Now that Terry Collins has stepped down as manager of the New York Mets, the search is on for a new skipper in Queens. The likelihood of Mets GM Sandy Alderson bringing in a “Sandy Alderson guy” is probably very high.
However, just for fun let’s hope that’s not the case. What if the Mets bring back an old Met to take the reigns? There are plenty of them out there and each one would create a buzz in his own way. The next manager of the Mets could very well represent the last chance for the deGrom/Syndergaard group to win the World Series. The excitement that would come with the hiring of a former Met may just give the club the spark they need to get over the hump. An “Alderson guy” could very well result in Art Howe 2.0.
Here are some former Amazins that just might make the Mets amazin’ again:
Bobby Valentine: Yes, he’s been here before. Yet, remember all the fun? Not to mention, all the winning. Valentine led the Mets to two postseasons and the 2000 National League pennant. He was passionate and fiery. Bobby V. even put on the occasional disguise in the dugout following an ejection. He’s all New York and the stage is not too big for him. Valentine is currently the athletic director at Sacred Heart University and he’s a whole year younger than Collins. If President Trump doesn’t call him first for an ambassador job to Japan, the Mets may want to reach out and make everything old new again in Queens.
Robin Ventura: Ventura played for Valentine in New York and as third baseman was part of that incredible late 90s Mets infield with John Olerud, Edgardo Alfonzo, and Rey Ordonez. Ventura is loved by Mets fans for his on field heroics and his off field kindness. A true professional, Ventura had a bumpy go of it as manager of the Chicago White Sox. He may have better success with the Mets however, considering the team still has the talent to compete if they have a productive offseason. The man who walked us off in Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS with a grand single could be a grand addition to the orange and blue in 2018.
Joe McEwing: Super Joe spent five seasons as a Met. He has been a White Sox coach since 2012. Many thought he had a shot at the manager job on the South Side when Ventura was let go, but the Sox went with Rick Renteria instead. Perhaps New York will be the club to give McEwing his first chance in the pilot’s seat. The Big Apple may be intimidating for some rookie managers but remember this is Super Joe. The man played seven positions (eight if you count DH) during his big league career. Why not add manager to his very versatile resume.
Edgardo Alfonzo: The former slugging second baseman is already a manager on the Mets farm and some feel he’d transition well to the big club in the same capacity. Alfonzo was part of the Valentine Mets and enjoyed back to back NLCS appearances as well as a trip to the World Series. Is Alfonzo flashy enough to lead the boys in Flushing? If the team wins, everyone is flashy enough. A losing Mets team with Alfonzo at the helm however would make him look like a much younger Collins.
Mookie Wilson: Gets by Buckner! Gets by Buckner! Nothing would have gotten by anybody if Mookie didn’t hit that trickler in the first place. An absolute beloved Met, Wilson is one of the all-time favorites in New York sports. Wilson has served the Mets well in his post playing days. He’s been a coach, a Minor League manager, and the team’s base running coordinator. Does Wilson even have an interest? We’d have to find out. But the man who wore #1 as a Met will always be #1 in the hearts of so many Mets fans, so perhaps a phone call is warranted.
Keith Hernandez: The best fielding first baseman I’ve ever seen is now one of the best television analysts the game has ever known. Captain Keith was a National League MVP and a two time World Series champion, including the 1986 Mets club. Hernandez knows his stuff. He’s old school and no nonsense. He believes in hustling and playing hard. Could he deal with today’s ball players and today’s touchy feely rules? Hernandez hates the manager’s challenge, replay, and all the things the grand old game did just fine without during his career. Mex could probably outwit anyone, but would he want to leave a broadcasting career that he is so good at? Probably not. If not the manager’s job in Queens, Hernandez should be in Cooperstown. If slick fielders Ozzie Smith and Bill Mazeroski are there, Hernandez deserves his spot too. He’s a better hitter than both of them. Unfortunately his chances of induction anytime soon are worse than the chances he manages the Mets next season.
Ron Darling: The former pitcher and Ivy League product was a teammate of Hernandez on the Mets and is a broadcast partner with him now. Along with Hernandez and Gary Cohen, Darling is part of the best television team in all of baseball. Darling is so good, that national coverage gobbles him up whenever they can, giving fans all over the nation the chance to hear top notch insight from this native Hawaiian. If Darling were in charge of the Mets, fans would take comfort in knowing the team was in the capable hands of a true baseball man. They agree with his analysis virtually all the time on TV–why not agree with his moves as skipper. Darling however is so accomplished in the booth it’d take a lot to lure him away.
Roger McDowell: Mr. Prankster himself, Roger McDowell was a huge cog in the 1986 Mets machine. He could get you one out or pitch five innings if you needed it. During the 1986 season McDowell won 14 games for the Mets and saved 22 more. He was so impressive he even got some votes for league MVP. There is no disputing he is the MVP of practical jokes. McDowell was known as much for his pitching as he was for his masks, hot foots, and spraying fans with a garden hose. The last several years he has served as a pitching coach–11 seasons with the Atlanta Braves and currently with the Baltimore Orioles. McDowell is a wild card in this managerial hunt but why not give this man who along with Hernandez made an iconic appearance on Seinfeld, a look. Some picks would have Mets fans asking ‘What’s the deal with that?’ McDowell would not be one of them. This joke man is no joke.
