Maybe Terry Collins should have motivated the Mets more directly once they got to the postseason. Maybe he should have taken a page from Walt Michaels, the Jets head coach who, in the midst of the 1982 NFL playoffs, grabbed his players attention by focusing it squarely on the bottom line.
“I remember Walt Michaels walking in — I forget the difference in dollar amount, if you won the game or lost the game — but I think the first game if we won, you got $5,000 per player,” Marty Lyons told Greg Prato in Sack Exchange: The Definitive Oral History of the 1980s New York Jets . “I remember Walt walking in there with a stack of one-hundred dollar bills at the team meeting, and saying, ‘Hey do you guys want this? Then win.’ And the next week, he did the same thing […] It was a materialistic thing that you could look down and go, ‘Wow, man, that’s a stack of a-hundred-dollar bills. If we win, we each get a stack.’”
The Jets beat the Bengals, then the Raiders, road wins earned when Michaels showed them the money. The coach literally brought a briefcase full of bills into the locker room. His players responded. It was genius, at least until Don Shula directed the Orange Bowl grounds crew to keep the tarp off the field in a monsoon. There, into the Miami mud, went the Jets’ opportunity to make the Super Bowl for the first time in fourteen years, not to mention the $36,000 each man could’ve stuffed into his own briefcase had they won what non-rights holders are legally obligated to refer to as The Big Game.
Fast-forward to the 2016 Mets. Different sport, different times, different values, but you’d figure the chance to survive, advance and cash in might still carry sway among professional athletes. A little “walking around money” never dampened anybody’s enthusiasm (unless that was its intention ). So maybe if Collins, before first pitch on October 5, had gathered his troops and opened a couple of valises of legal tender and told them how they could be enhancing their personal situations by sticking it to Madison Bumgarner, then perhaps the lefty wouldn’t have proven so unhittable to them.
Ah, probably not. Major League Baseball players, on average, pull in more than $4 million a year. That’s a lot of hundred-dollar bills and a lot of luggage to begin with. Postseason bonuses probably don’t hold the same sway they did in 1951, when, after Ralph Branca gave up a home run of some renown to Bobby Thomson, Carl Erskine remarked to Clem Labine, “That’s the first time I’ve seen a big fat wallet go flying into the seats.” Erskine knew that just for showing up in the World Series, the Dodgers would have gotten paid. Instead, the Giants picked their pockets.
The Mets showed up for just one game in the 2016 postseason, and they got a little somethin’ somethin’ for their trouble. That’s how it works these days. Even the Wild Card teams that get left behind are entitled to a taste. Fifty percent of the gate receipts from the two Wild Card games goes toward filling the overall postseason qualifiers’ players’ pool , so why shouldn’t have the Mets gotten their beaks modestly damp?
Among them, our boys got to divide $1,149,417.41. One would like to think the 41 Seaveriffic cents was Met-specific, but the Orioles got the same amount for making/losing the A.L. Wild Card game. The total was not only less than the Mets received for winning the pennant in 2015 ($16,771,715.82), but their individual full shares of $17,951.65 amounted to $386.53 less than the $18,338.18 each world champion Met received in 1969. It’s nice to know some numbers still hold up in baseball.
The Mets already did their voting and sharing and so forth, issuing those 51 full shares, 12.75 partial shares and five cash awards. They don’t tell us who exactly got what (they include coaches, trainers, batboys and various characters in their calculations). As we discussed in this space a year ago , there is a long and rich — sometimes not so rich — tradition to this business. When the Mets finished tied for third in the National League East in 1975 (back when a “first division” finish earned you points), The Sporting News was kind enough to let its readers know Jerry Moses, the catcher who spent time on the roster but never in a game, was awarded $27.34 by his sort-of teammates.
They didn’t ask me then to help distribute the funds, and they haven’t asked me lately, but as in 2015, I’m not going to let that stop me. Here, for the players’ theoretical chump-change pleasure and our vicarious thrills, are the second annual — and ain’t it great that we get to do it two years in a row? — Faith and Fear Mets Postseason Shares Like They Oughta Be. We have 46 members of the 2016 Mets to take care of and $1,149,417.41 with which to do it. We’d love to be more generous, but we’d also have loved it if the Mets had won the World Series and collected the $27,586,017.75 the Cubs pulled in.
