• A-Rod’s Love For The Mets

    Posted by on June 22nd, 2012 · Comments (9)

    Via Andrew Marchand -

    The apprehensive 13-year-old approached Keith Hernandez. Like any other kid meeting his idol, a “super nervous” feeling rushed though his body. Finally, with his courage up, the youngster addressed the player he had spent so many nights watching on TV.

    “You are my favorite player,” Alex Rodriguez recalled saying. “I hope to be drafted one day.”

    The funny thing about that chance meeting in 1988 is that Hernandez remembers it, too. Hernandez, the former MVP, was rehabbing a hamstring injury at Florida International University when this kid — who had yet to hit any of his 640 homers — walked up to him.

    What sticks out most in Hernandez’s mind was not Rodriguez’s “imposing physique,” but his intensity.

    “He was very intent to listen,” said Hernandez, now an analyst on the Mets’ network, SNY. “He asked questions.”

    Rodriguez has shown some chameleon tendencies during his career, claiming this place or that place was always his dream spot. But, in reality, on the eve of the latest Subway Series, Rodriguez knows it wasn’t Texas, despite the money, or the Yankees, despite the history, that tugged at his heart.

    It was the Mets.

    Growing up in Miami in the ’80s, there were three main outlets for Rodriguez to watch baseball. There was WGN for the Cubs, WTBS for the Braves and WOR for the Mets.

    He didn’t have much affection for anyone at Wrigley. He loved Dale Murphy during the years that preceded the Braves’ glorious run in the ’90s. But A-Rod’s favorite team was the Mets, cemented by the fact that they added Hernandez in 1983.

    “Him and [Gary] Carter were the finishing two pieces of furniture to create the perfect house,” Rodriguez said. “And they got the championship in ’86.”

    Fourteen years later, the Mets would return to their next World Series. By that time, A-Rod, just 25, had already nailed 241 homers — 79 more than Hernandez had in his entire 17-year career.

    Rodriguez, on the verge of hitting the market as possibly the most celebrated free agent in baseball history, famously showed up at Shea Stadium for the Subway Series, hoping he would emulate his idol and one day lead the Mets to a World Series title.

    Rodriguez wanted to be a Met so bad that one person close to him still insists he would have taken less than the $252 million the Texas Rangers ended up forking over.

    Instead, in the first of A-Rod’s many public relations disasters, a back-and-forth between his then-agent, Scott Boras, and the Mets resulted in the Mets failing to even bid on A-Rod. All he got from his favorite team was the “24-plus-one” tag pinned on him like a scarlet letter by then-GM Steve Phillips.

    I knew about the crush that A-Rod had on Mex. The first time A-Rod wore white spikes in an All-Star game, he said that he did it because Hernandez did it as well.

    I wonder how things would have played out different, for the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and A-Rod, had Rodriguez signed with the Mets instead of the Rangers. That would have been very interesting.

    Comments on A-Rod’s Love For The Mets

    1. clintfsu813
      June 22nd, 2012 | 9:05 am

      He’d be ringless

    2. Garcia
      June 22nd, 2012 | 9:54 am

      And there’s nothing wrong with ARod having a love for the Mets as youngster. And there’s nothing wrong with him thinking back to his youthful innocent days of being 13, meeting Mex, and imagining himself as a Met one day.

      It is wrong if he starts to say stuff like: I would love to end my career with the Mets. Or anything to that effect.

      And from what I read, ARod said none of that. I remember being 10 in 1985, and loving Strawberry, loving “The Hitman” (oh that poster, every time I see it I see myself as a kid) and Ricky Henderson, loving L.T, Bavaro, and Phil Simms, loving Ewing, loving Wesley Walker and Al Toon.

      I had no idea I was supposed to hate the Mets and Jets as a kid. These are things that kind of evolved, and to some extent it was way simpler to think of the world that way, but your feelings evolve based on the environment around you. Doesn’t mean you still can’t think of those days fondly? I still do.

      So ARod looking back at those days with a childlike innocence, wondering how he get to where he is today. I find that all to be quite normal. I often ask myself, when was it exactly that I started to despise the Mets? the Jets? I can’t even remember, and sometimes I wish it didn’t have to be that way. I’m sure ARod wonders this same thing, too:

      I wonder how things would have played out different, for the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and A-Rod, had Rodriguez signed with the Mets instead of the Rangers. That would have been very interesting.

      Though he probably won’t say it.

