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Mookie, Davey…It's For Us

The latest indignity to be visited upon the ghosts of Shea past is being unleashed by the ghosts themselves if the Daily News' überdependable Adam Rubin is to be trusted. Rubin reported Sunday that Davey Johnson and Mookie Wilson turned down invites [1] for the September 28 closing ceremonies at Shea. Our winningest manager and our longtime centerfielder, both crucial actors in the drama of 1986, are said to hold grudges against the Mets.

Rubin didn't specify their complaints. Things have always been a little prickly for Davey Johnson since he was fired as skipper in 1990, but he was warmly received on Old Timers Night in 1992 and was on hand when the Mets honored Gary Carter's Hall of Fame induction in 2003. He skipped the 1986 reunion [2] two years ago but Mookie Wilson was front and center that night, despite having been let go as a coach following the 2002 season. Davey was recently busy with the Olympics and Mookie was last seen wearing a Cardinals ski cap during the '06 World Series as he rooted on stepson Preston. I have no idea if there are clues to be divined from any of this. I also don't much care.

I loved and love Mookie Wilson. I adored and adore Davey Johnson. But y'know what? If this is as simple as stubbornness on their part, feh on both of them. Not for all time, not for their track records as Mets, not for the past, but for this. If there's some greater issue pending, some kind of litigation between them and the team, then settle it now or briefly put it aside. It it's just bitterness or resentment or a slight that continues to rankle, get the fudge over it and get yourselves to Shea Stadium on September 28.

There comes a time when it's not about the Mets. There comes a time when it's about the Mets fans. Mookie, Davey, Nolan Ryan [3] and Doc Gooden (also pegged an unlikely attendee [4], though I will continue to hold out hope until they pry the seat from my cold dead ass) are in the wrong here if indeed the Mets sent them an invitation to partake in the farewell of all farewells and they declined. Short of true human tragedy blocking their attendance, they have no business declining.

Instead of simply making like Riff Raff from Underdog [5] — grabbing us by our ankles to shake the spare change from our pockets per usual — management has been uncharacteristically doing the right thing in advance of Closing Day. They've been reaching out to the individual Mets who made Shea Stadium what it's been for 45 seasons. They screwed up their official countdown horribly for too many of its first 55 dates, but they're fast compensating judging by the last homestand (20 to 16 revealed by Maxcine Agee, Bobby Ojeda, Darryl Strawberry, Keith Hernandez and Lee Mazzilli). Now they're trying to bring it all the way home. They're trying to make September 28 about more than nonrefundable deposits [6] for 2009. They're trying to pay homage to the Mets from 1964 on.

So how dare any of those Mets not oblige? How dare Mets like Mookie Wilson and Davey Johnson not overlook their presumably petty complaints and not show up at Shea? They're not sticking it to the Wilpons if they don't come. They're sticking it to us, those who made them what they are. Without us, they'd still have been talented and accomplished. With us, they are larger-than-life and widely beloved. If that doesn't matter to them, too bad. You can wake up the morning of September 29 and go back to being steamed at whomever you're sore. But don't take it out on us. Don't rob us of our closure. Don't detract from our delusions that you ever cared about us except for the vague sense that we had something to do with your paychecks. Don't make us feel silly for the pedestals we erected and maintain on your behalf and how you apparently can't be bothered to stand tall on them for a couple of moments of cap-doffing and bow-taking.

Whatever beef you've got with the Mets should be transcended by the allegiance you've always gotten from Mets fans.

This goes for any Met who sits it out on September 28, the day the roster ideally expands to hundreds. It's wrong for Nolan Ryan to send his regrets. It's wrong for Doc Gooden to not strike out his demons for a day. It's wrong for Mookie Wilson and it's wrong for Davey Johnson. You don't belong to us, but your exploits did and our memories of you do. There will be one day when the stage where we cherished you has its curtain pulled down. That day is around the corner. It should be a day for celebration, not recrimination.