Feb 28

Today In Mets History: Dave Kingman Signed

On this day in Mets’ history in 1975, the contract of outfielder and first baseman Dave Kingman was purchased from the San Francisco Giants. The 6-foot-6 Kingman, nicknamed Kong for his prodigious strength and power, was to give the Mets the fearsome hitter they had never had this early in their existence.

“He was going to make us a winner,’’ said Joe, a life-long Mets’ fan. “He had such awesome power. We had never had a guy like that before.’’

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

KINGMAN: Hit 154 homers at a Met.

During his 17-year career, Kingman played six seasons with the Mets, more than any other team. He gave the Mets the power they wanted with 154 home runs. However, the all-or-nothing Kingman also hit .219 with a .287 on-base percentage, and with only 389 RBI and just 211 walks in comparison to 672 strikeouts. He had more strikeouts than hits (509) with the Mets.

In addition to the San Francisco and the Mets, Kingman played for Oakland, the Cubs, San Diego, the Angels and Yankees. Kingman had two stints with the Mets (1975-77 and 1981-83).

Kingman also struck out a lot in his interactions with fans and the media. Of all the things Kingman is known for, perhaps most disturbing was sending a live rat to Susan Fornoff, a female reporter covering the Athletics.

Kingman hit 30 or more homers seven times, including 48 in 1979 with the Cubs and 37 in 1982 with the Mets, when he lead the National League in homers.

Kingman also struck out 1,816 times – an average of 152 times a season – and in 14 years struck out at least 100 times, and eight times fanned at least 125 times. Only once, in 1985, did he draw as many as 60 walks.

History is filled with numerous all-or-nothing sluggers like Kingman, such as Adam Dunn, Greg Vaughn, Frank Howard, Rob Deer, Mark Reynolds and a case can also be made to lump former Met George Foster into that group.

Kingman’s 154 homers ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list, behind Darryl Strawberry, David Wright, Mike Piazza and Howard Johnson.

Kingman finished with 442 career homers and speaking at the closing of Shea Stadium, said if he played longer: “I’m sure I could have hit 500 (home runs). That’s all right. I’m very happy with (my career). I enjoyed my time in the big leagues.’’

Prior to the steroid era, 500 homers used to be an automatic ticket into the Hall of Fame, along with 300 pitching victories and 3,000 hits. Had Kingman played two more years and reached that milestone he would have been an interesting test case.

As a Hall of Fame voter, I wouldn’t give him my vote because his numbers other than homers were terribly weak and non-deserving.

ON DECK:  Mets Matters: Today’s news and notes.

Jan 24

Missing Ernie Banks

This one hurts. Ernie Banks, “Mr. Cub,’’ passed away last night at 83.

Unquestionably, one of the highlights about covering baseball was meeting the game’s greats from when I first started following the sport. Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Al Kaline, Tom Seaver and, of course, Banks.

Mets’ fans, of course, should remember Banks from the 1969 season when he was one of the few likable members of the Cubs. Some might actually have felt sympathy for Banks as he missed the playoffs for yet, another year.

Banks was the longtime face and persona of the Cubs. He was a Wrigley Field fixture who was a pleasant and kind visitor to opposing dugouts. Players loved to shake his hand and listen to his stories.

And, Banks loved to hold court, whether for a group or an individual. If you had a question, or just wanted to say hello, he would greet you and make one feel welcomed.

We’re in an age where too many of today’s athletes prefer to distance themselves from the public that adores them. That was never Banks. People liked him because he genuinely liked people.

The baseball world is a little poorer today without him.

Nov 08

Maddon To Mets Had No Chance

MADDON: Wouldn't have become a Met.

MADDON: Wouldn’t have become a Met.

There are a lot of crazy things floating around this time of year. I heard this today and it made me laugh because there’s no chance it could have happened.

One report said the Mets could have gotten Joe Maddon as their manager after his decision to bolt the Tampa Bay Rays.

Maddon is a tremendous managerial talent, one of the best, and he would look great in the Mets dugout, but several variables combined to make that impossible.

First, they already have a manager in Terry Collins. Now, managers and coaches have been fired before while under contract, but the Mets hate the idea of paying a manager’s salary to two people at the same time.

More importantly, even had Maddon been available to them, as they wouldn’t have acted as quickly, or decisively, as the Cubs. Reportedly, Maddon was given a five-year, $25 million package, which would have been well out of their price range.

