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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Hey Buddy, Here Comes Jose

The way things have always been aren’t far from changing. It will be strange, but in the long run, we will benefit.

I’m talking about the at-any-given-moment consensus all-time Mets team. You know, best Met at every position over the history of the franchise. We’ve never done one up here because it’s like ranking an all-Solar System lineup of planets. Mercury bats first, Venus bunts him over, Earth gets the ribby opportunities and you can’t pitch around Mars because Jupiter is very dangerous in the fifth hole. Every now and then somebody screws around and the nine-hitter is demoted to another galaxy, but you more or less know how it’s going to turn out.

I’ve seen Mets experts, Mets fans, Mets writers, Mets polls and Mets propaganda proffer all-time Mets teams intermittently for more than a quarter of a century. I’m not here to argue with anything that’s been said before; for the most part, they all conform to a certain conventional wisdom, one for which I bear no great iconoclasm. What I’d like to do is consider which elements of the all-time Mets team are due for revision and how soon we can anticipate changings of the respective guards.

CATCHER

Incumbent All-Timer: Mike Piazza

Since: No later than 2000

Prior: Your traditionalists would argue for Jerry Grote’s defense and longevity from 1969 until Piazza. Your modernists might nod toward Gary Carter given the offensive impact he brought to bear in 1985 and ’86. Todd Hundley made an impressive run for a season or two, but pre-Piazza, consensus formed around Grote or Carter.

After: Piazza’s only gone one year.

Current Catcher: Paul Lo Duca

His Prospects: This is a position that has enjoyed some serious starpower, so even though Lo Duca put in a heckuva season in 2006, it’s unlikely he’ll break into the top three given his advanced age.

Anybody’s Prospects: Eight seasons, fortune-changer, great numbers, legend…it will take a homegrown Mike Piazza to top the one for whom we traded. Mike has a lock on this spot for at least a decade, likely longer.

FIRST BASE

Incumbent All-Timer: Keith Hernandez

Since: No later than 1986

Prior: Ed Kranepool was the default candidate by the mid-’60s. As more productive first basemen — Clendenon, Milner, Montañez — came along, Eddie (albeit from a pinch-hitting perch) had them beat on longevity. He always will. It took Hernandez’s all-around excellence and obvious impact on the state of things to dislodge Krane.

After: John Olerud squeezed himself between Mex and Kranepool with three fabulous seasons. Perhaps a few more would have made him a serious contender for the top spot.

Current First Baseman: Carlos Delgado

His Prospects: Not unlike Lo Duca, his first year as a Met could not have gone much better. He ingrained himself into club lore by making a difference on a team that jumped from also-ran to division champ. But also like Lo Duca, Delgado joined the Mets late in his career. Two more slam-bang offensive seasons might get him mentioned in the same breath with Olerud and Kranepool as best of the rest, but he’s no threat to Keith.

Anybody’s Prospects: Though they were far from the same player, the Met trajectories of Piazza and Hernandez were fairly similar. Hernandez is every bit the legend for his tenure that Piazza was for his, so it is hard to imagine first base gets a new leading man. Caveat, though: Keith’s brilliance came without dominating power stats, traditionally the province of corner infielders. Get a Delgado-type in his prime and it could become competitive. But then again, there’s only one Keith Hernandez.

SECOND BASE

Incumbent All-Timer: Edgardo Alfonzo

Since: No later than 2000

Prior: For Fonzie, there’s a bit of lifetime achievement award to this designation as he shifted between third and second for six seasons as a starter. He gained notice at third but really made jaws drop at second. His two best years were in the middle of the diamond. They were so good it’s hard to remember who came before, but there is a lineage: Ron Hunt from ’63 to as late as ’75 when Felix Millan took over for good (depending on how highly you valued Ken Boswell’s relative longevity in between). Millan played every day, so he could be your all-timer until the late ’90s unless you didn’t mind Wally Backman’s platoon status. Backman was such a force on those mid-’80s Mets that he made a strong case for himself. Jeff Kent’s numbers in ’93 and ’94 were promising but they dipped dramatically in ’95 and he was at third then gone by ’96, thus only partially breaching the conversation. Fonzie’s ’99 and ’00 made the whole lot of his predecessors rather moot.

