The good folks at MLB Extra Innings or Time Warner Cable decided not to show me the Mets Hall of Fame induction ceremony before Sunday’s game. But while Gary, Keith and Ron were talking about it during the dreadful game that followed, I could only imagine that Darling was thinking, “What about me?” Because Darling deserves to join his other 1986 teammates in official Mets lore.
The Mets have long ignored their storied history. They are now starting to correct that, so one can only hope that Sunday’s ceremony will become a yearly event. There are many players who deserve to be in the team’s Hall. But first, here are the current members:
All of these inductees are worthy, although it is quite stunning that there are nearly as many non-players (11) as players (14) who are enshrined. But unfortunately, the Mets really don’t have a history of exceptional players. But they do have more whose inductions have been long overdue.
I don’t know the exact criteria the Mets use when deciding which players to induct. I would use these three:
1) Great numbers (obviously)
2) Key member of a World Series squad
3) Fan favorite
If a player does not have #1, he should have #2 and #3 (Bud Harrelson is a perfect example of that).
Darling actually fits all three criteria. He was of course a key member of the 1986 team, and he was, and still is, beloved. But he is also fourth in team history in wins with 99, is in the top 15 of all starters with a 3.50 ERA, and sixth in strikeouts. It is a shame that he is left out while other 1986 Mets are in.
If Darling is inducted, then Sid Fernandez and Al Leiter should also be in. The three of them have startlingly similar Mets stats. And Leiter was on the 2000 World Series team.
As far as relievers, Jesse Orosco and John Franco should be inducted. Orosco, of course, was the closer in 1986, and is third in saves with 107. Franco is far and away the all-time leader in saves with 276, and was on the 2000 team.
Who is second in saves, you ask? Armando Benitez, with 160. He was the closer in 2000. But if he were to ever be inducted, Mets fans would burn down the Hall of Fame. And rightly so.
You could also make the argument for Roger McDowell. He was on the 1986 squad, was very popular, and is sixth on the Mets save list with 84 — two fewer than Tug McGraw, who is in the Hall.
As far as position players, Mike Piazza should be enshrined tomorrow. I don’t understand why the Mets wait so long to honor their players. Many teams do it the year after they retire. Piazza certainly deserves that treatment.
Howard Johnson and Edgardo Alfonzo are both among the leaders in most offensive categories. Johnson’s numbers speak for themselves. Alfonzo’s role on the 2000 Mets is severely underrated. Piazza was the big bat, obviously, but the offense really rose and fell based on Alfonzo’s performance.
And finally, I will make the argument for Willie Mays. Mays’ numbers with the Mets were not good — there’s no getting around that. But he was on the 1973 World Series team, and he’s WILLIE MAYS for God’s sake! One of the greatest players to ever step onto the field in the history of the game wore a Mets uniform, and there is no honor for him. I made this same argument about retiring his number. If the Mets don’t want to go that far, they can at least throw a plaque onto a wall for him.
Hopefully the Mets will correct these errors of omissions in the coming years. Since we currently have to watch the likes of Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, it would be nice to be able to look back and remember some players worth remembering.