    3. MJ Recanati
      June 22nd, 2012 | 9:59 am

      Garcia wrote:

      I had no idea I was supposed to hate the Mets and Jets as a kid. These are things that kind of evolved, and to some extent it was way simpler to think of the world that way, but your feelings evolve based on the environment around you. Doesn’t mean you still can’t think of those days fondly? I still do.

      Exactly!

      I loved Doc, Straw and Gary Carter even though I was a Yanks fan and I loved Freeman McNeil and Al Toon even though I was a Giants fan. Now I generally don’t connect with players of teams I’m supposed to hate but, as a child, of course. We all did.

    4. Garcia
      June 22nd, 2012 | 10:11 am

      @ MJ Recanati:
      Those Jet teams were fun, I always hated the Dolphins and still do because of those Jet days. I still remember listening to the OT game in 1986 between the Jets v Dolphins, scored tied at 45, “O’Brien to Walker to win the game”.

      I feel like Wu Tang Clan’s, ‘Can it all be so simple’, can be playing the background while I tell these stories.

    5. G.I. Joey
      June 22nd, 2012 | 11:04 am

      I grew up idolizing Doc, Straw, and Gary Garter too even though I was a Yankees fan. This probably had to do with the fact that since I grew up on LI, I attended way more Mets games b/c Shea was closer to my home. I was completely unaware of any animosity between the two fan bases. My parents (both from the Bronx) never discouraged me from rooting for those guys, but I am curious how they would have reacted if I turned into a full blown Mets fan.

    6. June 22nd, 2012 | 12:08 pm

      You guys amaze me.

      I’m going to be 50 this year. So, I have mellowed. In fact, now, I can’t help but to root for a guy like Dickey to do well – except for when he is facing the Yankees.

      But, as a kid in the 1970′s and as a young adult in the 1980′s, as a diehard Yankees fan, there was no way that I could root for, or idolize, a Mets player.

      I had some friends that were Yankees fans who rooted for the Mets – especialy in ’86. And, I ripped into them good for doing this…

      Immature? Most likely.

      But, at the time, there was no way that my Yankee fandom would have allowed me to root for or idolize a Mets player. No way at all.

    7. Garcia
      June 22nd, 2012 | 12:37 pm

      @ Steve L.:
      It wasn’t till I got older where I learned about all the crap the Mets pulled when the Yanks played at Shea in the 70s, and learned more about the underlying hatred between both teams.

      The animosity just wasn’t as in your face as it is now. My mom was a big baseball fan, she grew up a Giants fan because she was raised in the Dominican Republic and everyone loved Marichal. Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but with my mom (or w/ my grandfather) I just watched baseball (didn’t matter much if it was the Mets/Yankees).

      I know one thing, everyone I knew in my family loved Ralph Kiner and everyone loved Phil Rizzuto (‘from the money store’). I loved Righetti and I can still remember that awful 4th of July in 1983 like it was yesterday, after that day I identified myself as a Yankee fan but I had no idea I was supposed to hate the Mets too. That didn’t come till many, many years later. Plus, they never played each other so there was this logical separation where I didn’t see how either team intersected with the other.

      Bottom line, Steve, you were a die-hard Yankee fan since that nut fertilized the egg. :-)

      And I’m with you, I love rooting for Dickey. I have no problem seeing him do well. Same with Johan, for some reason I really like the way he carries himself. Since Reyes is no longer with the Mets, I am appreciating the Mets way more than any other time in my adult life. And I root for the guys just like you, except for when they play the Yankees.

    8. KPOcala
      June 22nd, 2012 | 12:54 pm

      Small error in Marchand’s (A-Rod’s?) story. In the eighties, Yankee games were fed into Miami via (if memory serves) WPIX. Probably more Yankee games were played on tv there than any other team….

    9. Evan3457
      June 22nd, 2012 | 4:02 pm

      I was already a (mostly) grown man when the Mets rose up in the Frank Cashen/Davey Johnson era. I never like the team, or the players. I admired the way Keith Hernandez played the game. I admired the way Gary Carter played the game. I admired the way Mookie Wilson and Wally Backman and Lenny Dykstra played the game. But I didn’t like them.

      I especially admired the way the Mets’ ownership, GM, and manager worked hand in glove to create and carry out a systematic plan to bring in talented young players, develop those players, identify the ones they could afford to part with, trade those players for other teams’ misidentified spare parts or disgruntled veterans (Allen and Ownbey for Hernandez is a classic of the type; Lee Mazzilli for Ron Darling and Walt Terrell (who became Howard Johnson) is another one), and wind up with an airtight, lockdown, top to bottom championship squad.

      Especially when compared to the Klown Kar Kollege of King George at the time.

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