I’ve only been back from vacation for a week and I’m still trying to get oriented in the bizarre Mets atmosphere I find myself. I am going to take a couple more days to think about what I want to say about it. In the meantime, Mike Silva had me on his New York Baseball Talk show on Tuesday to get my take on a new book by Rusty Staub and Phil Pepe called Few and Chosen: Defining Mets Greatness Across the Ages, in which Rusty, with Phil’s help, picks the five best Mets at each position (in order of the distinction and importance of their Mets career, only their Mets career). This is one of these franchise books. Phil started the series with the Few and Chosen Yankees, written with Whitey Ford, and he’s already done a whole bunch of major league teams. Anyway, Mike talked to Phil for the first half hour of his show about Rusty’s picks and then he talked to me in the second half hour to get a fan’s perspective. I think that there are some interesting differences in our picks. In any event, here are Rusty’s picks and my picks for the best five Mets at each position. Obviously it is difficult to compare some guy who was on the team for just a few seasons with some guy who was on the team longer, but both Rusty and I have done our best to take this issue into account. You can listen to the radio program here.
Catcher This is the only category in which our picks, in order, are exactly the same. We both choose: Piazza, Carter, Grote, Hundley, Stearns.
First Base Rusty: Hernandez, Kranepool, Kingman, Olerud, Milner-Delgado (tie); Me: Hernandez, Olerud, Delgado, Clendenon, Kranepool
Second Base Rusty: Kent, Jeffries, Millan, Backman, Teufel; Me: Alfonzo, Hunt, Backman, Kent, Millan
Shortstop Rusty: Harrelson, Reyes, Ordonez, Elster, Santana; Me: Reyes, Harrelson, Ordonez, Santana, Elster
Third Base Rusty: Wright, Johnson, Alfonzo, Brooks, Garrett; Me: Wright, Johnson, Ventura, Brooks, Garrett
Left Field Rusty: Jones, McReynolds, Floyd, Foster, Gilkey; Me: Jones, McReynolds, Floyd, Gilkey, Henderson
Centerfield Rusty: Beltran, Wilson, Mazzilli, Agee, Dykstra; Me: Beltran, Agee, Wilson, Dykstra, Mazzilli
Right Field Rusty: Strawberry, Bonilla, Swoboda, Shamsky, Youngblood (Rusty felt that he couldn’t choose himself); Me: Strawberry, Staub, Shamsky, Youngblood, Swoboda
Right-Handed Starting Pitcher Rusty: Seaver, Gooden, Darling, Cone, Jones; Me: Seaver, Gooden, Darling, Cone, Saberhagen
Left-Handed Starting Pitcher Rusty: Koosman, Leiter, Matlack, Fernandez, Ojeda; Me: Koosman, Matlack, Fernandez, Leiter, Ojeda (Note: Since Rusty did his rankings at the end of the 2008 season, he felt that he couldn’t include Santana, who had only pitched one season for the Mets. I therefore left him off my list as well.)
Reliever Rusty: Franco, McGraw, Orosco, Wagner, McDowell; Me: Orosco, McGraw, Franco, McDowell, Lockwood
Manager Rusty: Hodges, Valentine, Johnson, Stengel, Randolph; Me: Hodges, Johnson, Valentine, Manuel, Randolph
So there we have it, a player and a fan defining Mets greatness across the ages. Sigh. Any thoughts?