The Mets, unlike their neighbors across the Whitestone Bridge, have been remiss in celebrating their past glory. Finally, there is an awakening…
The Mets may not have a legacy that reminds of the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and of late, the Boston Red Sox. But indeed, the New York Mets have a history that is held dear by their fans, if not by the organization itself.
Whether by neglect or lack of imagination, the Mets, historically, have seldom put on a display of the wealth of talent that has poured through their clubhouse. However, enter Brodie Van Wagenen, a man seemingly with a headful of ideas that goes beyond filling spots on the roster, and suddenly we are witness to a revival of the Mets legacy, complete with an all-out extravaganza to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the first Mets World Championship in 1969.
On the final weekend of June, with the Atlanta Braves coming to town, the Mets will pay homage to the first World Series championship team in franchise history. Details on the events are forthcoming.
The revival goes further than that, though. Van Wagenen has added to his staff both Al Leiter and John Franco, who will serve as advisors to Van Wagenen. But more significantly, they’ll have a role in communicating, one-on-one, with players in the Mets minor league system, with an accent on preparing the Mets of the future with what it takes to play in the spotlight of New York City.
While John Franco, who lives a free-throw from Citi Field, has always maintained a close relationship with the Mets, while others like Leiter have found their way back after sojourning into another baseball-related job. In Leiter’s case, he was a widely respected commentator for Yankee games on their YES Network. Others, like Tom Seaver, was content to remain distanced while tending to his grape growing business in Northern California.
It was Joel Sherman’s story in today’s New York Post, in which he took a round-about way to argue the Mets have no choice but to extend Jacob deGrom, that prompted what you are reading. And that’s because deGrom is the perfect example of the legacy of the Mets that is yet to be written. Lest that legacy is written at Dodger Stadium, or the worst of all fears, at Yankee Stadium, all because the Mets refused to ante-up.
In a decade, and then two more, Jacob deGrom will be the player from this era that Mets fans will come to see. This, in the same way, Mets fans are anticipating seeing Darryl Strawberry, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, Ed Kranepool, Art Shamsky, and yes, Bob Apodaca too.
The history teacher I am suggests that to visualize the present, we must first have an understanding and appreciation of the past. And so it is when Al Leiter and John Franco take that short ride to visit the newest Single-A New York Mets team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, there will be a connection made instantly over dinner with a few between the past, present, and future.
Brodie Van Wagenen has provided the fuel to resurrect the Mets legacy with his hiring of Leiter and Franco. But he cannot carry the weight forward, as his responsibilities will undoubtedly lie elsewhere as the season moves forward.
Perhaps, Van Wagenen’s next move could be to appoint David Wright as the ambassador for the anniversary celebration, scheduled for June. And that’s not even to mention the plans someone in the Mets organization should be making for the retirement of Wright’s #5 celebration in the near future.
What we’re finally seeing, is a good start though…