By Mike Steffanos
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.