Wally Backman: You want a bleeping manager? We got a bleeping manager for you. If the Mets go 40-120 next year (like they did in 1962 with two rain outs that were not made up) fans would still be entertained if Wally Backman was the head honcho. Backman is known for his colorful play and his colorful language. Along with Lenny Dykstra, Backman was part of a 1-2 punch of table setters that 1980s Mets fans adored. Backman and Dykstra were the Wild Boys and their dirty uniforms after each and every gave showed you exactly why they earned that moniker. The Arizona Diamondbacks hired Backman as their manger in 2004 but fired him before he ever managed a game saying Backman lied about his past. He then managed several Minor League clubs with great success including teams on the Mets farm. Backman did so well in the Minors, he was considered a finalist for the Mets open managerial job that eventually went to Collins. Years later after toiling in the Minors and winning ball game after ball game Backman left, claiming he was forced out and blackballed by Alderson. Backman is now a coach in the Mexican Baseball League. Barring Alderson stepping down before a new manager is hired, Backman will probably not get the call. It sure would be a wonderful world though, if he did.
Howard Johnson: This is my pick. Howard Johnson should be the next manager of the New York Mets. HoJo has done everything right and he has everything a team would want. Johnson was a member of the 1986 Mets championship squad. He went on to become one of the team’s all-time mashers. The switch hitter joined the prestigious 30-30 club in 1987. After his playing days, HoJo has stayed around the game and he’s been the consummate pro every step of the way. A good man on and off the field, HoJo is a favorite of fans and players alike. Johnson has coached in the bigs with the Mets and the Seattle Mariners. The past two seasons have been championship ones for Johnson as a manager in the Minor Leagues in the Texas Rangers organization. In 2016 HoJo led the High Desert Mavericks to a title and just this year his Down East Wood Ducks won a championship as well. Perhaps his old teammate said it best months ago. “Dude, HoJo was a Major League coach for five seasons (with the Mets),” said Lenny Dykstra on social media back in June. “The fans love him. The players love him.” Dykstra added, “He’s a great husband, a great father. HoJo never cussed, never took pills, never chased women. That’s the exact kind of guy that fits the Mets. I think that’s why Wally Backman never got the job. And this is not an attack on Terry Collins personally. He’s probably a great guy. But we’re not talking about making new friends. We’re talking about winning games in the toughest city. He’s not the guy.” HoJo however is the guy. I agree with Nails on this one. Howard Johnson is the best fit for the Mets.
Davey Johnson: The only man alive to have won a World Series as Mets manager would send shock waves through baseball if he returned. Johnson has won over 13-hundred regular season games with five clubs including his stint with the Mets from 1984-1990. Johnson however is 74 years old and has not indicated any interest in returning to the Majors since his last game as the Washington Nationals manager in 2013.
Rafael Santana: Raffy was the Mets sure handed shortstop in 1986 and he’s been involved in the game ever since retiring in 1990 as a Cleveland Indian. Santana has managed and coached numerous Minor League teams. He is currently the White Sox Dominican Republic scouting and player development supervisor. Santana could be a guy no one is talking about that could step right in and do the job well.
Tim Teufel: Teufel is currently a Mets Minor League instructor. Teufel was a 1986 champion as a player and he was the Mets third base coach from 2011-2016. Teufel helped the Mets reach the World Series in 2015 and return to the postseason the following year. A surprise Teufel hiring would have Mets fans shuffling into the seats at Citi Field in 2018.
Bobby Jones: The former right handed pitcher who threw the best game in Mets playoff history (Game 4 of the 2000 NLDS) is one of the most cerebral, commonsense baseball guys you could ever meet. Jones had a wonderful career that he can credit as much to his head as to his arm. Smart and grounded, Jones would be an interesting choice to say the least.
Darryl Strawberry: After years of alcoholism and drug use, Strawberry has turned his life around. The four-time World Series champion and Mets fan favorite is now a Christian minister and author. He is thriving at helping others come to Christ. He has not indicated any interest in managing and has said the Mets organization has treated their former players poorly. So much so that he considers himself more of a New York Yankee nowadays. The Straw Man isn’t really in contention for the post but when I asked my 9-year old who the Mets should hire she said “How about Strawberry!” She’s been watching those 1986 DVDs a lot lately.
So now Mets fans will wait and hope. Could there be some much needed juice injected into New York’s National League ball club? Could a former hero return to right the ship? Here’s the list. A selection of one of these men could lead to a 2018 of baseball like it oughta be. Now, that would be exciting. But remember, this is the Mets and this is Sandy Alderson. So…we’re probably getting none of these guys and it’ll be a very boring selection of a Bob Geren type. Let’s hope not, even though Geren technically fits the criteria as a former Met. He served as the team’s bench coach for four seasons. This amazing mess however needs more of a jolt than that.
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @kevinscholla