My outer head needs a haircut and my inner child resists. It’s always been that way because when I was a kid, hair length was a big issue in the world at large and among ballplayers, especially the ones I admired. Tug McGraw and Jim Bouton wrote books about battles with the establishment, rightly scoffing at their retrograde rules regarding how many inches from one’s collar one’s hair could end, and I took the authors’ side. I still do. With my core values formed in the age of the Swingin’ A’s, McGovern for President and Hawkeye Pierce before his character became untenably preachy (a decade in Korea will do that to ya), I automatically went hackles-up when I heard about Willie’s conformity-sopping edict.
But, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Willie means well, I said. He didn’t wade through eleven futile job interviews and all kinds of implicit discrimination to fulfill a lifelong dream just so he could someday order Matt Ginter to clean that mess up and give me fifty. No, I reasoned, Willie grew up a Mets fan and Willie’s emulating the manager he remembers from his youth, Gil Hodges. Gil Hodges would enforce that kind of discipline, not because he believed in mindless regulations and power trips, but because Gil Hodges was Gil Hodges, and he didn’t need any other reasons. I feel I owe Gil Hodges a fine just for talking about him now.
So, at last, when I’ve rationalized Randolph, you go and remind me that the last manager our new manager ever played for was Jeff Torborg, and we may very well have Borg in our midst. The spirit of the mentally besotted 1992 Mets, the worst team karma could buy, is lurking in the least likely vessel it could find. I’m not going to sleep well tonight.
Turns out Roberto Hernandez is a Willie Randolph type in that he apparently grew up a Mets fan in Manhattan. He may be the last active ballplayer to invoke Dave Kingman and Ralph Kiner in a childhood memory, or at least the last I’ve heard about (Leiter and Franco probably don’t recollect fondly like that for public consumption anymore). Bobby Bonilla did that, too, but I won’t hold that against the aged reliever.
Good riddance to the orange BP duds. They had Art Howe written all over them, and not because they were bright.
You’da loved this, though. On “Mets Hot Stove Report” this weekend, they covered (“covered” in the Talon News sense of the word) Mets Fantasy Camp. You know how in the course of the season they’re always promoting the chance to be instructed by and play against your Met heroes? Well, at the end of the show, they had each revered Met alumnus face the camera and tell us a little bit about himself.
The usual suspects were there: Swoboda, Grote (aren’t they getting a bit long in the tooth for this stuff?), HoJo. Then, amid the paragons of ’69 and ’86 and John Stearns types, there was Butch Huskey.
Butch Huskey! Butch Huskey is no longer in baseball, it turns out. Butch Huskey, who’s 33. Butch Huskey, who was the toast of spring training only five minutes (or nine years) ago. Butch Huskey, who hit 24 home runs as recently as 1997, which isn’t as recent as it used to be, but still. Butch Huskey, who’s now a farmer in Lawton, Oklahoma and a college coach and misses baseball, he says. Sniff. We miss you too, Butch. One of these days, you’re gonna reach your potential.
Also showing accountants and lawyers how to better lay down a bunt were the likes of Tim Bogar (that figured), Lenny Randle (there’s a lennyrandle.com, but I refuse to look) and Rodney McCray, who calls himself Crash McCray, way more famous for his minor-league blooper than anything he did in the bigs. Rodney McCray had one big moment as a Met. One at-bat, one game-winning, bottom-of-the-ninth single against the Dodgers. The manager only used him because he had nobody left, and within three days, McCray, having proved himself unimaginably valuable, was sent down, and a month later was let go, never to play in the Majors again.
The manager who saw what Crash could do and then got rid of him as fast as he did it? Jeff Torborg.