Each of us has his or her own personal history with the Mets. First memory of the team...first game watched on TV...first game seen in person...first souvenir (mine were those flimsy plastic "batting helmets", which I never noticed until too late came with a warning not to use them in the course of an actual baseball game)...first brush with greatness, meeting an actual player...highest high...lowest low. Some of these histories go back to the Polo Grounds days; that would include those of us who know what the Continental League was. Other histories are as recent as last October. If this is you, then welcome to the club, rookie. For those of you who might be blog-trolling and are fans of some other team, the same is true for you.
Whether you've been a Mets fan for four months or forty-four years, though, there's no denying that each of us has a favorite Met. In my mind, I often parse this question into several segments: favorite Mets player of all time, favorite Mets player on the current roster, favorite living Met, favorite deceased Met, favorite pitcher, favorite hitter, even favorite coach. So, who's your favorite Met? More important -- WHY is he your favorite Met?
There are no wrong answers here. Heck, one of my favorite blog posters is "KingmanFan", and I really didn't appreciate Kong's skill all that much. As a general principal, any player whose weight exceeds his batting average exempts them from my "favored player" status. Dave Kingman's highest average as a Met was the .238 he slugged in 1976.
For me, it's not about being the best player. It's easy to root for a Seaver, a Carter, a Piazza, a Wright. I always seem to gravitate my affections towards the guy whose name and uni number won't be found on ten thousand backs in the seats at Shea. Kind of like how my favorite Billy Joel song never seems to be the Billboard chart-buster; it's usually the fourth cut on Side B, like "Vienna", "Zanzibar", "Sleeping With the Television On". They're my personal songs, and nobody else knows about them. Some of my favorites weren't the 25th best player on the roster, but they weren't the media darlings, either.
It's not always about personality, either. I know for a fact that there are many Mets whom I loved watching at bat or on the mound in their prime, but with whom I wouldn't enjoy tipping back an adult beverage or three today. The same is true, I'm sure, of today's club, though you wouldn't be able to tell it from the outside looking in. The '06 Mets look like a couple dozen guys who genuinely have fun playing a kid's game, and for the most part, have fun around each other.
It's unfair, too, for a chance encounter with a player to forever color your opinion of him, but that's human nature. If Bret Saberhagen was having a bad day when I got that autograph from him at some car dealer in Suffolk County in 1994, then he would forever have been a slimebag in my book. Fortunately for Bret, he wasn't, so he isn't, not to me. Every major league player lives with the pressure of being on their "A" game when it comes to social interaction every day of their career. Only those who spend every day with a guy can make a sound call as to whether he's a jerk or not. This includes fellow players, team staff, and beat writers, and excludes virtually everyone reading this blog. Most of those lucky souls aren't telling, either, at least not until the book deal comes through at the end of their career.
Since I'm 46 years old, I like rooting for athletes older than me. This restricts me to George Foreman, Morten Andersen, and Julio Franco, although El Duque probably comes close, if we can ever find his papers. I knew I was old when I bought a pack of baseball cards in 1990 and saw Steve Avery was born in the 70's. The seasoned citizens of baseball appeal to this old fart.
I also appreciate versatility. Kevin Mitchell playing six different positions in one season; Luis Aparicio playing all nine in one game; Jose Canseco pitching (okay, maybe not that one). Howard Johnson moving from short to third to the outfield and back to short because that's what the team needed. That kind of "put me in, coach" mentality that some players lack makes me like those who've got it a whole lot more.
So who's your favorite Met, right now all-time, and why? I'll tell you mine, but I want to hear from y'all first.