After: Roberto Alomar was the exact opposite of Lo Duca and Delgado and his breakdown left a sizable hole at second that nobody since Alfonzo has filled.

Current Second Baseman: Jose Valentin

His Prospects: In relatively limited duty, Valentin had one of the better power years by any Met second baseman in 2006 and he acquitted himself fine defensively. But at this late stage of his career (a hauntingly familiar refrain when discussing the current Mets thus far), it’s hard to imagine he’ll a) duplicate 2006 in 2007 and b) triplicate it in 2008 which is what it would take to catapult him into the upper echelon of all-time Mets second basemen.

Anybody’s Prospects: If you judge the position by defense (and defense usually lags in all-time team talk, otherwise Doug Flynn would be a major topic of conversation here), Anderson Hernandez could conceivably make a run if he starts to hit and sticks around. In the more generic sense, it would take about five very good seasons to unseat Alfonzo. It doesn’t sound impossible, but in the 45-year history of the Mets, how many players have put up five very good seasons at any position?

SHORTSTOP

Incumbent All-Timer: Bud Harrelson

Since: No later than 1969

Prior: Roy McMillan got high marks for his uncommon professionalism as the Mets were wearing out their training wheels, but the shortstop story on this team really begins with Buddy Harrelson.

After: For a quarter-century it ended with Harrelson, too. There were pretenders, those who could flash speed (Taveras), show steadiness (Santana), offer promise (Elster), spread leather (Schofield) and hit surprisingly well (Vizcaino), but none was a keeper in the long-term. Though time has not burnished his credentials, Rey Ordoñez’s glove was a magical entity and, given his role on a winning team, made him the de facto runnerup at short through the end of his stormy stay. If he had hit a little and shut up a little more, he might have taken a serious run at Harrelson, but Buddy’s longevity and presence were hard to beat.

Current Shortstop: Jose Reyes

His Prospects: Jose Reyes, as Bob Murphy might have said, is why they put erasers on pencils. It takes all the restraint one can muster to not change for the first time since the late 1960s the identity of the all-time Mets shortstop. He followed an encouraging 2005 with a stellar 2006. Not stellar for a Met, but stellar as in one of the brightest stars in the game at any position. His four seasons — two partial, two complete — are not quite enough to bump Buddy’s thirteen, but Buddy would be the first to tell you Jose’s ’06 was the offensive equal of any three he put up in his prime.

Anybody’s Prospects: Even if he never has another season quite on the level of 2006, it will take no more than three years in the general vicinity of what he did last season to cement Jose Reyes’ spot as the all-time Mets shortstop. Barring injury, look for the change to be indisputable by 2009, 2010 at the latest.

THIRD BASE

Incumbent All-Timer: Howard Johnson

Since: No later than 1991

Prior: The steaming baked potato of all Mets positions, it would be reasonable to term it vacant on an all-time team for the first decade of Met existence. By the end of the ’70s, Wayne Garrett had earned it through dutiful service. The first impressive all-around Met third baseman was Hubie Brooks, 1980-1984. It took three astounding offensive seasons from HoJo to nail down his claim to the hot corner…just in time for him to be shifted to the outfield.

After: Johnson’s supremacy was seriously challenged in the late ’90s, first by Alfonzo then Robin Ventura. Neither lasted long enough at the position to knock off HoJo, though Ventura’s 1999 was as spectacular as anything as Johnson accomplished in ’87, ’89 or ’91.

Current Third Baseman: David Wright

His Prospects: HoJo’s elevation to the big-league coaching staff in 2007 will give him a front-row seat from which to watch his place in Mets history pushed back a notch. David Wright’s brief career has been possibly the best out of the gate by any homegrown Met. Power, average, defense (the throwing yips notwithstanding)…it’s David’s world.

Anybody’s Prospects: For karma’s sake, let’s use the “barring injury” qualifier. Barring injury, David Wright should arrive on the all-time team by the time Shea Stadium gives way to Citi Field. It’s only in deference to HoJo’s longevity (not quite as imposing as Harrelson’s) that we don’t make the switch now. Like Reyes, Wright demonstrates every indication that he will own his spot in this lineup well into the future.

