FLUSHING, NY – So here it is. Shea Stadium’s villain is now Citi Field’s hero as Gary Sheffield tied the Mets eventual 5-4 win with a laser down the left field line.
The crowd was anticipating something with flash bulbs going off with every throw of the nine-pitch at bat.
It was a great moment for the Mets, during this early season and right now, the biggest home run in Citi Field’s four games. That’s what the Flushing faithful should be happy about, not Sheffield’s personal accomplishments.
For the fans at the new park to treat Sheffield like his name is Darryl Strawberry absolutely makes no sense. Up until a few weeks ago, the 40 year-old made his living killing the Mets. This is a former Marlin, Brave and Yankee, who has hit 30 of his 500 home runs off their favorite team. That’s the second most against any club, with only the Giants – he has to impress his buddy Barry Bonds – giving up more dingers at 34.
This is not your hero. Or your guy, even if he is related to one of your guys.
Of course, Sheffield was gracious after his shot, saying, “Everything happens for a reason. There was a reason why I hit 19 last year and got released to come here to do it on the biggest stage. That’s what makes it so special for me and my family.”
Very well, and this is a special moment for Sheffield. But this is not a watermark moment for the Mets. Just remember this, if Sheffield cost more than $400,000, he would probably have hit his 500th elsewhere.
Yet, that’s the story of the Mets. They get the players to achieve their milestones here, after earning the right to get them elsewhere. In recent years, we saw it with Tom Glavine getting his 300th win, Pedro Martinez hitting his 200th and Carlos Delgado smacking his 400th home run.
This is not a recent phenomenon, though as Duke Snider got his 400th homer as a Met, and Willie Mays hit his 650th and 660th in blue and orange. Even the always media friendly Eddie Murray hit his 400th with New York, after collecting most of them in Baltimore.
For some strange reason though this all makes perfect sense. Mets always traded on other team’s success. Heck, even the new ballpark is build to look like the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, so why not add Sheffield’s milestone to the list.
And if you missed tonight, Delgado is only 28 homers away from his 500th, so the Mets can ride his Toronto years as well.
Of course this will continue and the Mets aren’t the only team reaping the benefit of other’s milestones, but it seems like it happens more in Queens because the club hasn’t produced players that put up those kind of numbers. Uncle Doc and Strawberry imploded upon themselves, while Edgardo Alfonzo’s back just conked out on him. Pretty much, that’s about it.
Maybe David Wright and Jose Reyes will be around long enough to have their Met milestones enjoyed by the Met fans, instead of seeing their Amazin’ success cheered by those wearing other colors.
But for now, this is all you have, which is more of a statement of the franchise than anything else. So, go ahead Met fans, cheer your long time villains for killing your team, because after two collapses and one Hall of Famer in 47 years, there’s no other place to go.