A Lesson In Mets History

I’m a fan of history. Whether it be baseball or Mets history or the history of our nation, I love how history provides us with a template for the future.

We tend to have short attention spans in this new media digital age. We tweet, surf the web and instant message while texting all at once. We Hulu a show that we could’ve easily watched a few nights before but our DVR was already pushing it’s limits in capacity- full of television fodder most likely never to be viewed- exiled into digital purgatory. That’s who we are now. We are the collective products of our time.

I also love how many people seem to disregard history and it’s underlying teachings. Let me take you back to 1998. An All-Star and future Hall of Fame catcher, Mike Piazza of the Los Angeles Dodgers,was in the final year of his contract.

The Dodgers, in a move that will forever rank amongst the most insane in professional sports history, traded their prized backstop to the Florida Marlins for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios.

To complete this cacophony of stupidity, the Marlins who at the time were in a “rebuilding” mode, within days traded Mike Piazza to the New York Mets for three cans of corn. Actually it turned out to be Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnall and Geoff Goetz.

Steve Phillips for all of his personal shortcomings – perhaps a bad choice of words on my part – should forever in Mets history be congratulated, thanked and dare I say honored for making such a bold move to acquire a player as Mike Piazza.

Least we not forget, if Steve Phillips had not traded for Piazza, the Mets would have had none other than Todd Hundley behind the dish. Yes you remember the guy that set the all time single season record for homeruns by a catcher with 41 in 1996, only to have that record eclipsed in 2003 when Javy Lopez hit 42.

Hundley’s career was never the same after elbow reconstructive surgery in 1998.

When he returned the Mets briefly experimented with Hundley in left field. Never returning to his previous star form, Hundley was eventually traded to ironically, the Dodgers and yet again ironically for Charles Johnson and Roger Cedeno. There’s that history thing always sneaking up on ya.

Recently I wrote a piece why Omar Minaya should make a real and concerted effort to land Cliff Lee of the Mariners. In recent posts surfacing around the web, it’s been noted that the New York Yankee’s have shown interest in acquiring Lee, and some have said almost with an odd certainty that a deal for Lee is set in stone. Hasn’t history taught us anything?

Steve Phillips didn’t HAVE to put his hat in the Mike Piazza sweepstakes. He could have rested on his laurels and remained satisfied with even a recovering Todd Hundley. He could have swung a deal for catcher, perhaps even Charles Johnson himself at the time using different bait. He didn’t. He thought BIG.

So many of us out here would be satisfied if the Mets were to acquire an innings eater type of pitcher. A Kevin Millwood, Jake Westbrook has been mentioned. Good guys but not game changers.

This is New York if you’re coming to play you bring your “A” game and you go BIG. The Yankee’s aren’t wringing their hands on the complexities of whether or not they SHOULD go after Lee. They instinctively know they should because the opportunity avails itself.

To those of you who argue that we can’t trade the farm my answer to you is historical, did Steve Phillips trade the farm for Piazza? No. Creativity in Major League Baseball trades is actually more common place than you think, it’s the moxie to pull them off that is what’s in question, especially for the Mets.

So before you put finger to keyboard just ask yourself this question, if you were Omar Minaya and you had an opportunity to land a Cy Young winner, would you go the easy and safe route of a lesser talent or would you go big and show not just the rest of Baseball but your fans, that winning it all is you’re ONLY goal?

In the words of the great Jake Taylor:

“I guess there’s only one thing left to do…win the whole @#$&^*! thing!”

About Joe Spector 86 Articles
I'm just your regular Joe. Staff writer @ Metsmerizedonline.com. Happily married and a father to a baby girl. I attended my first Met game at the ripe old age of 3 where my father scored a foul ball and had it signed by Lee Mazzilli, Joe Torre and Joe Pignataro. It was my Holy Grail - 'till I buried it in the backyard. I have my own website where you can read my drivel at your leisure @ www.thespectorsector.net