LEFT FIELD

Incumbent All-Timer: Cleon Jones

Since: 1968

Prior: Frank Thomas did hit 34 homers in 1962, but Cleon was the best player the Mets developed in their first two decades. His .340 average coming when it did sealed his spot in left for generations to come. His wonderful 1969 highlighted a 12-year run unmatched to date in left.

After: Truth is nobody’s come close to Cleon Jones over the long haul even if there have been seasons. Dave Kingman’s best power years were in left in ’75 and ’76 but he hit his later homers at first and didn’t do a whole lot else as a player. Steve Henderson looked like the real thing from ’77 to ’80 but never put up Cleon stats. George Foster’s Met career was a trainwreck despite a couple of good slugging seasons. Kevin McReynolds was more the rubbernecker during his stay. A good ’87 and a very, very good ’88 were followed only by deterioration from ’89 through ’91. One-year wonders Bernard Gilkey (’96), Rickey Henderson (’99) and Benny Agbayani (’00) didn’t last either. Cliff Floyd’s 2005 was classic, but the rest of his Met days were undercut by injury.

Current Leftfielder: Moises Alou.

His Prospects: If he gives us an ’07 like Lo Duca’s, Delgado’s or even Valentin’s ’06, he etches his name into our consciousness for the good. But at 40 on Opening Day, he won’t touch Cleon Jones.

Anybody’s Prospects: This was supposed to be Lastings Milledge’s job by now and Lastings Milledge was highly touted. Left doesn’t look like his bag, baby. It’s either too early or too late to figure out what we’ll get from him. As for somebody coming along and topping Jones, it’s conceivable. If McReynolds hadn’t declined or Floyd hadn’t gotten hurt (or Kingman hadn’t been traded), it could have been done by now. Outfielders, however, aren’t the Mets’ stock in trade, so until an unknown quantity puts up at least three straight power seasons worthy of a corner outfielder, there’s nobody remotely on Cleon’s heels.

CENTER FIELD

Incumbent All-Timer: Mookie Wilson

Since: No later than 1986

Prior: Center used to be the Met doppelgänger of third, except further from home. The Mets couldn’t find a dependable occupant, save for the first year with Richie Ashburn, until Tommie Agee sewed it up in ’68 (a miserable season) and excelled at it in ’69. Agee probably owned it, even in the face of a stiff challenge from Lee Mazzilli in the late ’70s, into the Mookie Wilson era. Mookie’s speed and dominance of the steals and triples categories (despite not being the most awesome of flycatchers or leadoff batters) earned him CF honors for twenty-year keeps. His role in the 1986 World Series didn’t hurt either.

After: Mookie withstood a real-time ambush by Lenny Dykstra between ’85 and ’89. By August ’86, a centerfield platoon was tweaked to a rotation of sorts, getting Mookie into the lineup in left when Dykstra manned center. But Lenny never took center away from Mookie. After they were both ingeniously dispatched, it was Juan Samuel time, first literally, then figuratively. A slew of comers and goers made the exploits of Mookie, Lenny, Tommie and Mazz stand taller than they actually measured.

Current Centerfielder: Carlos Beltran

His Prospects: If we are to believe 2005 was the aberration and 2006 the genuine article, Carlos Beltran is already the best centerfielder in Mets history. Not the same as being the all-time CF, however. Carlos needs two or three more Beltranesque years to own the position beyond debate.

Anybody’s Prospects: Isn’t that what he’s being paid for? Carlos Beltran reminded us in 2006 that he’s one of the best all-around players in the game, the kind of player we’ve almost never had, certainly not in center. Assuming there isn’t some horrible hangover from that called strike three (and those nagging injuries of his are kept to a minimum), we can look forward to a Citi Field lineup by 2010 that includes three all-time Mets: Reyes, Wright and Beltran.

