Where did all the Mets fans go? Where’s Mets Twitter?

Another telling sign of the Alderson regime is not only the decreased TV ratings but also the declining attendance. In five seasons, Mets attendance has shrunk by 33%, dropping from nearly 3.2 million in 2009 to just over 2.1 million this past season. This is the first time in team history attendance has decreased five straight seasons. But that’s what happens when you get rid of ‘The most exciting player in baseball’, Jose Reyes, and expect to pack in the fans with the human windmill, Ike Davis and the King of Grittiness, Justin Turner.

If Alderson wants to save money AND get fans back to Flushing, why not bring Ron and Keith down from the booth? Sure, Ron may be 53 but since only Dillon Gee won more than 9 games, I’m sure Darling would be a good #3 at least. Ronnie—put down the microphone and start loosening up! And after you walk through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to your seat, who would you be more excited to see playing 1B: A 60 year old Keith or a 27 year old Ike Davis? 60 or not, I guarantee Mex would strike out less than Ike Davis. (Just joking…kinda.)

Frank Cashen had a “plan” also. And when his plan was put in place, he was the architect behind the most successful decade in team history. Sandy Alderson has a plan…though I’m not sure what it is. He wants to rebuild the team. I guess the way things are looking we should be ecstatic if the Mets finish 500. That may very well end up being Alderson’s claim to fame. If the Mets are lucky, Alderson’s legacy will be getting the Mets back to complete mediocrity. Even as of now, that seems like a major accomplishment.

Presented By Diehards

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Cheering For Dwight Gooden… Again Tue, 16 Jul 2013 12:23:02 +0000 doug flynn

I was 12 years old in the summer of 1978 when I heard the coolest news ever… My friend Lee called and told me he’d heard from a friend of a friend who knew where Mets second baseman Doug Flynn lived. And it was just down the street from me!

True, this wasn’t Jerry Koosman or Steve Henderson or Craig Swan. But it still was a real live Mets player.

Lee and I both lived in Bayside and Doug Flynn (supposedly) lived in the middle of three buildings that neighborhood kids referred to as ‘The Towers’ right off the Cross Island Parkway overlooking Little Neck Bay.

Lee had heard that Flynn lived on the 14th floor but didn’t know the exact apartment number. The two of us spent a day forging a plan. How would we find out which exact apartment? How would we get passed the doorman?

The following day we put our plan into action. It was one of the only times in my youth I went out without my Mets hat. I didn’t want to give myself away and spoil our flawlessly devised plot.

“What do you kids want?” asked the burly doorman, eying us suspiciously.

“I’m looking for a friend of mine who lives here,” I said, scanning the endless sea of names in the tenant’s directory.

I thought it was pretty clever…until he replied, “Oh, yea? What’s his name?”

Uh oh. “We can’t remember,” Lee responded as I continued checking the resident listing. I didn’t see “D. Flynn” anywhere.

With that, we were told to get our you-know-what off the property. Well, so much for meeting a Met. However, one name I caught a glimpse of was “S. Woods” in apt 14-K. As Lee and I regrouped we decided that had to be him. A code name. Woods. What are benches made of? Wood. And who was the Cincinnati catcher Doug Flynn played with before coming to NY as part of the Tom Seaver trade? Yep, Johnny Bench. It was all coming together. The extra proof was the apt #. 14-K. K…as in strikeout. Coincidence? I think not.

We spent the afternoon attempting different ways to bypass the doorman. (Doesn’t this guy ever take a break?) We offered to help little old ladies inside with their packages so we could gain access. We looked for a way to climb the fence into the pool area. A back door? A laundry room? Something???

starsky hutchWe snuck into the underground parking lot, exhaust fumes filling our lungs. Occasionally we’d get sidetracked by our own imagination, making guns with our hands as we darted between parked cars and “shot” at each other like we were Starsky and Hutch.

Then, it dawned on me. Even if we did manage to meet “S. Woods,” aka Doug Flynn, what would we say? I mean, Lee was 13, I was 12. And Doug Flynn was a real live major leaguer.

Our plan failed. We never got to meet the mystery resident in 14-K.

