This past Tuesday and Wednesday brought frustration and anger to Mets fans. On Tuesday, fans thought it would be the day that Mike Piazza got in; instead it was just Pedro Martinez who spent his four out of the last five seasons of his career pitching in Queens. Martinez was a sure first-ballot hall of famer, which was no problem, until he offended Mets fans at the Hall of Fame press conference at the Waldorf-Astoria. He stated “Mets fans “settle for what they have,” but “Yankees fans cannot” settle, according to Anthony DiComo, the Mets best writer of MLB.com. Mets fans are refusing to settle though — for Piazza not being in the Hall of Fame, and the team continuing to sit back and watch this offseason pass by.

 

The Case for Piazza

It is a known consensus that Mike Piazza is the greatest hitting catcher of all-time. However, Major League Baseball Hall of Famer voters for the second straight year refused to vote for Piazza because he is “tainted.” By tainted I mean that at one point he had back acne and Murray Chass claims that it is because he took performance enhancing drugs, which there is no actual evidence of. Maybe Mr. Chass can’t remember when he was in his 20’s and 30’s but he might have had some back acne himself, I’m in my 20’s and I do. And I never have taken performance enhancing drugs. But that is beside the point. Back to the case for Piazza for the Hall of Fame.

Using Baseball Reference’s Play Index, I did some research looking at players who have played at least 80% of their games behind the plate (that way I keep those who truly were catchers for most of their careers except the ends such as Piazza and Bench), and with over 1,000 career games. From this it is clear that Piazza is a leader in OPS (at .922), fourth in OBP (at .377). However, all those above him played in the Segregation era, and of course he is the top in slugging percentage at .545. His career WAR is 59.4, 5th best for catchers (however he is the best at 65.9 offensive WAR). Unfortunately, he is the 4th worst catcher in terms of defensive WAR, but he must be applauded for being able to handle the position for so long and still put up the impressive numbers he did. There will never be a catcher who comes close to the success that Piazza had as a hitter. With Mauer already having moved to first base and Buster Posey splitting time between catcher and first base, Piazza will be the greatest hitter at the position for the foreseeable future.

I believe though that it is safe to assume that the Baseball Writers Association of America will get its act together and put Piazza where he belongs, in Cooperstown. It will be shameful if writers such as Chass continue to use the era of players despite lack of evidence against Piazza, Bagwell and others. But once Piazza does get in, expect the flood gates to open as all of those players linked to PEDs, such as Bonds and Clemens, will get in according to Ken Rosenthal and Buster Olney at a PitchTalks event in NYC on January 14th.

 

Mets fans have something “to settle” with Pedro Martinez

On Wednesday at his press conference, Martinez released the statement “In Queens, they’re wild. They’re happy. They settle for what they have.” This statement sent anger and passion through the hearts of Mets fans, as he took a stab at the fans of a team he played for, for four years. To respond, Mets fans took to Twitter and their wallets to invest in a project called “#FreeMetsFans Sell the Team! Billboard”.

A little background on the Kickstarter.com project itself. Started back in December, Mets fan Gary Palumbo was frustrated with the direction of the ownership because “their poor decisions have placed the team into a position where they no longer invest in a manner of placing the team in contention for the playoffs.” Therefore he took it upon himself to follow the way of New York Jets fans who wanted their General Manager fired and put up a billboard. His goal was to raise $5000 in a month to get two billboards placed within walking distance of the stadium to voice the disdain of fellow Mets fans towards ownership.

The project was doing well, but funding was at a standstill with only $30 raised Monday and Tuesday of this past week, and needed $1360 to complete funding in only eight days. But then Wednesday morning the magic happened. To quote the Mr. Palumbo who was polite enough to answer my questions via Kickstarter:

“The blog and community at metsmerizedonline.com ran a piece about fan apathy to get the conversation about the boards going again. My message since day one was about stopping the apathy. So when the Pedro message hit about Mets fans settling it resonated and added gas to that fire. ”

He continued on saying that Metsblog.com blogger Matthew Cerrone (a blog which is run by SNY, which is owned by the Mets) then released an article stating that he believed the Mets made enough moves to “squeak” into the playoffs. The last things fans want to hear, is that the team does just enough to make the playoffs. As Palumbo put it, it was the “perfect storm” to get the funding for the billboard complete. And so within three short hours on Wednesday night, the billboard received $1400 in donations and is now set to go up March 30th, in time for opening day.

Nothing will probably come as a result of the billboard going up. However, what it did was bring together a community of fans that continue to bleed orange and blue through and through.

 

Thank you to Mr. Palumbo for taking his time to respond to my questions. For more information on the #FreeMetsFans Billboard project, please visit the Kickstarter page here.

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