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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
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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Mike's Day Will Come

The sound and the fury notwithstanding, nothing much changed from a purely parochial perspective following Wednesday’s Hall of Fame announcement. Mike Piazza still rocks, T#m Gl@v!ne still galls and Tom Seaver still rules.

Piazza didn’t gain induction. Big deal. He continues to be one of the absolute greatest Mets there ever was, his membership in the Hall of Greg remains valid and his 62.2% from Cooperstown’s high and mighty arbiters of immortality (and morality) represented an improvement from the previous vote, indicating that within a couple of elections, he’ll probably get in, most likely etched under a Mets cap.

He should be in already. But you already knew that.

Gl@v!ne, meanwhile, becomes the twelfth Mets player to make the Hall. Yippee. I thought I might tap into some long-dormant vein of rose-colored viewing and say something generous on T#m’s behalf — perhaps recalling his two outstanding starts in the ’06 playoffs or how he learned to work the inside of the plate at an advanced age when quesTec compelled him to change his careerlong approach — but I don’t have it in me, other than to acknowledge he won 305 games, two Cy Youngs and there was no unbiased reason to keep him out. Even with a permanent record encompassing his final three Mets starts (14.81 ERA and zero garments rended as his team surrendered its playoff spot), there’s no arguing against him residing in Cooperstown.

They can have him.

His Braves buddy Greg Maddux goes in, too, which is fine and dandy on merit, especially since Maddux didn’t break Seaver’s vote-percentage record of 98.84. That’s an admittedly petty concern, but it’s been our treasured heirloom since 1992, so I’ll be petty on its behalf. MLB Network got Maddux and Gl@v!ne on the air (with their man Smoltz) for requisite fawning and teasing about how much they’ll love playing golf upstate this summer. If I closed my eyes, it was somewhere between 1993 and 2002 and Braves pitching was the same immovable object all over again. It wasn’t a pretty sight to behold, even in the imagination.

The Big Hurt made it. Good for Frank Thomas, whose three-run homer off Jeff D’Amico in Interleague action in 2002 — the only series in which he ever faced the Mets — failed to leave a scar. Maybe our Frank Thomas will accidentally receive more of his mail as a result. Any excuse to invoke the man who hit 34 home runs for a 120-loss team is a welcome diversion.

Six Mets who weren’t Piazza or Gl@v!ne also rode the 2014 ballot. Only one will return in 2015: Jeff Kent. He stopped being a Met in 1996, which was in another millennium. Then he went on to become one of the most prolific slugging second basemen of all time. Go figure. His 15.2% of the vote indicates he’ll be talked if not to death then perhaps to sniffles for at least a few more elections.

Kent was a helluva Met for one month in particular: April 1994. Remember when John Buck was challenging the franchise record for most RBIs in an April? That was Jeff’s mark he bore down on but  couldn’t top. What an April it was 20 years ago: 26 runs batted in, seven homer and an OPS of 1.160. Kent stopped being such hot orange and blue stuff thereafter, but I’m willing to call it a Hall of Fame month.

Rather than grind too many teeth over the events of September 30, 2007 (which suddenly seems uncomfortably recent), I will choose to harbor selectively fond memories of the unquestionably unpopular or relatively forgotten Mets who won’t be considered for Cooperstown any longer. Like Jeff Kent. Like the other five.

Paul Lo Duca received zero votes, but he seamlessly replaced a legend in 2006 and was a major reason the Mets leapt ahead of the N.L. East pack to stay. We wouldn’t have our sole set of post-Piazza postseason memories if not for Lo Duca. It may not be worth a Hall of Fame vote, but it shouldn’t be forgotten.

Moises Alou received six votes for a very solid, occasionally stellar career. Boy could he hit. He hit in a Mets-best 30 consecutive games as all else was falling apart around him late in 2007. He was 41 and dead tired, yet he kept playing and kept hitting. Not exactly a bulletproof Cooperstown credential, but I warm to the thought.

Hideo Nomo was between his phenomenon stage and his comeback period as a four-month Met in 1998. His six votes today aren’t for what he did as the Mets fell once game shy of forging a three-way tie for the Wild Card. Nevertheless, a 10-strikeout complete-game gem at San Francisco stands out in my mind from that playoff hunt. He could’ve done more (like take the ball when Bobby Valentine tried to hand it to him for the last start of the season), but he did something. It was better than nothing.