RIGHT FIELD

Incumbent All-Timer: Darryl Strawberry

Since: No later than 1986

Prior Ron Swoboda’s Game Four catch in ’69 gave him the upper hand for a while, based mostly on the stuff of legend. Rusty Staub’s four seasons after his trade from Montreal earned him right field outright. There was no better stick when it came to driving in runs, clutch or otherwise, for the first two decades of Mets history. Then Darryl showed up in ’83. Growing pains notwithstanding, he was instantly the most extraordinary talent to rise from the Mets’ system. If he wasn’t exactly Joel Youngblood with the glove, he was an authentic superstar.

After: Get serious.

Current Right Fielder: Shawn Green.

His Prospects: A nice rebound full season would be plenty to welcome from Green. Should Milledge find himself with a few more at-bats than expected in right (where he looked decidedly more comfortable than he did in left), it could be intriguing. But Darryl’s safe for now.

Anybody’s Prospects: Even taking into account that Darryl’s eight Mets seasons did not launch him toward Cooperstown, nobody has touched what he compiled or accomplished. Sixteen seasons have not yielded any kind of challenge to the incumbent’s primacy. Right remains Strawberry’s field prohibitively to 2015 and probably then some.

STARTING RIGHTHANDED PITCHER

Incumbent All-Timer: Tom Seaver

Since: 1967

Prior: Does it matter?

After: One name. Dwight Gooden. If he couldn’t do it (and for a while it looked he would), nobody could.

Current Starting Righthanded Pitcher: Pedro Martinez

His Prospects: Well, it would help if he were healthy. For argument’s sake, let’s say Pedro makes it back midsummer and pitches at the level he did in 2005 and early 2006 for the length of his contract. It would mark his Met tenure as a significant one, but it would leave him way short of not only Seaver but Gooden. And that’s best-case. Still, if we’re mentioning him in the same breath as Tom and Doc, then it was Pedro well spent. Heck, it was anyway.

Anybody’s Prospects: It would be unfair to the Met pitching prospects of today to invoke Tom Seaver as their ceiling. In a world in which one shouldn’t forecast too far into the future, I’m willing to say nobody besides Tom Seaver will ever be the Mets’ all-time starting RHP.

STARTING LEFTHANDED PITCHER

Incumbent All-Timer: Jerry Koosman

Since: 1968

Prior: Al Jackson was a gutty lefthander who deserved a better fate. Wins were hard to come by on those early Mets teams yet Jackson had more than anybody in those first dark days. Kooz, however, blew all southpaws away with a 19-12 rookie season. He was ensconced from there.

After: Jon Matlack outdid Koosman for a few years in the early ’70s and Al Leiter was counted on as titular ace more than either of them, but no LHP hung in as long as Kooz did and no pitcher of either arm could be counted on quite as confidently in big game starts.

Current Starting Lefthanded Pitcher: Tom Glavine

His Prospects: Glavine, health and run support willing, will reach an exciting milestone in a Met uniform, and that will be lovely. But even a 300th win along with two very good seasons to finish up his career as a Met (with hopefully two more postseason trips and performances up to his October 2006 standard) would vault Glavine no higher than also-ran to Kooz. Jerry, after all, was here for twelve seasons, several of them historic.

Anybody’s Prospects: Like we said, Jerry was here a long time and with good reason. He is third lifetime in Met wins. He was a star who pitched behind an immortal. Despite the best efforts of Leiter, Matlack, Ojeda and Fernandez, his premier southpaw status hasn’t been approached. A Met lefty reaching Kooz territory may happen, but it will take some doing.

CLOSER

Incumbent All-Timer: John Franco

Since: No later than 2000

Prior: With apologies to Ron Taylor, Tug McGraw invented the modern fireman’s role on the Mets and he filled it indelibly. Jesse Orosco surpassed his saves total and was on the mound twice when it absolutely mattered in 1986. It was a matter of taste before 1990 as to who you wanted as your all-time closer. John Franco then arrived from Cincinnati and compiled saves in record numbers. It probably took the latter stages of his career to make him universally lovable like Tug and definitely required his postseason setup appearances to match his accomplishments to Jesse’s.

After: Armando Benitez is a two-word Rorschach Test to most Mets fans. Some see the most successful regular-season closer in Mets history. Others see mushroom clouds. The fact is he did unseat Franco and was at the heart of some of the most compelling baseball the franchise ever saw. The fact is he also lasted fewer than five seasons, well short of Franco’s fifteen.

