Joe Maddon and Mike Piazza
I still remember where I was (northbound on Route 287 just past Somerville, NJ) when I heard on WFAN that the Mets had acquired Mike Piazza. Three days later, I was at Shea Stadium for his Mets debut. The moment he stepped on the field wearing a Mets uniform, the team was transformed into a contender. It was the start of a rare period of sustained success for our otherwise mainly downtrodden heroes.
The Mets moved boldly when Piazza became available, acquiring him despite the presence of Todd Hundley, who had been one of the few bright spots on the team in the mid-1990s. Hundley after all, had broken the record for most home runs hit by a catcher and was both a homegrown hero and a very quotable media darling.
For Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpons, this is their Piazza moment. Joe Maddon is available. Maddon is widely regarded as one of the best managers in the game and in every aspect, except one, is the perfect fit for the team. Unfortunately for the penny pinching Mets, his rumored contractural demands will put him beyond their reach. Rather than admit that, they will hide behind the “we are very satisfied with Terry Collins” line. Now, I get the fact that Terry, like Hundley before him, did a lot for the team under trying circumstances. But had the Mets stuck with Hundley over Piazza, there is no back to back playoff appearances, no walk off series clincher against the D-backs, no Grand Slam Single and no 2000 NLCS win.
If the 2015 Mets stumble out of the gate the Collins watch will be on anyway. A Maddon hiring avoids that for them. Like they did in 1998, they need to thank Terry for his contributions and move him aside for one of the premier talents at the position. But apparently, it isn’t about winning.
If you, like me, are watching the World Series wondering how far away the Mets are from this stage, you might be getting your answer.