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In Defense of the Hardwood Floor

Mike SteffanosWednesday, June 18, 2008
By Mike Steffanos

Dana Brand, author of the book Mets Fan, had a post on his blog today about Rick Peterson's statement as he was walking out of the hotel yesterday.

Here is Peterson's statement as transcribed by Newsday's David Lennon:

"I don't really want to answer questions. I just want to say that I came here five years ago, and Fred and Jeff [Wilpon] gave me a wonderful opportunity. I left Oakland to come here to be with my kids on the East Coast and it's been wonderful. I appreciated the opportunity and they welcomed me into their home and the home is going through renovation. Sometimes you have to make changes when things don't go that well, and I'm part of that change. I totally understand that. I grew up in the baseball business, and I'm the hardwood floor that's getting ripped out and they're going to bring in the Tuscany tile (laughter).

"And it will be great. My heart and soul is with every pitcher that I've dealt with here. They'll always be in my heart and soul. It's that kind of relationship. I'm sad for that. But I'm also happy for them. There's a lot of guys on the right track that I hope they stay on the right track. And there's a lot of guys that are off the track that I hope Dan Warthen can get them back on track.

"This is a team that's underachieved and I think it will get back on track."

At that point, Peterson pointed to a bracelet that he wears with silver symbols from Eastern philosophy.

"I wear this bracelet because I'm very in tune with Eastern philosophy and universal law. This is faith. This is compassion, equanimity, and love. And in Eastern writing, they write in symbols and the symbol for problem and crisis they also use for opportunity. I've been given a great opportunity here, and once I walk out that door, I'll seek my next opportunity. I walk out in peace and I wish everybody else here the best -- Jerry Manuel, Omar Minaya, Fred and Jeff.

"And hopefully the Tuscany tile will do a lot better than the hardwood floor. Thank you so much."

I thought it was a classy speech -- funny, intelligent, quirky and touching. Of course it became immediate fodder for certain of the "regular guys" who were called upon to comment on it yesterday to poke fun at Peterson. I thought the analogy was spot on -- the Mets felt they needed to make a change, and Peterson understood that. Chris Carlin, whom Dana identified as "the bald guy who does the "Beer Money" filler show" (good one, Dana), and others just had to take their shot at him on his way out the door. I'd submit that Peterson brought more value to Mets fans with his hard work than anything Chris Carlin ever contributed at WFAN or SNY. The same could be said for any of the other pundits that weighed in on Peterson's parting words.

It tends to be obscured, but the list of pitchers helped by Rick Peterson was varied and impressive: Ricky Bottalico, Aaron Heilman, Tom Glavine, Roberto Hernandez, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey, Darren Oliver, Jorge Julio, Pedro Feliciano and Brian Bannister were all pitchers that enjoyed some success that could reasonably be attributed to Peterson.

The professor may have had his quirks, but he also worked very hard with a wide variety of different pitchers. His tenure featured ups and downs, but he left this team's pitching in better shape than he found it. He deserves to be remembered for more than just his eccentricities and being used by some as a convenient scapegoat for the Scott Kazmir deal.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (9)

Agreed untirely. Peterson's accomplishments tend to get overlooked, but they are real. Maine and Perez were castoffs; Heilman very nearly was cast off. The Mets got good service from all of them during Peterson's tenure.

I agree. I think that the Mets are going to feel Peterson's loss more than Willie's. He had so many successes and he made one gigantic mistake. Everybody makes some mistakes. He was our best pitching coach since Rube Walker.

I hope the Jacket is Zen enough to realize that cashing a paycheck from anyone named Steinbrenner is just bad karma. He served us well, and his dismissal will be much more damaging long-term to the Mets than Willie's.

Thanks, Dana, for pushing that button two minutes ahead of me and making me look like an idea-moocher.

By the way, I had the idea for "Mets Fan" WAY before you wrote it!

I was really sad to see him go because I like Peterson a lot. Although he has his personal philosophies and style, people shouldn't make fun him for that. I believe a lot of Mets fans still blame him over the Kazmir situation. You know what, they need to get over it and stop whining about something that happened 4-5 years ago. I thought Peterson was an excellent coach who more or less got along with some pitchers.

Dennis, the trick to writing any book is getting around to it before any of the millions of people who have the same idea get around to it.

Dana - I KNEW there was some kind of trick to it! Seriously, though, you pulled that trick off expertly with the definitive Mets tome.

Gotta go - I'm off to invent a doohickey that changes the channel on my TV without having to get up...

Peterson is a bright man and I am sure the fact that people walk all over a floor did not escape him. I do believe he is a very gifted pitching coach, but I think he is better suited for a small market American league team with a younger staff. In my opinion he was not a good match for Willie. Peterson likes guys who throw from a lower arm slot and these guys tend to more specialist types against either lefties or righties. Willie, who managed like an American league manager rarely made double switches (and bench coach Manuel has to share the blame) and burned through his pen on a regular basis. His "long-man" Sosa was pitching every night before being released. I think the tired pen was a key factor in last year's collapse. And I think Peterson must at least share the blame for trading Kazmir, Bell, and Bannister.

Based on his track record I don't think Dan Warthen is the answer. I would love to see the Mets get Leo Mazzone (currently doing some TV work), but I doubt he would take the job without knowing who will be the manager next year.

I really think that the fans who wanted Peterson fired are the same ones who hate Leiter and Franco. Whether Peterson, Leiter or Franco recommended that the Mets trade Kazmir or not, it was the GM who made the stupid decision to trade Kazmir and it was the GM who got so little in return for Kazmir. Maybe Petersons dismissal is a good thing for many of these fans, since everyone who was alleged to be a reason for the Kazmir trade is gone from the organization. Now there's no-one left in the organization to hate for trading Kazmir. Maybe these fans can now turn the page and worry about the 08 Mets and the future of the organzation. Maybe these fans can 1 day appreciate Franco and Leiter for how they helped the Mets get to the World Series in 2000, and they can appreciate how Peterson helped Maine, Glavine and Perez during the 06 postseason. The Mets would not have gone as deep in the postseason if it wasn't for these 3 pitchers. I will miss Rick Peterson, but I too have moved on and I look forward to turning this thing around in 2008. Ed

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