Current Closer: Billy Wagner.

His Prospects: Yet another 2006 Met who alighted from elsewhere and inscribed his name into the family album with a memorable year in service to a postseason campaign. He certainly had his moments. Though he will have ample opportunity to add to his Met résumé, he too has started down the orange & blue path rather late in life.

Anybody’s Prospects: John Franco embedded himself into Met culture as few others have. His status with the front office (combined with his general record of success…not that it was unsullied or without detractors) shielded him from the several regime changes that shook Shea between Cashen and Minaya. Since longevity was intrinsic to the Franco oeuvre, and because one-team longevity among closers is almost anathema in team-building today, it will be difficult for anybody to match Franco. On the other hand, the next closer who drops to his knees and flings his glove skyward will be granted sainthood by millions of Mets fans and that might be enough.

44 comments to Hey Buddy, Here Comes Jose

  • Anonymous

    I think you're missing the boat at shortstop, where no one can discount the contributions of one Franklyn Taveras.
    I'll never forget my conversation with Chuck Tanner, in which I explained that we Met fans were still bitter that Frank had never done anything for us. Chuck responded, “He never did anything for me, either.”

  • Anonymous

    I note the absence of one position and wonder if it was intentional.
    If it was, I agree wholeheartedly. Although maybe the heart isn't the best thing to remember Gil Hodges by, if only in the cardiological sense.
    Nobody before, nobody yet since, and while I admire Willie, I knew Gil. Gil was an idol of mine. Will is no Gil.
    Motion to close the nominations and pan-retire the position from further consideration.
    (And while we wait for a second? Go over to my rant du jour and let me know if anyone's interested in A's weekend and, if so, why we can't seem to buy tickets for the Saturday game.)

  • Anonymous

    Ray,
    I second that nomination. Gil is da man.
    It seems all weekend Mets games are devoid of the little green “T”. Does anyone out there know why? Like Ray, I'm itchin' to go. I might even take a cab from LaGuardia in my Mets jacket and try to impersonate a player to get in. No, wait – that's been done already.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Agree with each picks except that Agee would get the nod over Wilson in center.
    Agee was the complete player – hit for average, power, a fantastic fielder, good throwing arm, stole bases and smart baserunner. While remembered for those two great three catches in game three of the world series, my fondest recollection is him single-handedly beating the Cubs for Jerry Koozman in that crucial game of September 8, 1969 (the black cat). Decked by Bill Hands leading off the first, he responded with a two-run homer in the third, caught Billy Williams off guard by taking advantage of a wet outfield and stretched an ordinary single into a double and then elluded the tag of Todd's father to score the winning run (Murph's great call: “Agee trying to score, they may get him, safe! Hundley's jumping up and down, up and down!”).
    While you did not select all-time Met manager, my vote goes for Gil Hodges with Willie Randolph having the potential to overtake him in years to come.

  • Anonymous

    I'm wondering if they have those reserved for the mini-pack (micro-pack, met-ro pack, whatever they call them) plans that had been on sale only prior holders and are, just now, being opened up to the new vassals. Hopefully they'll be announcing “Serfs up!” soon.

  • Anonymous

    I would actually disagree with the selection of Franco. Tug McGraw, in my opinion, is the epitome of a Met closer. In addition to his ebullient personality, Tug delivered the goods — sometimes for two or three innings at a time. No, he doesn't have the save totals Franco racked up in the La Russa Era of one-inning-and-out save situations, but McGraw arguably saved bigger games. I don't remember McGraw not being able to get Junior Noboa with the season on the line. (Apologies in advance for bringing that up, but it needed to be said.)

  • Anonymous

    I'm afraid I'd have to give Mr. Davey Johnson the current nod at skipper. Yes, he did come on line just as the youngsters we'd been promised for years grew up and just as the tight pursestrings of previous years had been loosened but is that coincidence or serendipity, talent or timing? All I know is he led the team during the 6 most consistantly good/great years in Mets history with some of the most annoying, needy, heat-seeking personalities ever to play the game. I must say that Davey is the man.

  • Anonymous

    Can't argue with any of it. Except, predictably, I want to see Endy in a Mets uni until he's Rickey's age… and thus make this list.

