2012 Mets All-Time Team: My Choices and My Reaction
As I watched the re-airing of the selections of the 2012 Mets All-Time Team, I compared my selections to those made by the selectors.
Some selections were completely obvious to me, others slightly to completely surprising.
Without further delay, I give you my reaction to the Mets All-Time Team.
Special thanks to The Mets Police for giving me the list of nominees.
First Baseman: Keith Hernandez
My Choice: Hernandez
Other nominees: Ed Kranepool, Dave Kingman, John Olerud
What can I say? Hernandez is a lock for the best first baseman of all time. He was part of the 1986 World Champions, an offensive leader, and a Gold Glove and All-Star selection.
Hernandez had heart and soul, but while Kranepool spent his entire career with the Mets from 1962-1979 and while Dave Kingman and John Olerud were known for their hitting prowess, Hernandez was a complete player.
Second Baseman: Edgardo Alfonzo
My Choice: Wally Backman
Other nominees: Felix Millan, Doug Flynn
This came as a bit of a shock. Sure, Alfonzo was one of a new breed of power-hitting middle infielders, but for me, it was Backman's grit that sold me.
Not to discredit Alfonzo, in retrospect, he provided the Mets with some clutch hitting, especially in the playoffs. What I remembered before I voted, however, was his switching from third to second and finally back to third base.
Felix Millan would have had a little bit of skin in this race, as he would have been a sabermatrician's dream had Bill James published his work earlier.
Shortstop: Jose Reyes
My Choice: Bud Harrelson
Other nominees: Rey Ordonez, Rafael Santana
My Reaction: Call me biased and call me old fashioned, but in my humble opinion, Bud Harrelson was more of a Met than Jose Reyes.
Sure, he wasn't as prolific a hitter and sure, his accomplishments are probably long forgotten, but Harrelson was part of a team that experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Not to say that Reyes didn't (he was injured his first two years), but I feel that Harrelson would have been the better pick.
As for Ordonez and Santana, both All-Glove No-Hit shortstops, they didn't really merit much consideration.
Third Baseman: David Wright
My Choice: Wright
Other Nominees: Hubie Brooks, Howard Johnson, Robin Ventura
Twenty years from now, when Wright is long retired and in the Mets Hall of fame, people will be saying that he was one of the best third basemen of his generation.
Wright has the bat, the glove, and the charisma to be a member of the All-Time Team and was probably the second most obvious selection on the team.
Catcher: Mike Piazza
My Choice: Piazza
Other nominees: Gary Carter, Todd Hundley, Jerry Grote
Part of me thought that Gary Carter was going to win this because of his leadership, but part of me also realized it would be more out of pity to pick him.
Mike Piazza is by far the greatest offensive catcher of all-time and a 12-time Silver Slugger and All-Star, with most of those awards coming as a Met. Piazza defined the culture of the late 90's - mid 00's Mets. He brought charisma, passion, and heart to the Mets in his seven and a half years there, including his greatest moment, during the game on 9/21/01.
Give the presenters credit as well for acknowledging Carter with a highlight video. This was very classy on their part.
Outfielders: Cleon Jones, Carlos Beltran, Darryl Strawberry.
My Choices: (LF) Cleon Jones (CF) Mookie Wilson (RF) Rusty Staub
Other nominees: (LF) George Foster, Kevin McReynolds, Cliff Floyd
(CF) Len Dykstra, Tommie Agee
(RF) Ron Swoboda, Bobby Bonilla
(LF) For the left field selection, choosing anybody else but Jones would have been akin to saying that Ringo Starr was the greatest Beatle of all time. Jones not only caught the final out of the World Series, but he was also one of the best players in the 1960's and 1970's.
George Foster was great before he came to the Mets, but he couldn't replicate his power stroke from Cincinnati and lost relevancy.
Kevin McReynolds may have played five years with the Mets, but the one thing that I'll remember him most for is the fact that he was traded for another promising young left fielder named Kevin Mitchell.
Cliff Floyd may have been one of the better hitters for the Mets in the Duquette/early Minaya era, but other than that, he was injury prone and was certainly past his years of relevancy in Florida.
(CF) Carlos Beltran? Over Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra, AND Tommie Agee? Did Howie Rose lose his mind when he made this pick?
