Last year the Mets had a nice big celebration for the 50th anniversary of the franchise. This included not one, but two All-Time Team “lists” being generated. The first being the 50 Greatest Mets in Team History, and the second was an All-Time Team, selected from various candidates by a panel of Met experts (writers, broadcasters, etc).
The last time, and the first time really, this undertaking was done was in 2002, for the 40th anniversary. And it would be just an All-Time Team, but done through fan balloting, done both online at Mets.com and at Shea Stadium (fans would get rewarded with a special pack of Fleer baseball cards at the unveiling of the team prior to a game later in the season).
So, it would be interesting to see how a decade and a different, and some might argue better in terms of comprehending the task given to them, voting base changed feelings about the Mets’ All-Time Squad;
Starting with the skipper, the ballots for Manager remained unchanged with Gil Hodges, Davey Johnson, Casey Stengel and Bobby Valentine, though the 50th Anniversary panel went with Johnson, while the fans chose Hodges. It is unclear why the difference, perhaps many fans voted with sentimentality or the idea of someone honoring Hodges as the voters for the Hall of Fame certainly have not honored him yet.
We start to see changes with shortstop as Kevin Elster was on the fan ballot, but dropped in favor of Jose Reyes. Reyes would go on to take the 50th Anniversary team slot as the fans chose Bud Harrelson. Rey Ordonez and Rafael Santana and were also on both ballots.
Also third base saw changes as David Wright was added and Ed Charles dropped off. Wright also picked up the win 10 years later, replacing Howard Johnson as the selection. Hubie Brooks and Robin Ventura were also on both ballots.
The outfield slots were kind of tricky as the 2002 fan balloting made no distinction for positions, but in 2012, positions were considered. So the fans’ choice selected two centerfielders, Mookie Wilson and Len Dykstra, along with Darryl Strawberry. Strawberry was on the 50th Anniversary team in right, but was joined by Carlos Beltran in center and Cleon Jones in left. Jones was on the ballot in 2004, along with Tommie Agee, George Foster, Dave Kingman (yes fans could have voted for him twice), Willie Mays, Lee Mazzilli, Kevin McReynolds, Rusty Staub and Ron Swoboda. Out of the 12 listed, 9 were on the ballot 10 years later; Agee (CF), Dykstra (CF), Foster (LF), Jones (LF), McReynolds (LF), Staub (RF), Strawberry (RF), Swoboda (RF), and Wilson (CF) and. Besides Beltran (CF), Bobby Bonilla (RF) and Cliff Floyd (LF) were added as Kingman, Mays, and Mazzilli were dropped off. Perhaps 2002 was too soon from the end of Bonilla’s disastrous second go-around to be seriously considered for any sort of fan related list.
Presumably just to get two more players to make an appearance for the pre-game ceremony, the fans voted on their favorite pinch-hitters. Ed Kranepool and Rusty Staub made the cut that also included Bruce Boisclair, Mark Carreon, Matt Franco, Lenny Harris, Ron Hodges and Lee Mazzilli. The position was not offered to the 50th Anniversary panel, and needless to say, except for Staub in the outfield, and Kranepool at first, none of the players appeared on their ballot.
On the mound, the starting pitchers continued the lack of changes trend as Tom Seaver for righties and Jerry Koosman for lefties got the nod on both ballots. Seaver was joined by David Cone, Ron Darling and Dwight Gooden both times, and Koosman had Sid Fernandez, Al Leiter and Jon Matlack as competition both times.
And finally in the pen, the group of names stayed the same with Roger McDowell coming out on top from the right side over Neil Allen, Armando Benitez and Skip Lockwood both times. John Franco picked up the fan vote in 2002 over Tug McGraw, but 10 years later McGraw would get the lefty nod from the expert panel. Perhaps to them McGraw’s career just seemed better, and more dominant than Franco’s. Randy Myers and Jesse Orosco rounded out both candidate lists.
Overall, it is somewhat interesting, but understandable, that the Mets since 2002 are just represented by David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Cliff Floyd. The only revision in slotting Bonilla among the outfield is interesting, though there aren’t too many, if any other choices for a right fielder that you could make instead of Bonilla. Also interesting is the swapping of managers and lefty relievers. Probably both are along the lines of subjectivity over objectivity as both Johnson and McGraw probably are seen as having better overall careers at what they were being voted for than Hodges and Franco.