Claudell Washington died this week at age 65, and his passing inspired me to wonder aloud on Twitter where he might rank on the list of players who spent time in their career with both the Yankees and the Mets. Washington hit .277 over stretches of four years with the Yankees and .275 his one year as a Met.
What followed was a remarkable bit of instantaneous crowd-sourcing, some of it fun (“Roy Staiger!” cried more than one respondent. “Karim Garcia! Marv Throneberry!”) some really fun (“Bill Sudakis! Armando Benitez! Alvaro Espinoza!” but a lot of folks took this very seriously because … well, it is serious.
As such, an attempt at expanding and adjusting the top-five I did on Twitter to the top 10. As always, your red pen is welcome on this:
1. David Cone: This is the one that is a no-brainer. Cone won 20 games for both teams (1988 for the Mets, 1998 for the Yankees), he has a 3.13 ERA as a Met and a 3.91 ERA as a Yankee, and a WAR of 19.4 for the Mets, 20.3 for the Yankees. The spirit of this list isn’t just to have famous names who played for both, but guys who performed best for both. Cone stands alone using those specs.
2. Curtis Granderson: Granderson’s four years for the Yankees included two 40-homer outbursts, one top-five MVP (2011) and a WAR of 14.6. His next four years with the Mets, he was a cornerstone piece on a World Series team (and finished 18th in the MVP vote that year), then hit 30 homers (many out of the lead-off spot) for a playoff team in 2016, and he had a 10.1 WAR as a Met.
3. Darryl Strawberry: We tend to think that Strawberry was far more of a presence on the Yankees teams he played for, even though in five years he played in just 32, 63, 11, 101 and 24 games and had a modest WAR of 3.0. But he did add a fearsome lefty element to some excellent teams and accepted his lot as a platoon player. There is no need to expand on his eight excellent years with the Mets (252 homers, 35.1 WAR).
4. Orlando Hernandez: Easy to forget, but his two years with the Mets he was a steady and reliable piece of the rotation (18-12, 3.88 ERA) even if he did have an ill-timed injury on the eve of the ’06 playoffs. His playoff credentials as a Yankee (9-3, 2.65) are staggering to behold.
5. Doc Gooden: Gooden’s numbers with the Yankees were respectable if not overwhelming (24-14, 4.67 ERA), but his 1996 no-hitter is hard to overlook, and when paired with his Mets career deserves top-five status.
6. Carlos Beltran: Despite the faction of folks who won’t ever forgive him for staring at strike three, he was an all-time Mets offensive player, and as a Yankee he was both an All-Star and an unquestioned leader.
7. Rickey Henderson: He was an All-Star all four of his full seasons with the Yankees and stole 93 bases in 1988. His one year with the Mets (1999), he was a catalyst to pushing them to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years with a .315/.432/.466 slash line.
8. Robin Ventura: A core element of some terrific Mets teams from 1999-2001 (and among the best Mets free-agent signings ever). It’s easy to forget he was an All-Star with the Yankees in 2002, hitting 27 homers and driving in 93 runs while playing an ever-stellar third base.
9. Bartolo Colon: He revived his career with the 2011 Yankees after a one-year PED suspension (8-10, 4.00 ERA) before becoming a folk hero in three years as a Met (44-34, 3.90)
10. Willie Randolph/Rick Cerone (tie): Both had terrific runs with the Yankees in their primes, and both had notable one-year stays with the Mets toward the end of their careers.
Remember when the thing about baseball that made you most angry were trash cans and television monitors? That is rapidly becoming what we commonly call “The Golden Age.”
Two TV suggestions this week that I can’t possibly recommend any more ardently: “Quiz” on AMC and “Slow Burn” on Epix. And I can’t wait to dive into “Laurel Canyon,” at the suggestion of Christopher Russo.
You know who I wish was available to put this nonsense between baseball owners and baseball players and this silly season of non-negotiation into proper perspective? Mr. Marvin Julian Miller.
Nobody misses live team sports more than I do, but I have to say if I were a basketball player, the closer this whole bubble idea comes to fruition, the harder I have to look at what life inside that bubble for three months might actually mean.
Whack Back at Vac
Well, I knew that revisiting New York’s all-time uniform numbers list would probably get some of you talking, and a lot of you writing — but even I couldn’t have predicted the overwhelming response. Thank you for that. Thank you for caring. And thanks most of all for not holding back. This is the best part of my job.
At the top, a mea culpa: I’ll stand by just about all of my picks from 00-99, but there is one that I wish I had a mulligan (or, if you will, a do-over) on, and that’s 22. I picked Dave DeBusschere. As Mike Pitonza, Jason Raimondo, Bob Weiss, Dan Hogan, Ron Rose, Abe Zuntz, Howard Loox, John Hagen, Frank Lofaro — and, honestly no fewer than 200 others — pointed out, that number belongs to Mike Bossy.
(And it does. And it kills me: I grew up with Bossy’s poster on my wall. Great as DeBusschere was — and he was — this one was a whiff. I also think I might need to revisit Scott Niedermayer over Rodney Hampton at 27.)
There were plenty of offbeat picks — Joe Calesi campaigned for Eddie Giacomin over Pee Wee Reese at 1; John Hammersley says Pearl Monroe over Thurman Munson at 15; Robert Burnat (and others) say Don Newcombe over Jerry Koosman at 36, Bruce Zurlnick suggested D’Brickshaw Ferguson over Larry Grantham at 60 — and three other numbers that generated the most suggestions:
Many want Whitey Ford to at least be given a share at 16 with Frank Gifford. Many, many, many, actually — including Bill Gutterding, Vincent Dailey, Vin McArdle, Bill Zifchak, Danny Contartesi, Bruce Copp, Danny Contartesi, Carmine Fazzari.
Robert Greeney, Norman Berk and Rick Bause offered Emlen Tunnell over Tug McGraw at 45. And among the dozens who thought Mariano Rivera should be given a share of hallowed 42 with Jackie Robinson were Jeff Hookey, Mel Gross, Gregg Laskoski, Ray Southard and Frank Boccicchio.
Then there was Leo Kibler, among those not at all happy to see Alex Rodriguez at 13: “To put that cheater in between Joe Namath and Gil Hodges is an absolute disgrace.”
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