  • Anonymous

    Insightful as always, gentlemen. Addressing the particulars:
    Taveras vs World: Gotta go with the world on this one.
    McGraw vs. Franco: It's not my habit to support John Franco or pass up a chance to revere Tug McGraw, but the numbers (even in the era in which they were generously registered) are overwhelming. Tug transcends his position in a way that eludes all-time teaming, but Franco has the saves…by a lot.
    Agee vs. Wilson: Tommie may have been the more complete player but, like John Franco, Mookie wins out on longevity. A couple of really good seasons versus plenty of solid seasons. Neither of their teams excels without them. (Also forgot to honorably mention the best CF season pre-Beltran, Lance Johnson '96, but it was just one season.)
    Hodges vs. Johnson vs. Randolph: I thought about doing manager but I was getting tired. The consensus (which is what I was trying to analyze rather than advocate for one player or another) has always rallied around Gil Hodges. Johnson was surely more successful in terms of wins and he was fortunate enough to live longer (though for Davey that meant a way-shortened honeymoon). They were both turnaround artists of the highest order. Gil looms so large in the Mets consciousness that it's hard to dislodge him. If the Mets become a truly perennial contender, then Willie would indeed enter the conversation. That said, my vote in 2002 for the All-Amazin' Team went to Bobby Valentine. And I'd do it again.

  • Anonymous

    The Mets do this in phases. Individual tickets are the last to go on sale, usually in February.

  • Anonymous

    Just a little something to put in your pipe and smoke…
    Baseball-Reference.com has a stat called OPS+, which calculates a player's OBP + SLG and then adjusts it for the stadium and the era. The top all-time Mets in this category (not including pitchers and position players who went 3 for 5 during a September call-up):
    1. Strawberry
    2. Olerud
    3. Piazza
    4. Delgado, Wright
    5. Hernandez

  • Anonymous

    Keep it up, co-No. 4s.

  • Anonymous

    HI Greg,
    Wilson was a great centerfielder and always the gentleman with the smile, but in mid-1985 he began platooning with Lenny Dykstra wheras Agee covered centerfield all by himself on a team notorous for platooning (1B – Kranepool/Clendon, 2B Weiss/Boswell, 3B Charles/Garrett, RF – Shamsky/Swoboda). It therefore can be argued that Agee was more vital to his world championship team than Mookie was in 86 (except, of course, for one patient at-bat).

  • Anonymous

    Good points, Joe. Mookie never had the standout seasons Agee had in '69 or '70, but nobody until Reyes brought the kind of speed Mookie did consistently for the balance of his Mets career. Also, Agee's Mets tenure boiled down to his two really good years. His first ('68) and last ('72) were rather dispiriting (though there were good reasons for both). Mookie put up the same solid season over and over again. That he didn't play every day from '85 on is true — and perhaps testament to Davey Johnson getting the most out of two talented centerfielders.
    Either way, here comes Carlos.

  • Anonymous

    What struck me was the idea that 2006 was a below-average year for Delgado. Some are naturally assuming that it was because of his advancing age, but I'm not sure what role his bum elbow played in it. (I seem to remember it bothering him right from the start, back in Spring Training.) As such, I don't think it's too far-fetched to expect better things from our 35-yr-old first baseman in 2007.

  • Anonymous

    Love your list Greg. Very well thought out and complete. You were wise to leave the managers out as in this area you are a bit off-base, in my opinion.
    While I have no memory of Gil or the '69 team, he is to the pantheon of Mets managers what Herb Brooks is amongst U.S. Olympic hockey coaches.
    To say Davey benefitted from a hugely talented roster unfairly diminishes his role in the development of advocacy for much of the young talent that emerged with that group.
    I love Bobby V, but the Mets had to beat the '99 Braves or 2000 Yankess before he's even part of the conversation.
    Not that I expect to ever change your mind. I think 15 years of Rogers Hornsby here in his prime would gain him, at best, grudging status as co-greatest with Fonzie at second base.

  • Anonymous

    How about all-time Mets pinch hitter?
    My vote goes to (ahem) Rusty.

