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A Special Sunday

Viewed from the proper perspective, the Mets played a Hall of Fame-caliber game Saturday night. When Giancarlo Stanton [1] becomes eligible for consideration, some future producer will incorporate the clip of Stanton’s third-inning Neptune shot off Jacob deGrom [2] into a persuasive highlight montage to illustrate why the Marlins slugger merits election. They can use a bit of Jose Fernandez [3] keeping the Mets mostly at bay for seven innings as well when he reaches the ballot.

That’s a long way away. The Marlins pulled a long way away from the Mets in the game in question, winning by five [4] after trailing by two and extending the difference between them and the Mets in the Wild Card standings to one-and-a-half games. That’s not an insurmountable distance. Stanton’s home run, however…good luck scaling that mountain.

Saturday night from Miami was a bummer but Sunday from Cooperstown should be special. Hall of Fame consideration for Mike Piazza [5], underway on some level for probably two decades at least, finally pays off this afternoon. Mike Piazza is going into the Hall of Fame.

Going into the Hall of Fame as a New York Met.

We’ve known this since January 6, felt it in our gut since no later than 2005, mulled it over since 1998 [6]. When he signed the multiyear megacontract that kept him a Met after sampling Shea Stadium for part of a season, he told us a Mets cap was his preference. At the time, Mike didn’t have enough years to qualify five years later; it takes ten years of MLB play to begin the process. Yet it wasn’t presumptuous to wonder, even then, what cap Mike Piazza, eventual Hall of Famer would wear..

Piazza’s first major league experience came in 1992. By 1993, he was being spoken of in elevated terms. When he hit the trade market (twice) in ’98, it was no mere salary dump. Mike Piazza was already in line to go down as the greatest-hitting catcher ever. Of course the Hall of Fame was in sight.

Opening Night in Atlanta in 2001 gave him a toe in a tenth big league season. He could have retired thereafter and he’d be eligible to be on the ballot for induction in 2007. Maybe that would have worked better for him. Those who vote wouldn’t have had time to think about Mike in the context of the era he played and decide that maybe something about his enormous totals wasn’t kosher. In 2001, it was ridiculous to think he wouldn’t go in ASAP. By 2002, it was preposterous to think of him on a plaque in a cap that didn’t spell out NY, given what he’d given New Yorkers the September before.

He left us in the active-roster sense in 2005, amicably. We figured that when the dust settled on what was left of his career, we’d see him in Cooperstown and that we’d recognize him by those initials. Nothing occurred in the intervening decade-plus to disabuse us of that notion, save for a little self-fortifying Mets fan paranoia. All we needed was for Mike to get in in order for him to go in. That took four ballots. He had to stand accused for three years. He withstood the judgment. No hard evidence emerged. By his fourth contest, there was no stopping him.

Today is the end result. Today is Mike Piazza on the Hall of Fame podium nodding in our direction. The NY will be on his plaque. The Mets will be in his heart. He is already in ours.