A few days later I was riding in my elevator. An elderly neighbor with white hair who stood at four foot nothing casually mentioned to another passenger, “I was having breakfast in the coffee shop in Bay Terrace yesterday and guess who was sitting across from me? Doug Flynn.”

I was shocked, flabbergasted. The only thing I could think of to say was, “What did he eat?”

“Bacon and eggs,” Miriam responded.

Bacon and eggs? This was a letdown. Bacon and eggs? I eat bacon and eggs, too. Surely, being a professional ballplayer he should be eating different food than me. Maybe even some baseball-related food, like a hot dog. Or Cracker Jacks. But no, Doug Flynn, professional major leaguer, was just like me.

12138878-doc-bookA few days ago I concluded reading Doc: A Memoir by Dwight Gooden and Ellis Henican. That 12 year old kid scampering around an underground garage like Starsky is a fading memory. But after reading Doc’s memoir, I was once again reminded that ballplayers are people, too. They have issues to deal with. They have families. They eat bacon and eggs.

We come home from our jobs, turn on a ballgame and watch others do their job. We venture out to Flushing to escape our own lives for a few hours to watch others work. But those guys down on that field are people just like us.

Okay, maybe not exactly like us. While I still have some moderate success in the batting cages at my local miniature golf course, I’m not exactly David Wright. When Dwight Gooden, star pitcher of the Mets, walked into a Strip Club in the 80′s, his fame and popularity opened the door to going home with a few strippers.

Me? While I love writing for this site, when I advise a stripper, “I’m a blogger for Metsmerized,” I don’t get the same result as Doc did. Instead, I get an arched eyebrow, a curious look and, “Look, dude, do you want this lap dance or not?” So, yes, I guess ballplayers are a little different in some ways.

Joe reviewed this book a few weeks back and did a far better job that I ever could.  I found Doc’s memoir to be painful, disturbing. A tough read. But also inspiring. I read the nearly 300 pages in three sittings, stopping every once in a while to let some of what I just read ‘sink in.’

If you’re looking for a “baseball book” this is not it. If you’re hoping for a behind-the-scenes tell-all into the boozing, brawling and bimbo-chasing bad boys of 1986, this is not for you. The entire glorious 86 season is summed up in one chapter. Game Six gets 2 paragraphs.

10-dwight-doc-gooden-mets-low-pants-high-stirrups-worst-sports-uniform-innovations - CopyThis is not about the great Doctor K–Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner, starter of an All-Star game and surefire lock for Cooperstown. This is a book about Dwight Eugene Gooden, a man possessed by the demons of addiction—who just happened to be a baseball player.

Not many of us now first-hand what it’s like to be a baseball player. It’s not like we have family members or second cousins who play. However, many of us do have a close relationship to addiction. How many people reading this knows someone—a friend, family member—who battles some sort of addiction, be it alcohol, substance abuse, gambling, etc…While it’s difficult to relate to a “baseball player” it’s easier to relate to someone waging an internal struggle to NOT reach for that beer, to NOT do that line of Coke.

As I read this painful but moving story of a man’s life, a man who battled addiction brought on by a painful childhood and untold wealth, fame and popularity by being the top sports figure in the biggest city in America, I felt myself humbled. While reading this excellent work of non-fiction, at times I laughed. Other times, I was reminded of things I’d forgotten. I felt my blood boiling as Dwight recounted the way he was treated by prison intake guards during one of his incarcerations. And yes, I shed a few tears.

I even—as hard as this is to believe—gained a new respect for George Steinbrenner. I never thought I’d say this (or write this) but ‘King George’ was a class act.

In his words I found Dwight to be honest, humble, forthright and direct. He opened his heart and bared his soul for the entire world to see. He doesn’t make excuses for what he did. He doesn’t point fingers like that other player from the Mets he is frequently associated with. He accepts responsibility.

In Dwight’s blunt self-assessment of his life and his career, the words he uses leave no doubt. He is a man filled with sorrow. Not just for the heartache he brought upon his children, his wife, his parents, his family. But also for us Mets fans. You can’t help but get the feeling he is filled with guilt and regret. Dwight was 19 when he arrived in New York. A kid. But old enough to realize the hopes of an entire city rested on his teenage shoulder and in his teenage arm.

tom seaver dwight gooden

When Mets fans look back at the Dynasty that never was, it seems we view Doc as the poster child for everything that went wrong. I, too, had unfairly blamed him as one of the reasons.