  • Anonymous

    Anyway you look at it, Gil is never a bad choice.
    Rogers Hornsby's Mets career: Coach in 1962. Team loses 120 games. Hornsby dies in January 1963.
    Fonzie: Silver Slugger in 2000. Mets win pennant. And nobody perished.
    So you're right — Fonzie is awesome.

  • Anonymous

    Somewhere Ed Kranepool is gnashing his teeth.

  • Anonymous

    Can we make up all-time category just to get Desi Relaford involved? Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    Rusty or Ed. Both were clutch off the bench and being lefty swingers, can't even catagorize lefty/righty to include them both.
    Although partial to my fellow alum from James Monroe High School, would have to give the edge to Rusty. His last three seasons mostly pinch-hittng were .296, .264, .267 while Ed's were .281, .210 and .232.

  • Anonymous

    But you have to give Krane the edge because of his speed: 15 steals versus Staub's 6.

  • Anonymous

    Accumulated over parts of 18 seasons versus Rusty's 9.

  • Anonymous

    Here's a question: who's the historical Met with the best intangibles? Totally subjective, but fun anyway. Nails? Mook? Mex? Lots to choose from on last year's team… Cliff, Paulie, Delgado, Jose. (I know, my choices reveal my relative youth.)
    My money's on Turk Wendell, but I am a ridiculous person.

  • Anonymous

    Define, if you can, intangibles…

  • Anonymous

    Hm… maybe: everything that doesn't directly involve the playing of baseball, yet might in some small way contribute to victory. Franco's wise counsel to a fed-up Beltran, Pedro's plastic bat benedictions, and McDowell's zany bullpen prankery would all count. In short, whose personality was the biggest asset to the team?
    Totally unknowable and completely subjective, yes… but, like your favorite Beatle, it says something about who you are. I'm kind of superstitious, and I think Turk Wendell was actually a voodoo shaman. And I want the Mets to hire him back in that capacity.

  • Anonymous

    Vince Coleman, hands down. The man was a firecracker in that clubhouse.

  • Anonymous

    I'm only supporting Kranepool here because I once saw him shopping on a rainy day at the Woodbury Commons outlet mall. He was under one of those Manny Hanny umbrellas they used to give away in lieu of toasters.

  • Anonymous

    Well, last year it was agreed how invaluable Julio Franco's presence was in the clubhouse.
    But my vote for intangeables goes to Tom Seaver – and not because he is a hall of fame pitcher and “franchise”. When he came up in 1967 the Mets were a losing club with a losing attitude. Seaver would have none of that. His desire to win and confidence in himself and team mates were the first steps that transformed the Mets from lovable losers to world champs. He would not accept mediocrity and this was firmly established when the Mets reached .500 in 1969. The press was expecting champaign in the locker room and Seaver angrily barked that reaching .500 was no cause to celebrate. And in a post-game interview after Cleon caught Davey Johnson's fly on the warning track his anger was obvious when referring to the lack of respect by the Orioles and Baltimore thinking the Mets didn't deserve to be on the same field with them.
    A close second to Tom Terrific has to be Mex. He also rid the clubhouse of a losing attitude and became a leader for the young players who turned the team around in 1984.

  • Anonymous

    We fans are really in no position to judge “intangibles” because we rarely ever witness them. “Intangibles” hardly ever manifest themselves in public and are usually created either by the press or our own fevered imaginations. We love a good story, and sometimes refuse to let the facts get in the way of one… even if we have to create it out of nothing, or at best, a single event we happened to see.
    Which of course explains why none of us have ever actually witnessed JETER's so-called claim to the MVP crown… his storied INTANGIBLES. Much ado about nothing, I say.

  • Anonymous

    That's some pickin' there. Check out Krane's pinch-hitting numbers from 1974-1978.
    But first secure your mind. Because it will be blown.

