Thursday, June 21, 2012

All-Time Mets Team

I couldn't go to be there for the suspense last Sunday. I couldn't even watch it as it first aired tonight (Thursday). But I'm watching it now. It's the Mets 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. And I'm sharing a few comments about it.

First off, I like, and more importantly trust any panel that includes the "voices of the Mets" Howie Rose and Gary Cohen. I don't know who made up the rest of the selection panel, but those two were there. Howie and Gary were on the TV program with host Kevin Burkhardt. I like when Howie and Gary are working together like this panel. They did it on the radio for 2 years, and they did it again for a few minutes after the Mets first no-hitter 3 weeks ago tomorrow.

As I watch this program on "tape", I will break it down position-by-position. I also want to include my all-time first and second team. I hate to call it a "bench".

First Base
Ed Kranepool, Dave Kingman, Keith Hernandez, John Olerud
It went to Keith Hernandez. I think the nominees were a little thin here. I wouldn't have considered Dave Kingman with the other 3, but he was also before my time. I really liked Olerud (the only one I saw at an age that I was old enough to appreciate). But Mex was the leader and the piece that turned the franchise around. He's the all-time first baseman.

Second Base
Felix Milan, Doug Flynn, Wally Backman, Edgardo Alfonzo
It went to Edgardo Alfonzo. I never saw Milan or Flynn, so I can't say much about them. Backman was a gritty player, but Fonzie was was the best among them, but he was also a third baseman with the Mets. I'd have to think that counts against him just a little bit. Those couple of years when the Mets had Olerud, Fonzie, and Ordonez were a lot of fun to watch.

Bud Harrelson, Rafael Santana, Rey Ordonez, Jose Reyes
It went to Jose Reyes. I think it should have gone to Buddy. And I never saw him play. Reyes was dynamic, Rey Ordonez was a defensive wizard, but from what I've heard about Buddy Harrelson, I think he was better. I think the injuries have to count against Reyes. I also have a bit of a problem including players of the modern day under the label "All-Time".

Third Base
Hubie Brooks, Howard Johnson, Robin Ventura, David Wright
It went to David Wright. Ventura wasn't with the Mets long enough. Really, neither was Hubie Brooks. HoJo was a great player. Wright, another modern day player, and one who I've been down on at times, I think takes it because of being the "leader" and having the longevity at a position that I remember the Mets used to count the number of people who played it as it kept changing. But he's put up the numbers to back it up.

Right Handed Relief Pitcher
Skip Lockwood, Neil Allen, Roger McDowell, Armando Benitez
It went to Roger McDowell. I never saw Skip Lockwood pitch. I don't necessarily agree with including Neil Allen in this list. Benitez was just too scary for my taste. And I can't think of anyone off hand who should be on this list. McDowell was the best at this special position.

Left Handed Relief Pitcher
Tug McGraw, Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers, John Franco
It went to Tug McGraw. Left handed relief pitchers, at least at the top of the list, was much better than the top of the right handed relief pitcher list. Franco was with the Mets forever. He was the closer for some bad teams. And he's a Mets Hall of Famer. Myers was actually traded for Franco, and was the kid to replace Orosco/McDowell. I think Billy Wagner should have been on this list instead of Myers. Orosco was the guy who grew up with the 1980s Mets and of course was there for the last outs against Houston and Boston in 1986. I never saw Tug pitch, but I've heard a lot about him. He was a cut above the rest.

Jerry Grote, Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Mike Piazza
It went to Mike Piazza. This may have been the most competitive position in 50 years of the Mets. Grote was the backstop of the 1969 Miracle Mets. Hundley was my favorite player growing up in the 1990s. Piazza was the piece that put the late '90s Mets on the next level. Piazza was the guy with the big HR in the first home game after 9/11. But there were times when I was down on Mike Piazza. Sorry. Gary Carter, for my money, was the best catcher in Mets history. His stay was shorter, but he was the last piece of the puzzle for the 1980s Mets championship team (should have been teams).