I now feel it’s necessary NOT to blame Doc for what didn’t happen in the 80’s but to thank him for what he gave us.

In the summer of 91, my wife and I were living in Philly for a short time. One Saturday afternoon we drove up the Jersey Turnpike, across the Bronx and walked into Shea. The Mets were playing the Giants that day. As we sat in the mezzanine level along third base, I leaned over, tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to #16 on the mound. “One day,” I said, “we’ll be able to tell our grandkids that we saw the great Doc Gooden pitch.” We never had kids, grandkids and a decade later the marriage itself ended. But I did get to see the great Doc Gooden pitch.

I was too young to really appreciate the greatness I witnessed when Tom Seaver took the mound. And while Matt Harvey is a hell of a pitcher, he still has a ways to go. I can, however, confidently state that in forty years of rooting for the Mets I never—NEVER—saw a pitcher dominate a game the way he did.

By the time I finished reading this book, I was worn out. Reading about the roller coaster he endured left me physically drained. I can’t begin to imagine what it was like for him.

In the 80’s, I found myself cheering for Doctor K, Doc Gooden.

Now, in something that’s ultimately more important than defeating the Cubs or Cardinals, I found myself cheering for Dwight Eugene Gooden. Not the prodigy, not the young star who would lead a baseball franchise out of the dark wilderness. Rather a man, a human being, who learned and made me once again realize that sometimes the game of life is more important than the game of Baseball.

I’ve always been a fan of Doc. Now I’m a fan of Dwight.


You can purchase a copy of DOC: A Memoir for less than the price of a nosebleed seat at good ol’ Shea. Or you can follow us on Twitter at @Metsmerized for a chance to win a FREE Signed Edition of Doc during tonight’s All Star Game.

Just tweet us your favorite Doctor K moment and include the hashtag #DocGooden

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Matt Harvey’s Similarities To Tom Seaver Uncanny Fri, 10 May 2013 16:32:13 +0000 One of my greatest wishes as a relatively young Mets fan is wanting to have seen Tom Seaver pitch.

Sure, I’ve seen the highlight videos and World Series tapes that portrayed his dominance, but it’s still not the same as seeing the best pitcher in Mets’ history actually toe the rubber.

However, albeit still very early, we younger Mets fans are seeing firsthand what it was like when Seaver took the mound in the form of Matt Harvey – just throwing it out there that I was also too young to remember Doc Gooden as well.

Harvey has been dominant this year, and his body of work is very similar to that of Seaver.

Harvey has a slightly bigger build than Seaver when he pitched, but Seaver still fit the mold of a powerful right-hander.

Both have explosive fastballs and aren’t afraid to challenge hitters up in the zone – again going back to at least what I’ve seen from Seaver on the tapes.

Both have at least one good secondary pitch: Seaver mostly a slider and Harvey a curveball, slider and change-up. Harvey already has shown great command of each of these pitches, just like Seaver demonstrated with his slider.

Certainly, the mental approach by each pitcher resembles one another. That “bulldog” mentality if always wanting to win allowed each to experience success very early in their careers – and we naturally hope Harvey’s success continues for plenty more years.

But of all the similarities between the two, the fact that each came up with an inept offensive team is just uncanny.

The Mets really have never been known as an offensive team, but to not somehow scratch together a run when your pitcher is working on a perfect game really is embarrassing. Yes, Hector Santiago threw a very good game Tuesday night for the White Sox, but that’s where you have to dig deep and dent the plate at least once.

I looked at Seaver’s rookie year in 1967 and compared it with the first few months of Harvey’s career. Seaver made 34 starts during his Rookie of the Year campaign and finished with a 16-13 record.

However, he had just a 2.76 ERA, and in those 34 starts, he only gave up four or more runs eight times. He also threw 18 complete games, but we’ll overlook that for now since today’s game is much different than back then – especially when dealing with pitch counts and innings limits.

As for Harvey in 17 career starts, he’s given up four or more runs in a start just once and has a collective 2.07 ERA. Yet his career mark is only 7-5.