Kenny Rogers…yeah, I know. But I also know this, thanks to Baseball Musings: seven games played at Shea Stadium as a Met — all in 1999 — and the Mets won every time. You know who was a more successful home park player for the Mets in their history? Nobody. No kidding. It may be glory by association, but nobody can touch that 7-0 record. It was Turner Field where he found trouble, but that was a bit later. And given the closeness of regular-season affairs in 1999, there’s no underestimating how important Kenny Rogers was in getting the Mets to October.

I mean, yeah, Kenny Rogers…bases loaded, ball four, I get it. Believe me I get it. But he really did help there for a while. I wouldn’t have cast the one Hall of Fame vote he got, but I’m not going to scream that he accumulated one.

Armando Benitez would be remembered as an outstanding Met reliever if not for the handful of times he managed to be incredibly dreadful, which, given his job description, were always when it mattered most. So I’ll conveniently skip over crucial territory and give Armando and his one inexplicable vote received their due, not for all the saves he piled up (which are usually written off as culled in pressure-free situations, though that’s not an entirely fair characterization), but in honor of one appearance that stays with me because it was so much fun to witness.

At Shea in June of 1999, when every game was already important to the Mets breaking their eleven-year playoff drought, Benitez was brought on to protect a 4-2 lead against the Marlins. He retired the order in the top of the eighth. The Mets then went about tacking on runs in the home half of the inning. Benitez seemed poised to exit in favor of a pinch-hitter and ultimately John Franco, but with the score jacked up to 7-2, two on and nobody out, Bobby V said, essentially, “what the hell?” and let his hard-throwing reliever bat.

Benitez grounded to third, bringing home Roger Cedeño the sixth run of the inning. It was the first RBI of the pitcher’s career, and all of us on hand stood and gave him a hearty ovation. Then the usual setup man went out to finish the game, striking out all three Marlins he faced. Soon enough, he’d be the closer and it would never look so easy or feel very cheery, but if there had to be a solitary vote thrown away on Armando Benitez, let it be thrown away against that pleasant memory.

Benitez, Rogers, Nomo and Alou will all be absent from next year’s ballot, but we will have Pedro Martinez, Gary Sheffield and Carlos Delgado to pick around, along with the great Piazza. Their arguments can wait, though it occurs to me nobody’s candidacy ever looms so promising as when he has yet to be overlooked.

Think about it. A year ago at this time, Kent’s name was included with Maddux’s, Gl@v!ne’s, Thomas’s and Mike Mussina’s as part of the supposed powerhouse class to come. New meat is inevitably framed that way. Yet Kent and Mussina languished toward the rear of the results while the others waltzed in. So I’d advise, in case you’re thinking Pedro is a lock or that Delgado and Sheffield stack up reasonably well, cherish this moment in time when nobody’s seasons of accomplishments are yet reduced to afterthought status, when BBWAA members of various stripe have yet to casually dismiss hundreds of homers or thousands of hits as if attaining them took nothing special.

These elections cue Terry Cashman’s classic in my head, not the “Willie, Mickey and the Duke” refrain of “Talkin’ Baseball” so much as the contemporary verse he included to celebrate how our grand old game keeps rolling along. One line in particular resonates today:

Seaver, Garvey, Schmidt
And Vida Blue
If Cooperstown is calling
It’s no fluke

Seaver and Schmidt were called. Blue and Garvey weren’t. Terry went 2-for-4 in his 1981 forecast for surefire immortality. That’s a batting average of .500. But we’ve all learned in the ensuing decades that batting average isn’t everything.

24 comments to Mike’s Day Will Come

  • Dave

    For starters, I might have to take extra blood pressure meds tonight. What a double whammy…the non-induction a travesty, and the one who did get in, well, it’s even less of a thrill than when former Mets star Roberto Alomar got the call from Cooperstown. I admire your restraint, I’m pissed.

    And being an acknowledged Gloomy Gus about the chances of outcomes that make Mets fans happy, I disagree with the headline. I don’t see Mike suddenly getting a spike of votes…he wasn’t very close this time around, and while I have no data to back it up, my gut tells me that once guys don’t make it for about 3 years, the support starts slipping.

    • Nothing new to be pissed about. BBTF gizmo indicated Piazza would fall short. That he rose while almost everybody else fell indicates his trajectory is sound. Best precedent comp is Carter, who started at 42.3%, dipped in his second year but jumped back up in his third. He had to wait six years but he made it. Piazza (inane moralistic hand-wringing and all) is way ahead of Carter’s pace. Once Biggio gets in, I think Mike rises as well as he begins to look better and better and any reason to vote against him fades. Because no matter how he “looked,” he wasn’t Bonds or Clemens.