You have the guy who turned the tide in the 1986 World Series with the Buckner Ball, one of his teammates, and the guy who made two fantastic catches in the 1969 World Series and you choose a guy who had three good years with the team, but never truly lived up to expectations? Come on, man.
Beltran may joint hold the single season Mets home run record with 41 home runs, but when you have such accomplished players like Wilson, Dykstra, and Agee, you have to look longer and harder at this and think beyond the stats.
(RF) Part of the reason why I chose Staub over Strawberry was the fact that he played through his pain in the 1973 World Series. Staub also was one of the premier hitters of the 1970's who provided the offensive spark needed for the Mets to make it to the playoffs in 1973. Staub had heart and his loyalty has been with the Mets, despite the fact that he started out as an Astro, had his number retired in Montreal, and had a pit stop in Detroit.
I never really saw Strawberry as more than just a hitter. Sure, he was a first overall draft pick, and sure, he was also an All-Star. But to be totally honest, his latter years with the Mets really put me off. This is considering how he suffered an alcohol problem, left his team when they needed him most and later regretted it, and until recently, had trouble handling his personal demons. Strawberry may have had the stats, but his emotion was not there.
Righthanded Starter: Tom Seaver
My Choice: Seaver
Other nominees: Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, David Cone
My Reaction: What's the Mets All-Time Team without Tom Seaver? Seaver leads the Mets in most pitching categories, won the NL Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young three times, and was a perennial All-Star. You name it, he did it, (well, with the exception of throwing a no-hitter in a Mets uniform, unfortunately. That distinction belongs to Johan Santana).
Seaver is the Mets' lone Hall of Famer with a Mets logo on his cap, and although that might change soon, he is definitely the face of the New York Mets.
Left-Handed Starter: Jerry Koosman
My Choice: Koosman
Other nominees: Jon Matlack, Sid Fernandez, Al Leiter
If Tom Seaver was the hero of a five-man Mets band, then Jerry Koosman would be his lancer, or second-in-command.
Koosman was part of that one-two punch that the Mets had in the late 1960's to mid-1970's. He also pitched and won the fifth game of the 1969 World Series. Koosman deserves more recognition than he already has for being the best left-handed starter on the Mets, and unfortunately, he'll always live in the shadow of Tom Seaver.
As for Matlack, Fernandez, and Leiter, they all had their runs of success, but none of them had the greatness that Koosman had.
Right-Handed Reliever: Roger McDowell
My Choice: McDowell
Other nominees: Skip Lockwood, Neil Allen, Armando Benitez
My reaction: McDowell practically ran away with that category, as he was the closer on the 1986 World Series Championship and also won 14 games that year.
McDowell represented the lighter side of the Mets as well. He was known for his pranks and his role in Seinfeld as the second spitter. McDowell was a workhorse, and most deservedly merits this honor.
Left-Handed Reliever: Tug McGraw
My Choice: Tug McGraw
Other nominees: Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers, John Franco
My Reaction: McGraw was not only a great pitcher, he was the originator of the Mets' first ever rally cry, Ya Gotta Believe. In addition, he was both a World and NL champion, and had the closer position existed during his time as a Met, he probably would have been one of the Mets' best.
Although he insulted the city of New York with his comments about New York sticking it after the 1980 World Series, he was still very loyal to the Mets and made as many trips as he could to Shea Stadium.
McGraw was unable to receive the honor personally, as he died of a brain tumor eight years ago. His brother and his other son received it in his honor, a very touching gesture indeed.
Manager: Davey Johnson
My Choice: Gil Hodges
Other nominees: Casey Stengel, Bobby Valentine
My Reaction: In terms of success, this is a good choice. Johnson was definitely the best manager in the Mets' history in terms of wins and had the right combination of already developed players and acquired talent to make it far.
However, people forget about Gil Hodges. Here's a guy who took a team that was so accustomed to losing and made it into a team of winners in just two years. It took Davey Johnson three years to do the same. Hodges also was a great strategist and had the benefit of two of the best pitchers in baseball leading a top notch rotation.
Gil Hodges' Mets won the championship in 1969. In 1970 and 1971, they weren't as great. In 1972, Gil Hodges died of a heart attack while golfing with his coaches.
One can only wonder what would have happened if Gil was still alive. Would the 1973 Mets have won more games or maybe even won the 1973 World Series? Would the years of misses have become years of success and the years of misery become years of near misses? Unfortunately, we will never know.