As I’ve admitted before on this blog, I wasn’t really happy when we got Tom Glavine. It seemed to me to be a classic move of the Phillips era: getting a great player for a lot of money at the end of his career to try to win something before Piazza and Leiter melted. I always admired Glavine, as an intelligent man and a great pitcher. And I had always enjoyed watching him pitch since I love to watch great control pitchers even more than I like to watch guys who have “great stuff.” But Glavine’s identity was already fixed. He was part of the great Braves rotation of the ‘90s and to put it very mildly, that’s not exactly a Mets identity.
I just didn’t see him as a Met. And I continued to have trouble seeing him as a Met for the first three seasons. I couldn’t shake my sense that he would always be the guy who came after Maddux and before Smolz.
Well that all changed for me in the 2006 playoffs. We desperately needed someone to be our ace, after losing Pedro and El Duque. With his paternal strength and competence, Tom Glavine stood up for us and bailed us out. He did it the way a dad does, the way an ideal grownup does. I never think of this man as being ten years younger than I am. I was way high up in the stands when he pitched that beautiful game 2 of the NLDS against the Dodgers and I was so happy and hopeful when he came back and pitched another gem in the first game of the NLCS against the Cardinals. We know that he didn’t take us all the way, but we also remember how he eased our worst fears and gave us, for a few moments, a sense that we were standing on firm ground. I thank him for that. Last October, Tom Glavine became a Met, a Met for all time. And so I’m thrilled for him that he just won his 300th game.
Even though 242 of those wins were for the Braves, and I’m sure he’ll go into the Hall of Fame as a Brave, I am happy for this man who has fought hard and usually well for my Mets. I have a premonition that he will play a decisive role in the playoffs this year, possibly pitching the last games he will ever pitch. I am in his corner, in his cheering section. I am so proud that somebody I cheer for has the honor of being only the fifth lefty in history to win 300 games, only the sixth National Leaguer. Great job, Tom. I’m so happy for you and your family, and I am so glad that you are with us now.
So I hope that no one will object if I say that no matter how happy I am for Tom, I still can’t see this titanic accomplishment as a Mets milestone. Not when this is only the 58th game he has won as a Met..
There have been some Mets seasonal milestones and game records. Tom Seaver broke Koufax’s single game strikeout record and for a while held the record for strikeouts in a season by a NL righthander. Piazza hit more home runs than any catcher in history. Gooden may have had the single best season of the post-World War II era. Reyes keeps getting all of these creative combinations. The thing is that there aren’t many Mets career milestones. This is one of the sad facts of the franchise. Look at the list of our career leaders. Ehhhh.
There is one milestone I wish we could claim. I remember that desolate day when Tom Seaver won his 300th game in a White Sox uniform. I was so happy for him, of course, but I found the ironies unbearable. There he was, the greatest Mets pitcher ever, winning number 300 in New York, but not at Shea, not in our uniform. The only consolation I felt on that day came when I heard a reporter ask Seaver when he had first become aware of the big crowd at Yankee stadium. Seaver laughed and said: “When I was driving to work this morning and the traffic on the Major Deegan was backed up all the way to the George Washington Bridge.” You see, he had never left us. He still lived among us. Oh, why couldn’t the traffic have been on the Whitestone Expressway?
I’m digressing, I guess. But that’s the way I feel. Glavine and Seaver are giants of the game. Their achievements belong to the game and to all baseball fans. Good for the Cubs fans who stood and cheered him. I would have done the same for one of theirs. But I am still puzzled about why this franchise, over forty-five years, only gets the last few years of Hall-of-Famers, or else it loses the fullness of the achievement of the few Hall-of-Famers we’ve grown ourselves. I have this disappointment. And the hope that all of this is about to change.