Wednesday, November 08, 2006
"Pick up the phone, Rickey. It's me: You."
Reason 7: He'll give the best interviews
On his album, "Shut Up You Fucking Baby," comedian David Cross said, "If you've ever seen Rickey Henderson interviewed, it's the best. It's sweet, it's sweet glorious music. It's like he's communicating secretly to an intergalactic leader from another space federation."
To most people, this statement would appear to be a gross exaggeration. But to anyone who's ever had the good fortune to hear Rickey speak, it is 100% truth. Rickey Henderson's interviews are gold. He is a master in the art of referring to oneself in the third person. And with Rickey, it is always entertaining because he doesn't use it as a gimmick or to be funny. It's indeed like he exists on a different plane than the rest of humankind.
The 2006 Mets were a team that fans felt good about rooting for because they played hard, played smart and appeared to be a group of genuinely good people. But for the most part, postgame interviews got to be a drag, with players rotating through their short lists of appropriate reponses like, "There's a lot of baseball to be played," or "One game at a time." These are good things for fans to hear and players to say especially if they mean it, yet in August, after hearing it for the umpteenth time, it tends to get old and scripted.
However, when a player like Rickey steps up to the mic, all bets are off. Minds are blown. He says things no one in baseball has ever thought to say. When questioned about his bizarre interview style, Rickey once responded:
"Listen: People are always saying, 'Rickey says Rickey.' But it's been blown way out of proportion. People might catch me, when they know I'm ticked off, saying, 'Rickey, what the heck are you doing, Rickey?' They say, 'Darn, Rickey, what are you saying Rickey for? Why don't you just say, 'I?' But I never did. I always said, 'Rickey,' and it become something for people to joke about."
When you've got a guy like that on your team, you've got something special. With the Mets constantly battling the Yankees for their share of front-page media exposure, having Rickey around can only help. His interviews alone could have people talking about the Mets for a long time, as well as attract new fans who have never heard Rickey speak before.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Reason 6: He's still got it.
The last time Rickey Henderson played in a major league game was in 2003, and many naysayers assume he's gotten rusty since then. This is simply not so. Anyone who would say Rickey Henderson is rusty haven't been paying attention. Rickey's career batting average in the majors was .279. So how did the best leadoff hitter in history fare in the minor leagues, playing against kids in their early twenties while he was himself in his mid forties? Rickey Henderson's minor league stats answer that.
In 2003, Rickey Henderson played 56 games with the Newark Bears (who have also recently hosted both Canseco brothers) and hit .339 over 171 at bats with a staggering .493 on base percentage (OBP). In 2004, Rickey returned to Newark for 91 games. Although his batting average was around his career mark (.280), his OBP remained at an outstanding .462.
In 2005, Rickey Henderson played for the San Diego Surf Dawgs and posted a .270 batting average with a .456 OBP. Rickey rusty? Never. He may have been hanging in the minors, but he's been keeping his skills sharp and his reputation clean.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
"I like playing for Oakland, they have a very colorful uniform."
It's well known that Rickey Henderson is perhaps one of the most flashy players to ever live. Rickey Henderson has always played the game with a bit of style, flare and most of all, passion. In fact, Rickey once quipped that one of the reasons he enjoyed playing for the Oakland Athletics is because their uniform was so colorful and matched his personality. It's true, with their abundance of kelly green and bright yellow, the Athletics are admittedly colorful. They're pretty much the second most colorful team in the league. Next to who, you ask?
The New York Mets, that's who. Bright orange, royal blue. these are the colors the Mets and their fans wear proudly to show their passionate support for their favorite ball club. This, as we saw in the 80's, is the kind of environment Rickey Henderson thrives in, so bring him to New York, put him in blue and orange and watch him go.
Friday, November 03, 2006
But he's too old
Reason 4: Rickey's not too old
Julio Franco was born on August 23, 1958. The very same year that brought us Alaska, NASA and the Cuban Revolution. It was also the same year of Rickey Henderson's birth--barely. God gave earth the beautiful gift of Rickey Henderson on the same day as his own son's birth: December 25th.