Tom  Seaver 1

Now I don’t want to only point the finger at the offense for a lack of production. There likely were times – albeit few – that the Mets actually scored a comfortable amount of runs for Seaver, and the same will be true for Harvey eventually.

It may not even out fully, but there will be times when Harvey doesn’t have his best stuff and the Mets score enough runs to get him the win.

But just imagine if Seaver and Harvey had any sort of consistent run support. Is it so much for a pitcher to ask his team to score four runs per game? If that was the case for Harvey, he could potentially be 11-1, not to even mention the no-decisions.

Ok, it’s definitely not as cut and dry as that, but what I’m saying here is that it’s just the typical Mets way to have an ace-type pitcher yet not be able to score a single run.

Let’s hope that changes as Harvey continues to progress. Based on what we saw Tuesday night, he may only need one run per game.

Luckily, he’s a decent hitter too, so he should be able to help himself at the plate. Like a typical Little League superstar game, Harvey could pitch a complete game shutout and hit a home run to win the game.

That might be his only chance to consistently pick up wins.

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Who’s Ready For Some More Matt Harvey! Tue, 31 Jul 2012 16:27:47 +0000

I really loved this post by Bob Klapisch of The Record this morning on Mets rookie pitching phenom Matt Harvey.

Harvey isn’t just some overhyped prospect being pimped by desperate ownership. To the contrary: Rival executives believe the 23-year-old right-hander is the most gifted rookie pitcher the Mets have produced since Doc Gooden.

Granted, that’s a crazy endorsement for a kid who’s made exactly one major league start. But Harvey’s debut against the Diamondbacks last week was that breathtaking — 11 strikeouts in 5¤ innings, featuring a fastball that ranged between 95-98 mph.

Only Stephen Strasburg, David Price and Jeff Samardzija have better average velocity than what Harvey unleashed against Arizona. And his success wasn’t just married to pure heat. Harvey practically destroyed hitters with an 88-90 mph slider that one talent evaluator called, “unhittable” because of its blistering spin rate.

“You could tell [Arizona’s hitters] weren’t able to pick up the seams,” said the scout. Very few pitchers can disguise their off-speed weapons so effectively. And the ones that do, like Roy Halladay, needed years to master the trick.

You know, it’s one thing when the team and us fans rave about our prospects, but when rival executives and scouts are buzzing too, you know you have something special.

Harvey will take the mound tonight against struggling Giants ace Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, is 4-11 with a 5.88 ERA this season.

Harvey of course is coming off his eleven strikeout gem in which he tossed 51/3 shutout innings. Harvey allowed just three hits and walked three in a spectacular major league debut. Tune in tonight for his encore.

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Leading Off For The Yankees, Jose Reyes Mon, 23 May 2011 07:00:44 +0000 Question: What do Doc Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, David Cone, Jesse Orosco, Bobby Ojeda and Ron Swoboda all have in common? Answer: They all played for the Yankees.

After these individuals won a special place in our hearts forever, they all wound up playing for that other team, wearing those stupid pin stripes. Doc pitched a no-hitter in 96, a decade after he won a World Series ring with us. In 1999, David Cone pitched only the 14th Perfecto in history–and yes, while pitching for the Yankees.

Through our five decades, the role of our arch rival has changed. Over the last several years, it’s been the Phillies. We spent the 1990’s hating the Braves and Chipper Jones. In the 80’s it was the Cardinals. In the 70’s, it was the Pirates.

The longest standing rivalry, however, is the one we have with the Yankees. It’s not just due to the somewhat recent advent of inter-league play or the endless competition for the back page of the newspaper. It goes back to 1961, when the New York Mets were only a concept. And the Yankees sought legal action to prevent NY baseball retuning to the NL.

All in all, there’ve been 111 players who’ve played for both teams. And yes, it sometimes hurts. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who nearly threw up the first time I saw Darryl in that stupid Yankee uniform.

The Yankees have always been adept at replacing one legend with another. Bill Dickey retired in 1946 and was replaced behind the plate by Yogi Berra. One year after Babe Ruth was gone, his cleats were filled by the great Joe DiMaggio. And as DiMaggio’s career wound down, he gave way to some kid named Mantle. Even recently, as the Yankees saw an aging Reggie Jackson produce less, they brought in another future Hall of Famer in Dave Winfield to lessen the blow of losing Reggie.