In the midst of the Christmas and Chanukah seasons, as in early October, it serves as a good reminder that we can’t have everything we want, but a little is better than nothing.
The Biggest Share: The Most Valuable Met  gets the most valuable slice. Let’s give Asdrubal Cabrera a cool $80,000.
The Biggest Bat: You don’t get anywhere without Yo. Yoenis Cespedes can use his share to purchase polish for the wheels on one or two of his flashy automobiles. $65,000.
The Captain: In our imagination, he’s too humble to accept a dime after missing the final four months of the season, but we’ll pull rank on David Wright’s behalf and let him now his position still means something to us. $60,000.
The All-Stars: In addition to Cespedes, Noah Syndergaard, Jeurys Familia and Bartolo Colon each earned trips to San Diego. Unlike Cespedes, they actually went (none pitched; thanks again, Terry ). $50,000 each.
The Team Player: Curtis Granderson remained active every day of 2016, the only ostensible regular who could say that. Played in 150 games. Switched positions as needed. A team man and then some . $45,000.
The Mainstays: Alejandro De Aza, Addison Reed and Jerry Blevins remained on the active roster every day of 2016. They were the only Mets besides Thor, Bart, Jeurys and Grandy to do so. They are recognized for their durablity. $42,500 each.
The Almost Mainstays: Hansel Robles missed only the first two games of 2016, serving a dopey leftover suspension from 2015. Jacob deGrom left only for family reasons in April and was gracious enough to stick around in September even though he was unable to pitch. $42,000 each.
The Tough Break: Wilmer Flores, Neil Walker and Steven Matz were coming back any day. Really they were. The stretch drive ensued without them, but they pushed the Mets toward the edge of success. $40,000 each.
The Rescue Squad: Who had René Rivera, James Loney, Jose Reyes, Kelly Johnson, T.J. Rivera, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman in the Ultimately Indispensable Pool on Opening Night? $35,000 each.
The Remembered Guys: Not to be forgotten are those whose contributions were curtailed after being vital elements of a contender early. Here’s to Lucas Duda, Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto. $30,000 each.
The Big Hang With ’Ems: Better days ahead, we hope, for Matt Harvey, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, three whose careers took a step back in 2016. $25,000 each.
The Power Ball Bonus: Let’s say two-hundred per Met homer for Jay Bruce. $1,600.
The Latecomer: Fernando Salas showed up just in time to be sort of important to the cause. $1,200.
The Grand Illusion. A grand for the illusion that was Justin Ruggiano in a Mets uniform. Was he really here? Did he really hit a grand slam off Bumgarner? Damn, that might have come in handy in October. $1,000.
The Welcome…Aboard: Matt Reynolds, Ty Kelly, Brandon Nimmo and Josh Smoker all made promising debuts. We promise they’ll get more if they come back and do more to get us further. $500 each.
The April Showers: Logan Verrett and Jim Henderson were twice as good in the fourth month of the year as they were at any other time. $400 each.
The Sayonara: Good luck in Japan, Eric Campbell. You too, ideally, Rafael Montero (seriously, he should definitely try pitching on the other side of the International Date Line, since that’s where most of his pitches land anyway). $300 each.
The Long Schlep Back. No doubt Josh Edgin worked hard to return to the majors. To what end is another matter, but the effort is appreciated. $200.
The Nice Kids: Gavin Cecchini and Gabriel Ynoa certainly seem nice enough. Niceness should be its own reward, but we’ll be nice to them. $150 each.
The Also Appearing: Clearly I’m missing something with Sean Gilmartin and Erik Goeddel, because I almost never remember either is on the roster (and am almost invariably sorry to learn they are after they’ve pitched). $100 each.
The Decision: It was recently pointed out to me that Antonio Bastardo appeared in 41 games without a decision, and that must be a franchise record. I looked it up, and sure enough, it is, beating Alex “The Hat” Torres’s previous standard by two. For an 0-0 record and taking a Keith Hernandez sigh-inducing eternity to come to the decision that he wanted to throw a pitch, we’ll give him $17.
The Him Again: Jon Niese, like Tom Seaver, was traded back to the Mets by the team they traded him to — for Antonio Bastardo, no less. For earning a mention in the same sentence as Tom Seaver in the only way we could imagine in 2016 , we’ll give him and his 11.45 ERA in six appearances the remaining 41 cents.