Now that Steve Cohen’s purchase of the Mets has been officially approved, he is inheriting not only the baseball team but all of the other deficiencies the Wilpons have built up over the years. While it has been reported he has an eye on beefing up the analytics department, another area he can attend to that the Wilpons had neglected for years is their past.
When Citi Field was first built, there were very few touches around the stadium indicating this was the new home of the New York Mets. The Mets‘ blue was absent, the outfield wall was black, the old home run apple was in hiding, and the Mets’ Hall of Fame did not exist. They had this beautiful new ballpark that did everything but acknowledge the Mets played there. Slowly but surely, the homier touches were added, but the opening of Citi Field was emblematic of the Wilpons’ entire tenure as owners. They repeatedly failed to honor and recognize the rich history of the organization.
Recently, there was another shameful instance of this happening. The former ownership group waited far too long to honor the greatest player in franchise history. They finally commissioned a statue to be built to honor Tom Seaver, but he sadly passed away before ever seeing the statue come to fruition.
Cohen could easily come in and rebuild the fractured relationship with the past and with some of the stars whose relationship soured with the organization because of the Wilpons. It could be a fresh start for everyone, not just for those who play on the field.
One area that has been the cause of some debate has been the retirement of numbers. The Mets have been notoriously stingy in that regard, and while they don’t have to be the Yankees, there is a happy medium. David Wright is a no brainer and should be announced sooner rather than later. There is no need to drag this out and wait to see if he gets in the Hall of Fame or not. That was the Wilpons’ M.O. and serves no purpose anymore, especially when it comes to the greatest position player in franchise history.
An argument could also be made for Keith Hernandez’s beloved number 17 to join the other numbers that sit atop the promenade. He was the catalyst for the great teams of the 1980s and was an integral part of the 1986 team.
Gary Carter and Jon Matlack would also be worthy of recognition, but the arguments for Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran get thornier. Perhaps now is the time to set a standard for what will be tolerated when deciding what players to honor.
The organization did take a big step forward this year when it announced that Ron Darling, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Jon Matlack would be inducted into the Mets Hall of Fame during the season, but unfortunately the ceremonies were cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. This would have been the first induction ceremony since 2013, when Mike Piazza was inducted.
Another good sign was the Fan Fest held in January where many current, former, and future players were on hand to interact with fans. By all accounts the first Fan Fest was a runaway success, and when things are safe again hopefully it will continue and be expanded in the future.
Since Shea Stadium was one of the big things that connected the Mets to their past, it will take work to make sure their history isn’t lost to the next generation of fans. Moving Jay Horwitz to his new roles as vice president of alumni public relations and team historian in 2018 was a great first step, but the work needs to continue.
Perhaps instead of badmouthing every star who didn’t live up to some arbitrary standard, now there won’t be such a contentious relationship with the past—and fans can see beloved familiar faces return to the organization.