So I was kicking back in the baseball room on Sunday, enjoying a rare opportunity to catch our Mets on television.
An early afternoon thunderstorm washed out any chance of yard work, creating an opportunity for a truly guilt-free viewing of what was probably the best Mets sweep of the Braves since the 1969 playoffs.
Then came the commercial of the guy in the sports bar getting his shipment of Albert Pujols stuff to tack on the wall, with the other assorted pieces of memorabilia griping about who was better or had it tougher, with the bobble heads chiming in with an amen at the end.
It was kind of cute the first time; less so the second. But the freaking TBS seemed to run that ad every time there was a break in the action, and by the 20th time or so I hated it more than those horrid alternate caps the Braves wear with their lame red jerseys.
The ads, of course, are for MLB’s new Hometown Heroes promotion. We’re instructed to go to MLB.com and vote for our team’s most outstanding player of all time.
Clearly, this is just another one of those sponsor-driven disaster-in-waiting that MLB tends to get itself involved in. Remember all the controversy when the All-Century Team was named and Pete Rose was elected? Whatever good feelings existed were squashed when Jim Gray tried to beat a confession out of Pete.
By the way, Pete’s listed on this ballot, too.
Since I tend to do what I’m told, I went online and dialed up the ballot. After snickering at the five candidates Devil Rays fans had to choose from, I switched over to the National League side to see which Mets were named.
My vote was a foregone conclusion, since I tend to write in Tom Seaver’s name when I vote in City Commission elections, much less on a ballot where he’s actually named.
But I wanted to see who all was there for the fans that don’t have basement shrines. And those choices are: Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, Tug McGraw and John Franco.
Huh? Who’s picking this list, Chipper Jones?
I figure this should be a list of the top five players ever to play for the Mets. And if that’s the case, this falls way short.
Let’s go down the list.
1) Tom Seaver: An obvious choice, so qualms here.
2) Mike Piazza: Again, no argument about the greatest-hitting catcher ever.
3) Darryl Strawberry: Our troubled friend is certainly our best-ever slugger, at least until Carlos Beltran and David Wright gets a couple more years in New York under their belts.
4) Tug McGraw: Hmmm. This is where things get questionable. I like Tug. My cat’s name is Tug. Tug was a wonderful personality and his “You Gotta Believe” cry resonates through Shea to this day. But he is not one of our top five players of all time. And I mean no disrespect. He might be in the top 15, and deserves a spot in the Mets Hall of Fame. But if I’m limited to five, he falls short.
5) John Franco: No, no, no! Franco represents the ugly 1990s, the decade of shame and angst. He had already lost the closer’s job when the team went to the Series in 2000. And unlike Piazza, his departure was not pretty. Franco also deserves a spot in the Mets Hall of Fame, and I’ve advocated retiring No. 31 as a combined tribute with Piazza. But there’s no way he gets a spot on this list.
OK, you ask. If I strike the two closers, who do I add?
Here are the candidates:
1) Keith Hernandez: The arrival of Mex in 1983 was one of the turning points in the history of the franchise. I’d argue that he was more import to those mid-1980s teams than Strawberry
2) Gary Carter: Kid sealed the deal, pushing the team over to top – the upbeat ying to Mex’s dour yang.
3) Jerry Koosman: Kooz was a heck of a pitcher who would have been the ace for any team without a pitcher named Seaver on the roster.
4) Dwight Gooden: Can the 1986 team be over-represented here? The tragedy is that Doc’s demons kept him out of Cooperstown and kept him from being a no-brainer for the list. But you could say the same things about Straw, and he’s there.
5) Willie Mays: I know Say Hey is among the Giants’ top 5 and should win the balloting there. But I just like remembering that Mays was a Met, and join with my friend Greg Prince in calling for his No. 24 to be retired at Shea.
Decision time! I’m picking Hernandez and Koosman. That gives the nod toward the leader of the 1980s and pitcher who, like McGraw, was a key part of the 1969 champs and 1973 pennant-winners, but was the better pitcher.
Doc gets squeezed out by the baggage, and Carter, in a just world, gets tapped to be the Expos representative.
In other words.
What a shame about Cory Lidle. He had a nice little career going there. But now that he's been traded to the Yankees we know bad things will happen to him. Lidle, of course, started with the Mets in 1997, going 7-2 with a 3.53 ERA before being snapped by the Diamondbacks in the expansion draft.