To avoid competing lists, I'll yield the field to you, keeping my 100
greatest Mets in my back pocket for a rainy day, which is all our team
seems to get these days. Funny how I never thought much of Steve
Trachsel (beyond “Why isn't that man throwing the baseball yet?”) until
back troubles turned him into Matt Ginter. Ulp!
Anyway, while the Greatest 100 unfold, I'm going to play the easy role
of G(r)eek Chorus, making appreciative comments about (and taking occasional pot
shots at) the players on your list.
My pot shots will not begin with Marvelous Marv,
however: Parking him at #100 is genius. In our old Bethesda, Md., group
house, the line “We was gonna give you a piece of cake, but we wuz
afraid you would drop it” got adopted as an all-purpose putdown, with
various nouns subbed for “piece of cake.” That's fame of a sort, ain't
it? Among the innumerable legends you didn't mention, my favorite is
how Marv had to pay taxes on his cabin cruiser because he won it for
hitting a sign, which was considered a test of skill, while Richie
Ashburn's cabin cruiser was tax-free because he got it for being named
the team MVP, which wasn't a test of skill because it was voted on by
others. Or something. Ashburn tied his boat up in a river and it sank.
Marv gets extra points because he'd been a Yankee. It was nice of the
Fates to provide us with an almost-mystically clear example of the
difference between the two teams so early: Marv's ineptitude was a
source of embarrassment and disgust for Yankee fans but made him
beloved by Met fans. Baseball is an imperfect affair; if you can't
laugh at it, well…you're a Yankee fan.
I can't abide the idea that Lenny Harris
is on any list of ours. Nothing against Lenny, who by all
accounts is a prince among men, but he embodies the Neanderthal
conservatism of baseball front offices: In any sane world, such a
profoundly limited player would have lost his job to rookies seasons
ago. But Lenny keeps rolling on and on — he must be in camp somewhere
— adding to his pointless pinch-hitting record. And considering he's a
stone-handed, slow singles hitter, he's not even one-dimensional —
he's half-dimensional. Lest we think Steve Phillips never did anything
for us, the sturm und drang over his secretarial sojourns did keep Lenny from cluttering up a roster spot. Until we reacquired him. Grrr.
Similarly, I must withhold my endorsement of Duke Snider.
While I understand and appreciate the nod to our blue and orange
history, Joan Payson's insistence on stockpiling decrepit Giants and
Dodgers hamstrung this franchise into the 1970s, with Willie Mays the
ultimate vanity pick. But at least Willie played in a World Series and
had some memorable plays. Duke did nothing but be old and sulky, and he
gets docked additional points for going out as a Giant — Jackie
Robinson opted to put his feet up on a desk at Chock Full o' Nuts
rather than do that. Gil Hodges would fall into this category too, were
it not for leading us to The Promised Land as a skipper.
I'll always associate Carl Everett's
Met career with my beloved Motorola SportsTrax, a lovely gift from my
in-laws that kept me connected during innumerable unavoidable weekend
and night events during which a radio would have been frowned upon. I
was still breaking in the SportsTrax when I was forced to spend the
bulk of a nice spring Saturday at a management retreat at a downtown
hotel. During a break I was showing off the device and turned the sound
on in hopes of getting a beep or two that I might be able to translate.
The second I did this the thing went apeshit, whistling and beeping so
euphorically that we all backed away from it as if it were a hand grenade.
“I think that's the grand-slam noise!” I said happily after looking at the score. It was. And it was Carl Everett.
The other SportsTrax Everett Event was the game against the Expos
you've mentioned. I was attending a ludicrously swanky wedding in
Newport, R.I., that I knew would turn into a grisly boozefest, so I
left the SportsTrax in the motel room along with everything else I
didn't want to lose. (What the hell, it was 6-0.) When I returned at 5
a.m., half-blind with drink, covered with grass stains and missing
significant tux components (it was a good wedding), I looked at the
final score in disbelief and concluded the SportsTrax was
malfunctioning. Nope. Carl Everett had malfunctioned the Expos.
I'd type more about Clobberin' Carl, but an Allosaurus
just wandered into the apartment looking for carrion, so I think I
better hide in a closet or something. Carl may not believe in them, but
I'm taking no chances.