There was one panel from yesterday's Queens Baseball Convention that really struck me. There were a lot of great panels to listen to, some of which I even got to see, but the retired numbers panel is worth its own blog post.
There's been a great debate among Mets fans, at least in the social media age, about what numbers the Mets should retire and why they haven't had a new one since Tom Seaver in 1988. I don't remember if I've written about this before, but I had some new thoughts about this. I should mention that I walked in about 15 minutes late to the hour-long panel.
I have 2 paths of thought on retired numbers. This is aside from the largely ceremonial numbers 37, 14, 42 and Shea.
One is that nothing should change with the retired numbers they have, and that the Mets Hall of Fame is considered the honor (though I think the Mets Hall of Fame should honor accomplishments as much as individual players - imagine Johan Santana No Hitter Day). Maybe if a player comes up through the Mets system, as Tom Seaver did, and has a Hall of Fame career, as Seaver did, even if they didn't finish their career as a Met, as Seaver, they should get their number retired. I don't think David Wright is destined for the Hall of Fame, but if he was, he'd be the candidate for this.
The other is that the Mets should open the floodgates and retire the numbers of several players. Then where do you start? Piazza when he gets into the Hall of Fame (he just had his Mets HOF day at the end of the 2013 season)? But what about Gary Carter, a Hall of Famer who spent a few years with the Mets including being a leader of the 1986 World Champions? As as noted in the panel yesterday, Keith Hernandez might be paired with Carter and might even go first, based on his tenure as a Met. Then what about Doc and Darryl? And why stop at the 1986 Mets when Buddy Harrelson and Jerry Koosman of the 1969 team might be even more deserving (longer tenures as Mets for sure). And if we're looking at long tenures, what about Eddie Kranepool and John Franco? Can you retire a number symbolically for multiple players (31 for Franco & Piazza...45 for Franco & McGraw)?
Where do you draw the line for this honor? What is the qualification for it? Every franchise has different qualifications. Every franchise has a different history too. That's why I lean towards the 1st train of thought that the earned retired numbers (only Seaver) is the highest honor for "The Franchise" and nobody else, and the Mets HOF is the honor equivalent to what we think retired numbers should be. That's the debate. And it wouldn't be any fun to have if we didn't have the debate.
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