I have lived within three miles of Shea Stadium/Citi Field most of my life, so it’s not a surprise I became a Mets fan. I didn’t choose the Mets because Tom Seaver was still on the team when I discovered baseball. He was simply there, simply part of how things were played at Shea. I came to understand that you needed great pitching, that the Mets had good pitching overall, and that Seaver was The Franchise. I am sure I saw him pitch on TV many times before he was traded away, but I can’t remember much from that long ago. But the night of June 15, 1977, that I still remember. Of the many low points in the history of the Mets, this is still the worst. The greatest player the team ever had, traded to the Reds more or less for spare parts.
I never stopped rooting for Tom. I cheered when I heard he finally had a no-hitter. I was glad he came back to the Mets, angry when they screwed up and let the White Sox take him away, cheered again when he beat the Yankees for his 300th win, and watched with thousands of others the day he took his final bows from the pitching mound at Shea the day his number was retired. Decades since he pitched, and he was still The Franchise. Oh, we shared him with Yankees fans when he spent a few surreal years in the broadcast booth with Phil Rizzuto. And we knew that everyone who loved baseball loved him. But he was ours. His death, from COVID and dementia and Lyme Disease combined, stings, but the memories, of thing I am old enough to have seen and of things that occurs before that, will endure.
Lou Brock was a legend in his own right, known for his speed much as Seaver was known for his strikeouts. There was a time when the stolen base was a big deal, and no one ever stole more bases, in a season or a career, than Brock. At least till Rickey Henderson came along. I understand why strategy has changed regarding the stolen base, but I still miss seeing speedsters challenge pitchers and catchers. And even Rickey didn’t have the grace that Brock did. Interestingly, no batter faced Tom Seaver more than Lou Brock, and no pitcher faced Brock than Seaver. So it’s maybe a little fitting they passed away within days of each other.
As ever, all sports subjects are welcome, including how Kawhi Leonard literally has more talent in his middle finger than most people have in their whole bodies. And don’t forget that an NFL preview thread can be found here.