Later today, the Hall of Fame is going to announce the results of the Hall of Fame vote. While we should not expect anyone to don a Mets cap on their Hall of Fame plaque, this year’s ballot did have a decidedly Mets flair. Each one of these players have their own unique Mets story.
With the 2009 Mets looking for arms to round out what had been an injury riddled 2008 rotation, the Mets brought back former World Series MVP and then journeyman Livan Hernandez. Early in the season, he had acquitted himself quite well, and he would become the first ever pitcher to throw a complete game at Citi Field. Despite the strong start, he would falter as the season progressed, and he would be released.
For those Mets fans who bemoan how the Five Aces have not come fruition, there was Generation K. Sadly, they turned out to be a collection of injured pitchers that never fully reached their potential. Despite that, Isringhausen still had a good Major League career.
He would burst on the scene as a rookie in 1995 before the injuries set in. Subsequently, he would bounce back and forth between the minors and majors, and he would bounce back and forth between the rotation and bullpen. Whereas Bobby Valentine was reticent to use his talents in the bullpen, the Oakland Athletics were more than happy to use him as a closer. This would precipitate a disaster trade where the Mets obtained Billy Taylor.
Isringhausen became a terrific closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. Towards the end of his career, Isringhausen show he still had something left, and he would end his Mets career on a positive note with his getting the last seven saves he needed to reach 300 career saves.
Kent was never a beloved Met. It is quite hard to reach that status when you were the return for David Cone, who was the last bastion of the best stretch in Mets history. Fans never warmed up to him and even questioned if he liked playing baseball. Still, he would have a promising stint as Met before he was traded for Carlos Baerga, who had been putting up Hall of Fame type numbers during his years in Cleveland.
Kent would go on and become a star in San Francisco, and he would beat out Mike Piazza for the 2000 NL MVP. However, Kent would not beat out the Mets as the Mets would defeat the Giants in that year’s NLDS. The clinching game was the Bobby Jones one-hitter where Kent got the only hit.
When the Mets obtained him entering the 2008 season, he was supposed to put the 2007 collapse well in the rear view mirror, and the Mets were supposed to go on and win their first World Series in over 20 years. With the Mets in the midst of yet another collapse, Santana did his part to try to put a stop to it.
Santana demanded he get the ball on three days rest, and he would deliver the final Mets highlight in Shea Stadium history pitching a complete game three hit shut out. From there, the Mets and Santana would both fall apart. Eventually, Santana would need should surgery costing him all of the 2011 season.
In that 2012 season, Santana would forever endear himself to Mets fans by pitching the first ever no-hitter in Mets history. That 134 pitch performance on a surgically repaired shoulder was reward for all the hard work he had done to return to the mound. To some, it may have proved to be his undoing as he would only pitch in five more games before getting shut down again with shoulder woes. At the moment, even with his being on the ballot, Santana is still seeking a way to return to the mound again.
For Mets fans, Sheffield was first known as the nephew of Dwight Gooden. He was then known as the player Steven Phillips wouldn’t trade Glendon Rusch in order to obtain. This would led to Sheffield being traded to the Braves were he would become the umpteenth Braves Mets torturer. No love would be lost with Sheffield signing with the Yankees.
Throughout Sheffield’s career, many believed he would always find his way to the Mets, and Sheffield eventually did playing the last season of his career with the Mets. Arguably, he created the first ever real highlight in Citi Field history when he hit his 500th home run.
Heading into the 2006 season, the Mets pulled all the stops to make Wagner the Mets closer. Right off the bat, that would lead to fun sports radio debate as it turns out Wagner shared Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” as his entrance music. While Mariano Rivera may have made it famous locally, it was Wagner who had the music first from his days in Houston.
Wagner was dominant during the 2006 season, and he was the stopper that great bullpen needed. Sadly, that magical season began to come apart with his allowing a home run to So Taguchi in Game 2 of the NLCS, and many questioned where he was as Aaron Heilman was allowing Yadier Molina to hit the NLCS clinching home run.
Perhaps the most remarkable part of Wagner’s Mets career was his last one. Many had believed he had thrown his last pitch as a Met in 2008 as he had Tommy John surgery. Still, Wagner worked hard during rehab, and he pushed to make it back to pitch for a Mets team going absolutely nowhere. It was a mark of integrity for the pitcher, and he was rewarded by his getting traded to the Red Sox where he could go and chase that elusive ring.
Each and every single one of these players left a lasting impact on the Mets organization, and for players like Santana, in the event they are inducted into the Hall of Fame, it won’t matter to Mets fans what cap they are wearing on their plaque because in many ways they will forever be Mets.