Maddon left the Rays because of their austerity program, evidenced by the departures of James Shields – who’ll likely leave Kansas City – and David Price. The Cubs’ payroll last year was $92 million, which isn’t in the stratosphere, but far more than the Rays’ $76 million.

The Cubs have shown a willingness to pursue free agents, something neither the Rays nor Mets are inclined to do.

The Mets have made steady progress over the past few years, and Collins deserves some credit. The expectations are high with the return of Matt Harvey, bounce-back seasons from David Wright and Curtis Granderson, and the continued development of Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom.

Given that, do they really want to start over with a new regime?

Maddon as a Met is a fun idea, but there are a lot of fun ideas this time of year. But, this one had no chance.

Mar 17

Game Recap: Cubs 6, Mets 3

MEJIA: Where to put him?

The Mets were defeated by the Chicago Cubs by the score of 6-3 on Sunday on Las Vegas to earn a split of their two game series.

Highlights:

Jenrry Mejia struggled in his second Grapefruit League start and allowed three runs (two earned) in 2.1 innings of work. The young right-hander allowed four hits, including a home run, and walked two while striking out one.

Rafael Montero relieved Mejia and tossed 2.2 innings, also allowing two earned runs on four hits including a home run. He walked one and struck out one.

Carlos Torres had another great outing, allowing a solo homerun in three innings of work and striking out five.

Vying for a utility outfield spot, Andrew Brown hit a two-run homer, while Zach Lutz had two hits including a solo home run.

Travis d’Arnaud was hitless again in three plate appearances and his batting average now stands at .143 in 28 at-bats.

Up Next:

The Mets take on the Miami Marlins on Monday at 1:05 PM in Jupiter, with John Lannan opposing Henderson Alvarez. The game will be broadcast on WOR 710 AM.

Oct 23

Bloomberg: Mets Valued At $2.1 Billion

Nobody in Major League Baseball, much less commissioner Bud Selig, can be happy about this news. According to “The Daily Ticker,’’ an Internet website that focuses on financial issues, Bloomberg Billionaires is reporting ten teams are worth more than $1 billion, including your New York Mets, who are tied for second with the Dodgers and Red Sox at $2.1 billion.

The Yankees, not surprisingly, are first at $3.1 billion.

imgresThe report was announced as Game 1 of the World Series approached, which has to make MLB executives steaming because their stance has been to always cry poverty. The numbers are 35 percent higher than the annual Forbes figures, which MLB never confirms nor deny. Matt Miller, editor of Bloomberg, said the Dodgers’ sale changed the landscape of how franchises are valued.

“ … You have to value all of the assets when it comes to the teams, you can’t just do revenue from ticket sales, concessions and stadium-type deals and merchandising,’’ Miller said. “Really the driver of this is regional sports networks.’’

That brings us to the Yankees’ YES Network and the Mets’ SNY, whose ratings were down by a reported 31.6 percent. However, it is more about than just the number of people who tune in to watch Gary, Keith and Ron. What the Bloomberg report did not reveal was the formula in which a franchise is valued. It is also hard to come up with a number because the news outlet does not have access to the Mets’ books.

Also reportedly worth over a billion are the Cubs ($1.3 billion), Giants ($1.2 billion), Orioles ($1.1 billion), Angels ($1.1 billion), Philadelphia ($1 billion) and Rangers ($1 billion). With the exception of the Red Sox and Cubs, all play in new stadiums. The Angels play in a refurbished stadium, plus in weather-friendly Southern California.

We’re talking about real estate.

The Dodgers’ sale includes the vast acreage for parking outside the stadium, which is what part of the original attraction was for owner Walter O’Malley when he moved the franchise from Brooklyn.

The Yankees’ value, in addition to YES and the new stadium, is the brand, which includes 27 World Series titles and a relationship with Manchester United, arguably one of the world’s most popular soccer teams. The Yankees also have a marketing relationship with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the Mets have SNY, Citi Field and the land surrounding the park. There are plans to rid the area of the auto repair shops across the street and replace them with hotels, restaurants and a shopping center. While those plans are on an architects’ drawing pad, they exist and presumably there is value in that, in addition to the proximity of a major subway stop, highway and LaGuardia Airport. When you are listed as an attraction, being close to transportation outlets enhances your value.

The first question is undoubtedly, if they are worth that much, then why don’t they spend more money? It is a logical question, but it must be noted the worth is not simply liquid, and there are different sectors other than the baseball operations where the Mets can’t dip into for player acquisition. It also must be remembered there’s the intangible value of being a professional sports franchise in New York City.