      The ATL pitchers aren’t a surprise in the least, so again, no fresh pissage there.

  • Shawn Butler

    Great stuff. I always love what you do with Gl@v!ne’s name. Classic.

    Question for you: Do you think Piazza used PEDs?

    • I don’t think he did because if there was real evidence on Mike, how would it have remained covered up this long? And if he did, honestly, I wouldn’t care…that much.

      I stand by what I wrote when an allegation went fluttering by five years ago.

  • Gl@vine won 61 games for the Mets. OH, if it had been 62…

  • Lenny65

    If Gl@v!ne had laid a bigger egg in his final Met start he’d still be having trouble sitting properly to this day. It was like a giant turd on top of the big garbage-flavored cake otherwise known as September 2007. I hope the Hall improperly hangs his plaque so it falls and breaks, fine career be damned.

  • Patrick O'Hern

    Whenever I see “The Happiest Recap” I think of the 1974 yearbook cover. I became a fan in ’75; looking forward to next edition. When’s she available? Does Mike Glavine get to be inducted into the Hall for a day?

    • Will alert when THR: 2B is available, hopefully in near future. Glad you got the yearbook allusion.

      Mike Glavine…all due respect to a presumably hard-working Triple-A first baseman, but how strange was that?

  • metsfaninparadise

    What was Warren Spahn’s line about Casey Stengel? “I pitched for him before and after he was a genius.” Hideo Nomo, of course, pitched a no-hitter both before and after being a Met.

  • Kevin From Flushing

    I’m actually glad that I don’t have to sit through Maddux, Glavine, and LaRussa’s speeches so I could hear Mike’s, so I’m fine with him taking a pass this year. But if he goes in next year with battery-mate Pedro? It couldn’t be much better.

    But hey: Piazza and Bagwell don’t get in because people simply assume they were juicing–but Frank Thomas gets in? I’ll look at it on the bright side: maybe the Big Hurt’s inclusion will help give favor to Mike and Bags.

    Not for nothing, but while all the talk may be about how Biggio barely missed out (admittedly unfortunate), Bagwell was far and away a scarier hitter. If Biggio was hitting behind him, you’d pitch around Bags. And yet…

    • Thomas was outspoken against PEDs whereas Bagwell, Biggio and Piazza were silent. This means nothing where their credentials for induction are concerned, but that seemed to work for Thomas.

      The onslaught of those testifying to the Brave pitchers’ wonderfulness yesterday took me back to the day the Mets had for the one who pitched for them after his 300th win. The DiamondVision was clogged with Cox and Mazzone and Smoltz…oh my.

      Piazza and Pedro would be great. Piazza and Chipper, if it comes to that (I hope it doesn’t take that long) would be fun in its own way.

  • Joe D.

    Hi Greg,

    Hope you don’t mind me sharing this email sent to you and some of our mutual acquaintances a little while ago since we both feel the same way.

    – Frank Thomas Elected To The Hall –

    “It was about time.

    “For so many years he held the Mets seasonal records for home run andruns batted in and is still tied for the all important major league record for most times hit by a pitch in the same inning – two (I was there at the Polo Grounds when he set the mark but being just nine years old I was unappreciative of the historical importance of what I was witnessing). He is so well remembered for running into Richie Ashburn on a pop fly after Ashburn asked what “I got it” meant in Spanish so he could call off shortstop Ellio Chacon who did not understand English – which he then did while forgetting that Thomas did not understand Spanish. Thomas was able to win bets by catching fastballs thrown to him with just his bare hands without dropping them.

    “Frank was with the team for nearly three years then brought his Met experience to the Phillies as they went on to blow a 6-1/2 game lead with just 12 games left to play back in 1964 (in that trade, the Mets got in return pitcher Gary Kroll who combined with Gordon Richardson to pitch the only no hitter in Met history until Johann Santana in 2012 – coming at the hands of the hard hitting Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training in 1965).

    “In addition he….., oh, wait a second. I’m being told there was another guy with the same name and that he’s the one who got elected instead. Too bad – I still think they chose the wrong fella.”

    • Joe D. for Veterans Committee!

      • Joe D.