The Yankees, once again, are facing the end of another legend. In just over one month, Derek Jeter will be 37. That’s tough for any ballplayer, but especially for the every day rigors of playing shortstop. It’s safe to say that Jeter’s best days are behind him. Yes, he’ll flash some brilliance now and then and he does show signs of life. But #2 has quickly become a very old 36.

Enter the Mets. We’re a team that is struggling, a team that is on the brink of rebuilding. A team that, somehow, has no money. We all know that Reyes and Beltran are on borrowed time, as well as possibly David Wright. Or even Santana, if he was healthy.

The prospect of Jose ultimately playing SS in The Bronx is downright disgusting. No, the Mets wont trade him directly to the Yankees. But if, in fact, Reyes is sent packing at the deadline and then can not come to terms with his new team, he would enter the Free Agent market. And you know the Yankees would be waiting with open arms…and an open check book.

Assuming Jeter would agree to move to another position (and knowing his team loyalty, he most likely would), replacing a Yankee legend such as he with a Jose Reyes would again lessen the blow to Yankee fans. Unlike Chuck Knoblauch, Reyes is fully capable of handling the NY media.

And, in all honesty, wouldn’t the Yankees brass just love shoving that in our face? As of now, Jose is leading the team in BA, hits, doubles and triples. He is the Mets all-time leader in Runs, triples, SB’s, 4th in hits and 5th in doubles.

We are 37-54 against them in inter-league play. In the last 15 years, we have won one wildcard, one division and one pennant. Over that same time frame, the Yankees have won 3 wildcards, 11 divisions, 7 pennants and 5 World Championships. Hell, they even like their new stadium while we complain and blame Citi Field for our woes.

The Yankees have taken this city. And relegated us to second class citizens. They seemingly dominate the media, dominate October. While they battle the Red Sox and Rays, we struggle with the Nats to stay out of last.

Could the Yankees manage without Reyes? Absolutely. But knowing them, wouldn’t they secretly just like to throw that in our face, just twisting the knife into our gut a little deeper?

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Mets Should Retire # 17 In 2011 Tue, 14 Dec 2010 12:00:12 +0000 No I’m not talking about retiring number 17 for Fernando Tatis and the few weeks he produced for the Mets.  Before Tatis there was another player for the Mets who wore 17. From June 15, 1983 to October 1, 1989 he wore 17 proudly for the New York Mets. This player won 5 Gold Gloves while he played 1st base.  This player was a team captain.  This player was a big reason why the Mets won it all in 1986.  This player was inducted into the Mets Hall Of Fame in 1997. Who is this player? He’s Keith Hernandez.

Next year is going to be a tough year for the New York Mets.  There might not be a lot of fun to be had at Citi Field in 2011.  In October when the season is over it would be nice to look at some fun times that the 2011 season produced.  One of the few fun experiences for me at least in 2010 was the Mets Hall Of Fame Induction.  Seeing Darryl Strawberry, Dwight “Doc” Gooden, Davey Johnson and Frank Cashen is something that I’m glad I got to see at Citi Field in 2010.  It also gave me something to look forward to as the season was getting away from the Mets in 2010.

The Mets have only retired 3 numbers in their history.  37 for Casey Stengel, 14 for Gil Hodges and 41 for the Franchise Tom Seaver.  Of course the Mets like the rest of Major League Baseball have retired 42 for Jackie Robinson.  Only one of the numbers retired is from a player.  I believe Keith Hernandez deserves to be the next player to join that elite club.

Keith played before I can really remember watching baseball.  I know to some younger than I am they know him from his Seinfeld episodes as well as being part of the best broadcasting team on TV.  Keith was one of the best first baseman to ever play this game.  I personally think he should be in Cooperstown.  He helped Daryl and Doc when they came up.  There is no way the Mets would have won a World Series without Keith.  Today he informs and entertains us in the broadcast booth.  He’s a New York Met for life.

