It's August 14th. The Mets are in first after the Phillies loss and the Mets crushing 12-0 victory over the Nationals last night. Most of the bullpen got a night off. All in all, a good day.
I almost felt bad for the Nats during our 8-run third inning. Bergmann was left out there to die by Acta, who didn't even bother warming anyone up. And is Murphy really this good? Three for six, with 3 RBI's?
But the Mets could still use a little catching help. And that's where Piazza comes in.
A few weeks ago, Greg at Faith and Fear wrote about bringing back former Mets for the end of Shea, even to play in the last game. He also floated one compelling and realistic option.
The rumor is that at least one former Met will be at Shea Stadium (although probably not in uniform). Newsday reported that Mike Piazza will be at Shea Stadium's final weekend
. Newsday also had some insights into why others (ex: Doc Gooden) won't be there:Before the Mets tear down Shea Stadium later this year, their plan is
to honor their home of the past 44 years with a special ceremony during
the final weekend of the regular season. The organization has stayed
tight-lipped about the details, but Newsday has learned perhaps the
most important detail of the ceremony.
Mike Piazza will be present.
As recently as last week a spokesman for Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano,
said his plans were not firmed up yet. Though the Mets will not divulge
which former players will be at Shea until sometime next month, team
officials behind the scenes are completely confident Piazza will be
there to close Shea Stadium.
"The invitation went out and he accepted," one person familiar with the situation said. "He'll be there."
Piazza's presence is of the utmost importance because with the Mets
it's not about celebrating the building, which seemingly was outdated
before it even opened in 1964. Honoring Shea Stadium, rather, is a
chance for Mets fans to remember their championship years -- 1969 and
1986 -- and their great players.
Tom Seaver was the franchise's first superstar. He's the only Hall
of Famer with a Mets cap. And he was the face of the '69 Miracle Mets.
But you could easily make the case Piazza is a bigger name and a better
draw with today's generation of Mets fans. Perhaps he is even more
synonymous with Shea right now.
Part of the problem with today's Mets fans is that the down years of
the late '70s combined with the downfall of Dwight Gooden and Darryl
Strawberry from the '80s left a generation of Mets fans without their
own superstar. Even when the Yankees were bad in the '80s, they still
had Don Mattingly.
With the Mets, it's almost as if fans went from Seaver to Piazza
without a superstar in between that they could call their own. Of
course Gooden and Strawberry were as good as they get in their heydey,
and they sure had a chance to be considered lifetime Mets. But both of
their careers took wicked turns, thanks largely to drugs and alcohol,
and their playing days with the Mets ended on bad notes.
Strawberry has reunited with the organization in recent years, but his
relationship with Mets fans will never come close to what it could have
- or should have - been. Gooden, meanwhile, for some reason still has a
bad taste about the way his Mets days ended. He told me last month he
has no desire to return to Shea. When I asked about returning one last
time, he winced as if the mere thought pained him.
When Piazza arrived in May 1998, he was already a superstar - and he
lived up to the billing. He helped bring consistent excitement and
winning baseball teams back to Flushing, taking the Mets to the
playoffs in 1999 and the World Series in 2000. Simply put, he was the
best offensive player the Mets ever had.
And then who could forget his role in the first baseball game in New
York after 9/11. The home run he hit to lift the Mets over the Braves
that night seemed almost too good to even be scripted, and the image of
him taking a curtain call with a somewhat solemn look on his face
remains a moving moment.
Piazza's time with the Mets included its share of bozo moments, most
notably the way bumbling Art Howe handled the whole
switch-to-first-base disaster. And, no, Piazza didn't bring a
But ask anybody who goes to Shea Stadium these days which former Met
they would like to see most walk onto the field last before the final
regular-season game at Shea, and I bet you it wouldn't even be close.
Good thing the Mets expect Piazza to be there.