Syndergaard Wins in Return to the Mound; Now Mets Need to Ship Him Out of Town
For weeks, New York sports media gang members have been pushing the Mets to dump their best player, Jacob de Grom in a deadline trade.
It makes perfect sense, right? After all, de Grom is not only their best player, but their best pitcher. I guess starting pitching isn’t important.
Since the Mets have de Grom under contract for almost 2.5 seasons (through 2020); he’s presently the best starter in the National League, if not all of baseball; he’s smart and a gamer; and he’s irreplaceable; only someone suffering from profound mental retardation, or who is a Yankees, Braves, or Phillies fan would want the Mets to deal de Grom.
The last time the Mets had a starting pitcher as good as de Grom, his name was Dwight “Doc” Gooden. Gooden destroyed himself with drugs.
It was the stuff of high tragedy. Seaver was locked in a war of wills with hated Mets Chairman M. Donald Grant. The men hated each other, and Seaver made it a public matter.
The problem was that that was like fighting City Hall, a battle players never won in those days.
Seaver eventually demanded a trade, and Grant was glad to oblige him. Some observers have insinuated that Grant provoked Seaver’s trade demand by planting a story via Daily News sportswriter Dick Young, asserting that Seaver’s wife, Nancy, was greedy, and was behind Seaver’s beef with Grant.
At the time, the Seavers had been married for 11 years. They’ve had their problems over the years, including at least one trial separation, but have now been married for 52 years.
That union is bound by stronger glue than greed.
Grant’s trade of Seaver to the Reds signaled seven years of misery for Mets fans. The misery wouldn’t end until 1984, with the development of consecutive Rookies of the Year Darryl Strawberry (1983) and Gooden (1984), and acquisitions of Keith “Mex” Hernandez (1983), the greatest first baseman I’ve ever seen, and the late, lamented, Hall of Fame catcher, Gary “Kid” Carter (1984).
(Thankfully, I missed all the bad years. I was in college the whole time, first in America from September, 1976-through July, 1980, without a TV, and then in West Germany from August 1, 1980 until August 26, 1985.)
The Mets eventually got Seaver back, but let him get away again, on waivers.
In 1987, the club tried to get Seaver, by then a 20-year veteran, to come back home to end his career, but he had a bum knee and couldn’t pitch anymore. However, in one of the classiest gestures in baseball history, Seaver came back to Shea Stadium, the setting of so many of his career highlights, to bid the fans adieu. Dressed in a business suit, the 311-game winner stood on the pitching mound, and bowed to the fans behind home plate. And then made a slight turn, to bow to other seating sections. And turned and bowed, and turned and bowed… until he had bowed to every fan in the joint.
In this era of free agency, it is doubtful that the Mets will get the chance to screw up the way they did—not once but twice—with Tom Seaver, but Jake de Grom is the closest they’ll ever get to Seaver’s magic.
We used to call Seaver “The Franchise.” You don’t trade away a guy like that, you build a team around him.
When Seaver was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1992, it was with a record 98.8% of the votes. It wasn’t until 2016 that Junior Griffey broke Seaver’s record, with 99.3% of the Hall of Fame vote.
And when the greatest pitchers of Seaver’s era, the era of the pitcher—Bob Gibson, Fergie Jenkins, Jim Palmer, Juan Marichal, Catfish Hunter, et al.—
voted on who the greatest pitcher of all time was, they chose him.
However, the Mets do have a “superstar” whom they can and should trade. His name is Noah Syndergaard, and he is a sure Hall of Famer—just ask him.
Syndergaard can throw the ball 100 mph, has a great slider, and can hit it out of the park, but he’s injury prone and, as The Boss would say, dumb as my big toe.
Last season, club doctors believed Syndergaard had an injury, and advised him to get an MRI. He refused, tried to pitch, aggravated the injury, and missed the rest of the season. He pitched in only seven games that year, instead of, say, 32.
The Baseball Players’ Union’s contract has a clause permitting players to refuse to get MRIs. The Genius Clause.
Syndergaard also missed several starts this season hurt.
The Mets could get a lot for Syndergaard, while losing little.
Otherwise, they are looking to move closer Jeurys Familia, and second baseman Asrubal Cabrera, both of whom will be free agents at season’s close.
The only players who are fixtures for the future are shortstop Amed Rosario, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, de Grom, and starting pitcher Zach Wheeler.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.