When I would see Fernando Tatis grounding into double plays wearing number 17 I wanted to pull my hair out.  Keith has earned the right to have his number retired. It would be fun to look forward to and I’m sure the ceremony would be fun to experience in 2011.  The Mets did promise that when they moved to their new park more numbers would be retired.  I think it’s time to retire Keith’s 17 once and for all.

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Former Met, NL MVP Mitchell Facing Possible Jail Time Fri, 17 Sep 2010 06:50:23 +0000 Ex-Met and Game 6 hero Kevin Mitchell is in trouble with the law once again. And this time he may be spending up to 4 years in jail.

On Thursday, a judge in Chula Vista, CA ordered the 48 year old Mitchell to stand trial from an incident at the Bonita Golf Course. In July, Mitchell allegedly punched another golfer in the head repeatedly, nearly causing the man to suffer a concussion. The individual, whose name has not been released, was confronted by Mitchell for supposedly making ‘disparaging remarks’ about him.

The former NL MVP is no stranger to the legal system. Growing up in San Diego the one time gang member had been shot 3 times in his youth. In 1991, he was arrested for rape but the charges were dropped. In 99, he was arrested for assault after beating up his father. While managing the Sonoma County Crushers in 01, Mitchell was involved in a bench clearing brawl in which he punched the owner of the opposing team in the head. As a result he was suspended 9 games. The following year he was suspended 7 games after beating up his own 3rd base coach. He currently owes the state of California almost $5.2 million in unpaid taxes. Former teammate Doc Gooden claimed that during the 1986 season an ‘enraged’ Mitchell physically held him hostage and forced him to watch as he decapitated his girlfriend’s cat. Mitchell adamantly denied these accusations.

Mitchell only appeared in 115 games for the Mets, mainly as a utility player. Gary Carter nicknamed him ‘World’ cause he could play everywhere. In 328 AB’s he hit 275 with 12 HR’s and knocked in 44 RBI’s. But he is best remembered for his role in Game 6.

As the Mets trailed 5-3 going to the bottom of the 10th Mitchell returned to the clubhouse and began changing out of his uniform. When he was advised that Davey Johnson wanted him to pinch-hit in case Carter was able to get something going with 2 outs, he was already in his street clothes and on the phone making plane reservations to go home for the winter. Urban legend has it that he did not dress completely for his At-Bat, not having time to put on his cup. It was Mitchell who ultimately scored the tying run on Bob Stanley’s wild pitch.

He caused a huge dilemma for GM Frank Cashen. There was no doubt that Mitchell had the talent to be a great player. But with that talent came the fact that he was known to be hot-headed, volatile and short-tempered. Two months after getting that big hit, Mitchell was traded to San Diego along with Stan Jefferson and Shawn Abner for Kevin McReynolds, Gene Walter and Adam Ging.

Halfway through the 87 season Mitchell was traded to the Giants. In 1989, Mitchell helped lead San Francisco to the Pennant. He hit 291 with 47 HR’s and 125 RBI’s and became the first Giant to win the MVP since Willie McCovey 2 decades earlier.

However, 89 was the peak of his career. He was a 2-time All-Star but his indifferent attitude on the field combined with off-field distractions and numerous problems in his personal life caused friction with teammates and team owners. He frequently arrived in Spring Training 30-35 pounds overweight. In 1995, he played in Japan, becoming the highest paid ballplayer in that nation’s history. But he quickly wore out his welcome there as well. When he needed to have knee surgery, he refused to let the Japanese doctors operate and chose to fly back to the US, a move that was seen as a huge slap in the face to the proud Japanese people.

Mitchell left the game in 1998, a career 284 hitter with 234 HR’s, 760 RBI’s and 630 Runs. In his brief but memorable 13 year career, he played for 8 different teams.

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Mets All Under-Appreciated Team – Part One Tue, 24 Mar 2009 20:52:03 +0000
While perusing the comments of a recent article here on Mets Merized Online, an old but familiar name popped out at me…Dave Magadan.

Most of us Mets fans vaguely remember him. “Mags” played with the Amazins’ from 1986 until 1993. He was never a great player, but was decent enough to finish 22nd in the MVP voting in 1990, hitting .328 with 6 homers, 72 RBI’s and playing a solid first base. Anyway, his name got me thinking. Everyone remembers the big hitters like Straw and flamethrowers like Doc Gooden, but where’s the love for the scrappy guys who were for a lack of a better term, “a flash in the pan”?

