Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's Time To Retire Number 31

Now playing in their 50th season, the New York Mets have won only 2 World Series tittles. When a team does not win constantly, it is tough for individual players to stand out and make a mark on a particular franchise. In fact, as you are all aware, the Mets only have 1 player in their 50 year history in the Baseball Hall of Fame (Tom Seaver if you didn't know!). When you go to Citi Field and look out to the left field wall, you will see 4 uniform numbers that have been retired by the Mets Franchise: 14 - Gil Hodges, 37 - Casey Stengel, 41 - Tom Seaver, 42 - Jackie Robinson. Only 1 of these players actually made an impact between the white lines at Shea Stadium. Isn't it time to retire another player's number?

I understand that the Mets do not have the historic names, such as Berra, Mantle, Ruth, and Marris, but they have certainly had several players who deserve to be on that LF wall. The 1986 Mets alone had 4 players who made a significant enough impact on the organization to have their numbers retired (Carter, Hernandez, Gooden, Strawberry). However, if you want to keep that special wall so sacred to players who earn a nickname such as "The Franchise", then their is only one other player who deserves to be their, and that is Mike Piazza.

Like Seaver, Piazza changed the face of a franchise that was in complete disarray. The Mets had zero playoff appearances between the years of 1989-1998, a span of 10 years. However, once Piazza arrived in New York in May of 1998, the team who has always played second fiddle to their crosstown rivals finally became relevant again. Piazza rejuvenated a fan base that was struggling to exist by just putting on the uniform. After struggling when he first arrived, many fans tried to boo the soon to be free-agent out of town. However, Piazza wanted to be in New York because he knew that he could take this franchise to a place it hadn't been since 1988. The playoffs. After signing a monstrous contract after the 1998 season(7 yr-$91M), Piazza did just that. The Mets made the playoffs in 1999 for the first time since the 1988 season, and advanced all the way to the NLCS where they were eventually defeated by the Braves in an epic series. Then the following year, Piazza lead the Mets to the World Series for the first time since the WS title winning team of 1986. Piazza's popularity in New York grew to lengths that only one other player in the clubs history had ever before. That man's name is Tom Seaver, THE FRANCHISE. It was fitting that the two most beloved players in Mets history were the last 2 players to step foot on the green grass at Shea Stadium. It's time for this franchise to pay homage to one of the most influential players in Mets history. Retire number 31!