I almost never boo a player. I saw my first baseball game in 1962, and the first Met I ever booed was Richie Hebner in 1979. Using rough math, I attended about 500 games in between those two events. That 1979 team was miserable, going 63-99, and Hebner made no secret of his disdain for everything about playing on it. He sure seemed to be going through the motions, and finally I broke down and started letting him have it. Lack of talent is just a fact of life, and I’m not going to scream at a guy because he is in over his head. Lack of effort, though, I cannot tolerate. Hebner had it coming to him.
That gets me to the 2013 Mets, a team short on talent, but one that I always believed was giving its honest all. For that reason, although I am mostly disappointed in how the season went, I wanted to give a shout out to a few players I enjoyed this year for various reasons. They gave me reasons to smile and enjoy this 2013 campaign.
Mr. Dependable: Daniel Murphy
Before the year began I wondered if maybe Murphy was a possible trading chip. We did not blog in 2012, but I will tell you that I spent most of last year wishing Murphy away. Even then, it was not that I thought he was a bad player, not at all, but like many other people I focused too much on what he cannot do, and not enough on what he is. A hell of a baseball player.
Daniel Murphy shows up, plays hard, hits, and works. Sure, Murphy will never be a fabulous defender, but he has become so much better at second, due to that work effort. And now, in 2013, at a point in most player’s careers where what you see is all you are going to get, Murphy steals 20 bases in 23 attempts. You win championships with stars, and with players like Daniel Murphy.
The Big Surprise: Juan Lagares
Lagares, all by himself, was able to prove me right, and wrong. I harped many times in the offseason that a great defensive center fielder could earn his way at Citi Field almost exclusively with his glove. Lagares showed folks how that could be true. But at the same time I never paid Lagares himself any attention, as I was not aware of the fabulous defensive player he was. In fact, when he was called up, I was dismissive of his ability to help the team at all.
Well, not any more. Juan made hard catches easy and impossible ones possible. A rocket arm, which he showed off again to nail a runner at the plate last night, is a fantastic bonus. Surrounded by the correct corners, he could easily help this team again in 2014. He surely helped them in 2013.
The Man with the Moment: Lucas Duda
I watch baseball to build memories. As time passes only the most special endure. The 2013 Mets had their share of great games, but for me one will stand out the most. I was at Citi Field on that wet night when Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch, and also the last pitch. A pitch that Lucas Duda deposited into short right field to complete a thrilling walk-off victory.
The Dude’s future with the team is way up in the air, but that game ensures him a legacy around here.
Okay, sure, there were more, many more. I didn’t even get to Matt Harvey, or Zack Wheeler, or the great David Wright. But those guys are the talents most easily focused on, and I wanted to take today to remember what these three players provided me in 2013 before the season is over and it is forgotten. On a day I started off by talking about booing, I wanted to give them all a deserved cheer.
Daniel Murphy, Juan Lagares, and Lucas Duda, thanks for making 2013 a more watchable season.