Julio Franco's pro career began in 1982 and through today, has hardly a blemish to it. This past season, at the ripe age of 47, he clocked an impressive season average of .273 in 165 ABs as a Mets bench player. Franco is one of many Major League players in history to have destroyed the 40 year age barrier and gone on to prove year after year that oldies can still be goodies. Rickey Henderson, in his fortieth year (as a Met, no less) posted an eye-popping .315 average, proving to the world that like several notable players before him, age means nothing.
Were Rickey to sign on with an AL team for 2007, he would by far be the oldest player, outliving veteran Randy Johnson by a staggering 57 months. Yet in the NL, Rickey would be the second oldest, by four months, to the venerable Mr. Franco. And if he gets signed to an NL team, why shouldn't it be the one where he could take comfort in not being the oldest on the field?
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Rickey Don't Hate
Reason 3: Clubhouse chemistry
"Rickey needs to help Alex out... Rickey's got to help Alex understand these fans"
- Rickey Henderson
As a Mets special instructor this past season, Rickey has shown that he'll never lose respect for the game or his fellow players. Since the All Star break, the New York media and fans have bombarded Alex Rodriguez with an unrelenting stream of criticism and insults despite his outstanding numbers in 2006. Yet here is Rickey, after mentoring Jose Reyes to an MVP-like season, offering to restore a lost and battered crosstown rival to MVP form.
Orange Julius of Everything2.com describes Rickey:
"One thing you should know about Rickey Henderson... is that if anyone tells you that Rickey is a selfish player, or that he's a "cancer in the clubhouse", or any of that nonsense... they don't know a thing about Rickey Henderson. Does Rickey have a high opinion of himself? Yes. Does he say goofy shit from time to time? Yes. But this is a guy who plays for $3,000 a month in the Atlantic League, picks up balls during BP, and gives all of the free equipment and apparel that he gets to his teammates."
It's been proven time and time again that one of the key components of a winning team is a good chemistry. When players get along, they play harder for one another. Between his genius, kindness and honesty, Rickey would surely have an even bigger impact on the Mets team chemistry as a player in 2007.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
"Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today I am the greatest."
Reason 2: Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Famer
A 10-time All Star, Rickey Henderson not only led the AL in stolen bases in 12 separate seasons (7 of them consecutive from 1980-1986), but his 1406 stolen bases make him the greatest base stealer of all time. In fact, Rickey Henderson's career numbers dwarf Lou Brock's (2nd all time SB) by almost 500!
But of course records aren't the only thing that get you into the hall of fame. Sportswriters have a little to do with it, and what do they have to say? In 2001, Baseball Digest writer Irv Moss explained why Rickey Henderson is the greatest lead-off hitter of all time:
"At 42, Henderson surpassed Ty Cobb as the all-time record holder for runs scored--and on October 7, he became the 25th major league player to reach 3,000 hits when he double off Colorado's John Thomson. Already rated as one of baseball's best leadoff hitters, if not the best, Henderson holds the big-league record for walks at 2,141. His major league records also include 1,395 stolen bases and 79 first-inning leadoff home runs."
Ann Tatko-Peterson of the Contra Costa Times sings similar praises:
"Starting in 1980, his second season, Henderson led the league in stolen bases seven straight seasons. It may have been 11 straight if not for an injury in 1987... Statistician Bill James wrote in 2000, 'without exaggerating one inch, you could find 50 Hall of Famers, who, all taken together, don't own as many records, and as many important records, as Rickey Henderson.'"
Rickey Henderson is a Hall of Famer, and nobody can deny that. Who doesn't want a Hall of Famer on their team?
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Please sign Rickey Henderson. I will post a new reason for you to sign Rickey Henderson as a 2007 New York Met here every day.
Reason 1: Shawn Green sucks.
Since signing with the Mets, Shawn Green posted a .257 batting average, and committed 3 errors in 32 appearances for a .949 fielding percentage in the regular season. Although he hit .333 in the 2006 NLDS, Green only had 2 RBIs and only scored 1 run. In the 2006 post season, he had numerous fielding gaffes and continuously failed to get hits in clutch situations. Green has never stolen more than 35 bases in a season.
Rickey Henderson has a career .279 batting average, and .980 fielding percentage as an outfielder, and has stolen an average of 74 bases per 162 games.