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Remember when you were a little kid and you would brag to your friends and claim that your father was better than someone else’s father? “My dad’s better than yours…” Can you imagine the talk, the banter, the jabs going on in the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse and in the infield during meetings at the mound?
Starting behind Steven Matz, returning for the first time as an ex-Met to Citifield, was Vlad Guerrero, Jr. (son of Vlad Guerrero) at first base, Bo Bichette (son of Dante Bichette) at shortstop, and Cavan Biggio (son of Craig Biggio) at third base. Sandwiched in between them was poor Marcus Semien at second base. What could he possibly add to the conversation with those three?
The three dads were pretty damn good ballplayers, all of them with great career numbers, two of them – Guerrero and Biggio – in the Hall of Fame.
Sometimes it all comes together. You have a favorite player wearing your favorite number on their uniform jersey. I have loved, absolutely loved, Francisco Lindor since he began his career with the Cleveland Indians. And for the longest time I truly believed he would be yet another one of those opposing players who I would watch and root for, and dream of him playing for the Mets someday. So when the Mets pulled the trigger and brought Lindor to Queens, it was certainly gratifying. And to have him wearing my favorite number on top of that…well…no fan could be happier.
I actually came to love the No. 12, believe it or not, because I really liked the way it looked in the full block style on the old Mets road uniforms when I saw Ken Boswell wearing it. Boswell was not my favorite player, but he was one of my favorites. It bothered me to see it assigned to a guy like Jack Heidemann (I know, who is he?) when he came to the Mets. And I got excited when Lee Mazzilli came up and wore it his first year, and then was disappointed when he swapped numbers with John Stearns and took the No. 16. Some very obscure players wore my No. 12 over the years, although there were some really good players like Tommy Davis, Stearns, Ron Darling, Willie Randolph and Roberto Alomar. Even Cleon Jones, who will forever be associated with No. 21, wore it, after first wearing the No. 34, believe it or not.
So I decided to take a look at the top player at each position who wore No. 12 during his Mets career:
Most Mets fans remember that General Manager Sandy Alderson stunned the fanbase when he traded away Cy Young Award Winner R.J. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays for a young catcher named Travis d’Arnaud. Included in that deal was a flamethrower named Noah Syndergaard. D’Arnaud would never live up to expectations, but Syndergaard, turned out to be the gem in the deal, regardless that he is out due to Tommy John surgery.
Some years earlier, another GM, Gerry Hunsicker, in an attempt to rebuild, surprised many when he traded away ace David Cone to get a couple of young prospects, infielder Jeff Kent and outfielder Ryan Thompson. Kent arrived first and immediately was slotted into the lineup at third base, and Thompson came some weeks later, and was thought to be the five-tool superstar that the Mets coveted to play centerfield. Thompson was one of a number of those “five-tool hopefuls” the Mets would acquire like Alex Ochoa and Steve Henderson who would never live up to those expectations.