        Hi Greg,

        Thanks for the endoresement, however, I think I would be voted off the Committee once they saw me nominating those like our own Frank Thomas, Marvelous Marv, Hot Rod, Choo Choo, the two Bob Millers and all the others.

        My argument would simply be that the immeasurable contributions they made for the good of and for the love of the game could never be found in statistics and for that they need a special place in the Hall so they will never be forgotten in the hearts of future generations.

  • Dennis

    Good for Glavine. You whiners need to get over that last start in 2007. Admittedly, it was putrid and he made dumb comments after the game…..time to get the fuck over it. He/they should have never been put in that position. He went 2-1 in the 2006 playoffs and had an ERA under 2.00 in both series……I guess that doesn’t count for anything? And Greg……it seems like you’re cutting more slack for Kenny Rogers and Benitez? Give me a break.

    • Dave

      Dennis – Shawn Green hit over .300 in the 2006 postseason, and we’re erecting no monuments to him either. Glavine’s aggregate performance in a Mets uniform was a very mediocre one. Obviously the Braves knew when to cut him loose, as they always did in those days…people would get excited about acquiring pitchers with a Braves pedigree (remember Pete Smith?), but that was pointless, because they kept the good ones. So Glavine joins various fellow HOF’ers whose time as Mets were minor footnotes at the bottom of the back of their baseball cards, only wearing the blue and orange when their best days were behind them.

      But the 2007 meltdown is still a bitter taste for Mets fans because it started the descent from which the franchise has yet to emerge. If they had been good since, maybe we’d have an easier time getting over it. Like it or not, Glavine deserves his share of the venom, because not only did he pitch poorly when the team needed a good start from its 300-game winner future HOF’er with loads of big game experience, the fans needed to hear him say he felt pain like we did. Our anger isn’t so much as a road bump to him, so there’s no harm in expressing it.

    • It was Say Something Nice About Mets Who Didn’t Get Elected But Were On The Ballot Day, an irregular FAFIF tradition, held under the theory that everybody deserves at least one decent Met memory unless they’re wholly repulsive as human beings (and maybe even if they are).

      In simpler Cooperstown times, I advocated the single vote for the obvious non-inductee as long as it wasn’t causing any shall we say legitimate candidates inconvenience. With the ballot overstuffed and sanctimony flowing like chablis, I’m less thrilled that the Jacque Joneses, J.T. Snows and, yes, Armando Benitezes are sucking up ballot space, but they had lengthy careers, too.

      TG has the HOF. He doesn’t need as much as slack from me, especially on the day he’s elected. You’ll notice that embedded into my disdain, I don’t begrudge him his plaque or his accomplishments. I’d go as far to say that on a day when he doesn’t suddenly show up all over my television, I’m not particularly actively bothered by him.

  • Ed Rising

    It’s funny when our cable package picked up TBS, virtually all the Braves games played on that station. Back then the Braves were usually safely tucked away in the basement of the NL WEST. It was safe to root for them as their young pitchers like Glavine, Smoltz and Avery developed. They had exciting young players too like David Justice, Ron Gant, Deion Sanders and two guys named Greg Olson. The Braves were my mistress circa 90-94 while our Mets were underachieving with high salaried disappointments like Eddie Murray and Vince Coleman; and our ’86 Mets team was ripped apart. I was glad to obtain Tom Glavine and am proud he won his 300th game with the Mets and for dealing with strike zone and other issues that happen to every pitcher who has the opportunity to pitch 15-20 years in the big leagues. This includes my favorite of all time, Tom Seaver – he had his woes too. I’m sure if the Red Sox had needed Seaver down the stretch and couldn’t pitch due to his injury there would be some Bosox fan that be agains Tom being elected to the HOF. Glavine is totally deserving of the HOF and I congratulate him whole heartedly. I will excuse him his lousy moment at the end of 2007, and his comments afterward. This is because it seems to be the sickness of the ‘professional athlete’. Al Leiter said some horrible things about the Mets after he left as a free agent – this after being a leader on those Mets teams. I was angry with Leiter for years but what does it get me? So Tom Glavine may not be truly a Met HOF’r, but he belongs.

    One more thing, the idiot who voted for Armando Benitez though should have his vote taken away. Greg, I would like to know where you stand on how HOF voting should be updated to include the blogging/internet news community. I’d like to see you get a vote.

  • Berdj Joseph Rassam

    You can’t objectively argue against any of the 3 who made it in.