Oh, Gods and years will rise and fall
And there’s always something more
It’s lost in talk, I waste my time
And it’s all been said before
While further down behind the masquerade the tears are there
I don’t ask for all that much I just want someone to care

That’s “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert, perhaps the greatest pop song that’s remembered (or even heard of) by the fewest people around. Oh well. The last line in that stanza sums up things pretty well. It may be a love song but it can apply to a baseball blog and it certainly applies to how fans relate to players and management of a sports team.

My first thoughts that management didn’t care was with M. Donald Grant in 1977. Grant cared but not about fielding a successful team for the fans. He cared about money and relative status between players and execs. My first thoughts that a ballplayer didn’t care was with Richie Hebner. Maybe Hebner cared a lot but that’s not the impression he gave off in 1979.

There’s no doubt that other players, managers and execs didn’t care before that – those are just the ones that stand out to me.

We all get exasperated by guys who don’t perform particularly well. But at the end of the day, our quibble isn’t with the player, it’s with the manager who keeps writing his name into the lineup and the GM who won’t acquire a better player.

Doug Flynn was a guy that infuriated me back in the day. But there’s no doubt that Flynn was giving it everything he had. The anger back then should have been directed at management that allowed a guy to get 2,269 PA with a 57 OPS+ in a Mets uniform. That’s just horrible and indicates a level of not caring that we should never tolerate again.

At the end of the 1980 season, Wally Backman came up and put up a 115 OPS+ in 110 PA. He was back in the minors for 1981 so that our buddy Flynn could be the starter. Flynn put up a .222/.247/.292 line. Flynn was gone the following year and second base was split among Backman, Bob Bailor and Brian Giles. Backman had a 115 OPS+, Bailor had a 79 and Giles had a 63. Guess which one was the guy who played 145 games for the Mets in 1983? Yep, it was Giles.

In early June of 1983, manager George Bamberger resigned and famously said, “I’ve probably suffered enough.” To this day, it’s unclear to me if that meant he cared or not. Can you suffer without caring? Can you care and quit and leave the job to someone else? Regardless, we should be grateful that Bamberger resigned. Frank Cashen was unlikely to fire his pal Bamberger. And when Davey Johnson became the manager in 1984, he installed Backman as the club’s second baseman.

In this century, there probably hasn’t been a guy who cared less than Frank Francisco. The quibble with Francisco wasn’t necessarily his performance in games. After all he was 22-25 in Save chances in 2012. Rather it was when he was injured the following season and displayed no urgency in his rehab or his return to the majors.

Andy Martino reported in the Daily News that Jenrry Mejia, “had Frank Francisco advising him to stay in Port St. Lucie and collect his big league D.L. money, rather than work to return and be optioned to the minors.”

Some people felt that Rafael Montero was doing the same thing in 2015. Apparently, Terry Collins was one of those people, as Collins made a trip on an off day to St. Lucie, where Montero was rehabbing, to essentially yell at him. This point of view never made sense to me. Francisco had already made more than $20 million in the majors when he pulled his rehab stunt. Montero had made nowhere near that much.

And history has proven that Montero cared. He put in the work to recover from his shoulder injury and last year he posted a 2.48 ERA and a 0.966 WHIP with the Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, Francisco got a minor league deal with the White Sox in 2014, put up a 12.27 ERA and a 2.727 WHIP in four games and his MLB career was over.

As we look to the 2020 season, one would be hard pressed to point to a player on the Mets as one who didn’t care. Can we say the same thing about management? Will Brodie Van Wagenen insist to his rookie manager that Robinson Cano remain in the lineup if he repeats his poor start from 2019?

We all want Van Wagenen to care more about the Mets than he cares about his former client in Cano.

12 comments on “A glimpse of players, managers and execs caring about the Mets

  • José

    Is that the Doug Flynn with the lifetime minus 6.9 WAR? Yikes!

    • Brian Joura

      And that’s being propped up by his defense, which was pretty good. If you look at him just offensively the picture is much, much worse. He has a (-223.8) lifetime wRAA. That’s the 11th-worst mark of all-time.

  • Chris F

    I’d sure put September Gurls by Big Star in that list…google and play the video. You’ll be happy!

    Frank Frank, Mejia, Montero…maybe this explains my inherent skepticism about things. Add Beato, Dice-K, Captain Kirk, Omar Quintinilla, and Campbell Soup and the hit list of Alderson years is a real tear-jerker. I’d put Mike Baxter in that list, but before Mike we all genuflect.

  • TJ

    Douggy Flynn and Brian Giles…I wish I had a nickel for each time the Met broadcasters told me how much they contributed to the team with their gloves. In the early 80s my buddies and I used to refer to Shea Stadium as the house that Giles built. But, as you said, those guys were still exceptional baseball players, rising from the millions of us to make it to the show. They just had no business getting all that time, but this is what hapless franchises do.

    For 2020, I don’t see that as much as an issue, with the exceptions being Cano and perhaps Cespedes. At least these guys have some documented success, and some documented dominance. While the likelihood is small that they will ever dominate again, I can live with them playing lots of innings if they are productive as it will make the team deeper. With new ownership looming, one way or the other, I expect that Brodie will “care” more to field the best team daily, than to please his former clients, as the team record will likely be the biggest factor in how long he retains his position post-Jeffy. So, I’ll take that caring, even if it is driven more by selfish motives than overall team performance motives.

  • Terry

    You can care and quit. That’s recognizing you don’t have what it takes to get the job done.

  • Dennis M Spellman

    M. Donald Grant definitely only cared about money when it came to the ballclub. He was a customer in our Marina for a long time & when Tom Seaver was looking for a better contract, Grant sat in our office, as me & all my brothers & my father are Mets fans, we were talking about the Mets & Seaver. He said he will probably have to be traded because he will never pay a ballplayer one million dollars to play baseball. So there is the proof that that & he probably Mrs. Payson didn’t care much about keeping the team competitive only about saving money.

  • TexasGusCC

    Doug Flynn! My first ever favorite Met! I really know how to pick em, huh? When I say that I root for the underdog, I’m not kidding. LOLLLLLLLLL! I used to argue with Yankee fans in school that Flynn was better than Randolph!

    Later, I had my buddy Gump, as Chris F. calls him. LOL! At least he was better than Flynn!

    • Chris F

      Is ol’ cement boots really better? Im just asking, ya know, for a friend.

  • TexasGusCC

    Also, my 2020 nomination for the I don’t give a ______ award, is Jed Lowrie. I win!

    • Chris F

      Give you the crown, because Lowrie is the full on winner…in a stiff competition with the Wild Boar and Cannot.

      • TexasGusCC

        “Cannot”.

        Awesome!

  • JimO

    A point in Flynn’s defense is that he did win a gold glove in 1980. I think he stayed relatively healthy as well.

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