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Tuesday, 28 April 2020 01:55

Top 10 "What Ifs" for the Mets

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What if…what if there was baseball right now? My father used to say that “if” was the biggest word in the English language. He would say, “If…if my grandfather had wheels…he would have been a trolley car. If…if my grandmother had balls…she would have been my grandfather. If…”

Every team has their own “what ifs” that they often look back on. Well, how about these Top 10 “what ifs” for the Mets?

 What IF the Mets chose Reggie Jackson rather than Steve Chilcott in the 1966 draft?

The Mets had the first pick in the amateur player draft in 1966. There were a lot of quality star players available in that draft including the one and only Reggie Jackson, already a shining star at Arizona State University. However, the Mets made a high school catcher by the name of Steve Chilcott the answer to a trivia question. Everyone on Planet Earth knows what Reggie did. He even got himself a candy bar named after him. Chilcott never played a game in the major leagues. Can you imagine what Reggie would have done in Flushing?

What IF the Mets had not traded Amos Otis for whack job third baseman Joe Foy prior to the 1970 season?

The Mets tried to convert the five-tool Amos Otis into a third baseman. When that didn’t work, they shipped him to the Kansas City Royals for Joe Foy. Foy did not endear himself to manager Gil Hodges or his teammates, as he often played while impaired and made a fool of himself. While Amos Otis never played a game at third base and became an All Star centerfielder for the Royals and a big part of their winning teams of the 70’s and 80’s. Meanwhile, the Mets seemed like they were always looking for a solid centerfielder.

What IF the Mets hadn’t included Ken Singleton in the trade for Rusty Staub before the 1972 season?

The Mets got All Star Rusty Staub but had to include Ken Singleton in the trade with the Montreal Expos. Staub had a few productive seasons before being shipped off to Detroit, while Singleton became one of the most productive hitters in the game, first for the Expos, and then the Baltimore Orioles. It would be a long time before the Mets would have another outfielder that had the skills and production of Singleton from both sides of the plate.

What IF the Mets didn’t do the unthinkable and trade Nolan Ryan for a washed-up Jim Fregosi before the 1972 season?

What was the front office thinking when the Mets traded Nolan Ryan to the California Angels for shortstop Jim Fregosi? Fregosi was on the down side of his career, no longer close to the All Star he had been. In the meantime, like Reggie, everyone on Planet Earth knows what Nolan Ryan accomplished. Can you imagine if he had remained a Met and had teamed with Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman for all those years? And that was long before the situations that teams have today where they have to worry who they can afford to keep and who they have to let go. A really BIG “what if” for the Mets.

What IF Gil Hodges did not suddenly pass away from a heart attack just before Opening Day 1972?

Probably the biggest “what if” for the Mets happened when Gil Hodges passed away. Tom Seaver has said publicly that had Hodges not passed away, the Mets organization would have gone in a much different direction, that he was a strong enough personality to fight and fend off the sheer lunacy of M. Donald Grant. And had that been allowed to happen, perhaps the ownership would not have transferred to people like the Wilpons?

What IF Kevin Mitchell was not included in the trade for Kevin McReynolds after the 1986 championship season?

Kevin Mitchell was labeled “World” by Gary Carter because of Mitchell’s ability to play every position on the field, and play it well. The problem is that Mitchell was a problem. He didn’t exactly live a “clean” life or travel is “safe” circles. Manager Davey Johnson loved him, but GM Frank Cashen hated him and wanted him out. He did get All Star left field Kevin McReynolds to add even more power to the lineup. And while McReynolds would be hated by Mets fans for his overly quiet demeanor, Mitchell would be traded a second time to the San Francisco Giants where he would become a pure monster at the plate and an MVP, and catch a fly ball over his shoulder with his bare hand in left field.

What IF Doc Gooden led a life like Gary Carter?

Dwight Gooden was special…very special. What if he lived a clean life. What if he followed Gary Carter’s tutelage? What if he didn’t get in trouble with substance abuse? There is no doubt he would have been a Hall of Famer.

What IF Darryl Strawberry led a life like Gary Carter?

Might as well just say “Ditto” for Darryl Strawberry. Because Strawberry was also special…very special. What if he lived a clean life. What if he followed Gary Carter’s tutelage? What if he didn’t get in trouble with substance abuse? There is no doubt he would have been a Hall of Famer.

What if David Cone stuck to his day job of pitching rather than writing an article for a newspaper that ended up on a Los Angeles Dodgers’ locker room wall in 1988?

David Cone was unbelievably great in his first year as a Met in 1988. However, he was not exactly low key in the press and began writing some pieces for the newspapers. Unfortunately, his pieces became locker room fodder for the Dodgers and the Mets ended up losing a heart-wrenching playoff series to the Los Angeles Dodgers when they were heavily favored with a team that was probably more talented than the ’86 World Championship team. Maybe if Cone never wrote those stories, perhaps Kirk Gibson wouldn’t have been so inspired?

What IF it was Nelson Doubleday who still had majority ownership rather than the Wilpons?

Nelson Doubleday had an entirely different approach to handling matters and people than Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff. What if Doubleday bought out the Wilpons rather than the Wilpons buying out Doubleday? Now THAT would have changed things a bit, huh?

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