I decided it would be fun to put together a list of former Mets that I would call “The All Under-Appreciated Team”. For space’s sake I’ll name the first three, just to get things started. Feel free to help fill in the rest of the lineup.

LF – Kevin McReynolds: The original “Big Mac” hit 122 dingers for the Mets in 5 ½ seasons in Queens, while stealing a then record 21 consecutive bases in 1988. He also played a pretty decent leftfield before being shipped out in the infamous “Saberhagen” deal. He retired after the 1994 strike season. 

C – Charlie O’Brien: Not really known for his bat, but after coming over from the Brewers in 1990, he provided solid defense while sharing duty with the enigmatic Mackey Sasser. (As much as Sasser drove me nuts with his double pump throws back to the mound he was always a favorite of mine too.)

SP – Sid Fernandez: “El Sid” won a respectable 98 games for the Mets over 10 seasons. His best season was 1986 when he went 16-6 with a 3.52 ERA and finished tied for 7th with Doc Gooden for the N.L. Cy Young Award.

Who should fill out the rest of the Mets All Under-Appreciated Team?

1B –
2B -
SS –
3B –
CA – Charlie O’Brien
LF – Kevin McReynolds
CF - 
RF –
UT –
SP - Sid Fernandez
SP –
RP –  

Give us your choices and a short reason why, and we will add your responses and fill out the rest of our roster. 

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My Day At Shea Mon, 02 Feb 2009 10:49:36 +0000 I love Mets Merized Online. I especially enjoy the many different types of writers the site employs. From beat writers to number crunchers, we got them all. I find myself more prone to writing about personal experience and getting to the root of the love of what I consider the greatest game on earth.

For me, baseball, and especially the Mets are a matter of the heart. Manny Ramirez seems to be the hot topic here lately, and it seems that as the winter drags along, Manny has managed to dredge up quite a bit of support from Mets fans. I’ve said it before, give him the same offer the Dodgers have on the table, throw in a tinfoil lined hat that will help him “Keep his thoughts in”, and he might take the deal. 

Recently, our colleague Rob wrote a wonderful piece about my favorite player of all time, Darryl Strawberry. I once had the opportunity to meet him and I was taken back by the kind of guy he was. It may be because he had just come back to baseball with the Giants, but I found him to be engaging and polite, nothing like his history would have suggested. It was July 23, 1994, there was impending labor strife on the horizon and Matt Williams of the Giants and Tony Gwynn of the Padres were both chasing single season records in homeruns and average. I was given an opportunity to tour Shea stadium and go on the field for batting practice to meet some of the players.

I was originally slated to meet Doc Gooden, but he got suspended, then Kevin McReynolds then he got hurt, but I met my share of legends that day. Buddy Harrelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy were three of the kindest and humble people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Barry and Bobby Bonds were also very gracious too, even letting us interrupt their discussion at the batting cage to give us an autograph. Bobby Bonilla, still looked at as “The Man” at the time, was great. Jeromy Burnitz and Ryan Thompson were very cool too.

Fernando Vina was in a bit of a mood due to people hollering some unkind things from the stands, but he gave us an autograph anyway.. I still have the picture of him with a sour puss face on handing the ball back. None of them held a candle to meeting “The Straw That Stirred the Mets Drink” though. Even seeing Dallas Green standing at second base with a look that gave the impression he had better things to do couldn’t ruin this day. Darryl Strawberry knew my name and I was on Cloud 9.

Although the game itself  didn’t turn out like I wanted it to, the Giants ended up beating the Mets 4-2 after resuming the game after a MLB record 3 ½ hour rain delay, it was a day that I’ll never forget. Sadly, the season ended with a strike less than a month later and we were left holding our foam fingers asking ,”Why?”

I couldn’t believe there was no World Series that year. It was almost like the 1994 season never happened. Here’s to hoping that never happens again. Chances are, there will be no more Mark McGwire/ Sammy Sosa to bring baseball back again. Although, that’s a whole other “can of worms” for another day.

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