Despite Carter not winning at his position, I like that SNY had a Gary Carter tribute in the middle of their program tonight.

Left Field
Cleon Jones, George Foster, Kevin McReynolds, Cliff Floyd
It went to Cleon Jones. Foster was another one I never saw play, and I really never heard good things about him. McReynolds came to the Mets when I was just beginning as a Mets fan, but I always thought he was a blah player, despite the numbers he put up. Floyd was a modern-day player who was good, but not a "best". Cleon Jones was the best LF in Mets history.

Center Field
Tommie Agee, Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, Carlos Beltran
It went to Carlos Beltran. I never saw Agee, but I've heard lots of good things about him. Mookie was always a favorite. Lenny was "nails". Beltran was good. I have trouble with this one, only because Beltran was a modern day player, a Met until last year, and I have trouble with that in general just because it's too fresh in my mind. There's a part of me that wants to say that Mookie was better.

Right Field
Ron Swoboda, Rusty Staub, Darryl Strawberry, Bobby Bonilla
It went to Darryl Strawberry. Ok, Bobby Bonilla? Seriously? Straw was the best. Hands down. Rusty is my guy off the bench to pinch hit. But I never saw Rusty play in 1973 with the Mets. Rocky Swoboda was another one from well before my time. But Straw is the best. He was my favorite Met growing up in the late 1980s.

Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Davey Johnson, Bobby Valentine
It went to Davey Johnson. Casey Stengel and the 3 managers who took the Mets to the World Series. Gil turned the team around for the first time. Davey turned the team around the second time. Bobby V turned the team around the third time. And Casey was just fun to listen to (so I've heard). Davey had a more talented team for a longer period of time than Gil Hodges or Bobby Valentine. But I've never heard players so emotional when talking about a manager than when the 1969 Mets talked about Gil Hodges. This may be the toughest call to make, but I agree with Davey Johnson. But Gil Hodges is right there next to Davey on the all-time Mets roster.

Left Handed Starting Pitcher
Jerry Koosman, John Matlack, Sid Fernandez, Al Leiter
It went to Jerry Koosman. Koos and Matlack were both before my time. I've always heard about Seaver (a righty) and Koosman. Leiter was the ace of the Mets teams I enjoyed around the turn of the century. Fernandez was the best lefty when I was first coming up as a Mets fan. But I can't disagree with Koosman.

Right Handed Starting Pitcher
Tom Seaver, Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden, David Cone
It went to Tom Seaver. Of course it did. He was "The Franchise". And the other 3 were in the same pitching rotation. How didn't they win a World Series (at least in the time Cone was there). Doc was electric. I wasn't around in 1985 or really in 1986. But Doc was my other favorite player from the late 1980s teams. Oh what he could have been. Maybe what Tom Seaver was.

So to recap...
1B: Keith Hernandez
2B: Edgardo Alfonzo
SS: Jose Reyes
3B: David Wright
LF: Cleon Jones
CF: Carlos Beltran
RF: Darryl Strawberry
C: Mike Pizza
LH RP: Tug McGraw
RH RP: Roger McDowell
LH SP: Jerry Koosman
RH SP: Tom Seaver
MGR: Davey Johnson

4 from the 1986 Mets
2 from the 2000 Mets
3 from the 2006 Mets
4 from the 1969 Mets

I will give honorable mention to a 7 Mets that didn't make the at their positions, because they certainly deserve to be part of the All-Time Mets team.
1B: Ed Kranepool
SS: Bud Harrelson
3B: Howard Johnson
RF/PH: Rusty Staub
C: Gary Carter
RH SP: Dwight Gooden
MGR: Gil Hodges

Leave a comment or drop me a line at DyHrdMET [at] gmail [dot] com. Your comments will fall into a moderation queue.
"Like" RememberingShea on Facebook (the function formerly known as "Becoming a Fan").
Become a Networked Blog