  • Anonymous

    But you gotta admit, David Cone was a real pisser in the bullpen.
    (Scrambling for a Bret Saberhagen bleach joke now…)

  • Anonymous

    In the 1970s, Jimmy The Greek would have “Intangibles” at the bottom of his checklist as he handicapped the factors that would determine the outcome of each game on CBS's The NFL Today. As my friend Joel explained it, it meant that if the Giants were playing the Cowboys, the intangibles were the Giants sucked.
    Zany prankery and loosey-goosey behavior is fun to watch when your team is fun to watch. If they're losing, then the guy doing it is an unserious clown who is contributing to a losing atmosphere. Think about the holy hell almost every announcer raises when a club is losing 4-2 in the sixth and the camera picks up a guy chuckling on the bench. Of course if the next batter hits a three-run homer for the same team and it's 5-4, well, that guy on the bench who was smiling? He's bringin' the good vibes.

  • Anonymous

    Rusty was sneaky fast. No one ever saw him steal all the clubhouse doughnuts. Didn't Ron Leflore say Rusty helped him with his stealing? Those who can do, those who can't teach.
    Joel

  • Anonymous

    And Leflore can simmer a fine broth like nobody's business thanks to Rusty's guidance.

  • Anonymous

    Geez, you just resurrected memories of my friends and I doing our weekly Jimmy The Greek imitations. As a rule, they had to include the chomping of the upper teeth into a pouted, rolled-over lower lip and the inexplicable use of the word intangibles whenever desired.
    In deference to Jimmy and his theories about the breeding patterns that produce athletes, I do think there are certain individuals who come along and change the aura of an organization, though not always for the better. I agree with the other poster who cited Seaver and his no-nonsense approach. And I think Delgado brought something with him last year.
    As for the guy most will want to include in this discussion, Keith Hernandez, I always thought he was something of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he certainly helped to teach a young team how to win — but, on the other hand, his rapid physical decline was likely attributable, in some part, to his own lack of conditioning. I've often wondered what impact, if any, his crap-out had on his younger disciples and on the organization on the whole.

  • Anonymous

    Not to mention all the “good/bad clubhouse presence” stories you hear, then years (or even months) later you hear the truth, sometimes as soon as the guy leaves. That “clubhouse leader” who “inspired his teammates” is often really an arrogant jerk who was hated by most, if not all, of his teammates.
    It's all an illusion. Most of what you read about what goes on in the clubhouse is the reporter's conjecture. Like the latest “Doug Mientkiewicz went to high school with A-Rod, so now A-Rod has an ally in the clubhouse who will help him reach his potential” crapola. Nearly tossed my proverbial cookies when I read that one. I'm guessing so did both named parties.

  • Anonymous

    The save is an utterly bogus statistic. Or, rather, it has become one. It is way too easy to get a save these days, and this lack of difficulty lowers its value.
    John Franco blew the biggest games of his life, whereas Tugger and Jesse didn't. I cannot see this “award” going to anyone other than Tug or Jesse.

  • Anonymous

    You're both totally right, Greg and Laurie. The term doesn't exactly mean anything, and even if it does we have no way of rating it or even seeing it. I didn't mean for this to be actually analytical… I guess I sort of meant it to be a “most charming Met” award, which is totally not what I said. I actually despise the term “intangibles” and have no idea why I wrote it. I hereby retract my question.

  • Anonymous

    Oh. Well, that's easy.
    Tug.

  • Anonymous

    That is, actually, the one and only correct answer.

  • Anonymous

    Part of that good/bad dichotomy is the idea that different groups of people have different needs. So, whereas I might be popular in a group of curious unwed mothers, I might not get the same response from Focus on the Family. I haven't changed in any fundamental way, but the impressions of me created by those groups are largely based on their needs at that particular time. This is what allows the same guy to be a clubhouse cancer in one setting and a leader in another.
    The other aspect is how the members of the organization don't always realize the value of their leader in real time. Strawberry, for example, hated Hernandez during their Met tenures. Now, in hindsight, he wishes he had listened to him a bit more.

  • Anonymous

    That's fair. When Wally Backman was traded, he ostentatiously omitted Keith from the Mets he would miss. When asked why, he indicated Keith's leadership role was overblown or at least out of date by 1988. It was very surprising on the surface given that Wally was considered one of Keith's main disciples a few years earlier. Wally had been younger then, too. If any of that is why the Mets couldn't beat the Dodgers, I have no idea.
    Good luck with those curious unwed mothers.

  • Anonymous

    It's imperative that they're curious…