Joe Torre, Playoff Droughts and Being Uncomfortable on Photo Day

1981 Fleer - Joe Torre
1981 Fleer – Joe Torre

With Game 5 of the World Series going tonight at Citi “I Wish They Still Called It Shea Stadium” Field, I thought I’d talk about the Mets a little. And in this case, someone that a lot of people forget was a Met for a while.

Joe Torre, who looks wildly uncomfortable here on 1981 Fleer cardboard, transitioned directly from being a player with the Mets (1975-77) to being a manager, and actually spent 18 days as a player-manager before retiring as a player. I think Joe’s discomfort on photo day that year comes from the fact that he knew he’d end up being a legendary Yankee manager someday, and the Mets uniform felt unnatural. I don’t even like the Yankees and I know that’s probably a cold hard fact.

Torre actually played the sixth most games in baseball history without ever making it to the playoffs, and then managed another 1,901 with the Mets, Braves and Cardinals before finally being part of a playoff team with the Yankees in 1996, when they won their first World Series in 18 years. That’s over 4,100 Major League Baseball games before getting to the playoffs even once. That’s the equivalent of over 25 seasons. 

If that doesn’t give you hope, you’re probably a Cubs fan.

George Foster, Aviators and Accusations

1986 Topps - George Foster
1986 Topps – George Foster

There are a lot of things I wish had carried over from baseball in the 1970’s and 1980’s to the present day. I could do without all the cookie-cutter stadiums, AstroTurf and scandals (well, I’m sure there will always be those), but there are a lot of things I would have liked to see in today’s game.

One of these things is a sense of style like the one George Foster had. George is pictured here late in his career with the New York Mets. You see, George is wearing aviator sunglasses during the game. Not fancy Oakleys, not those flip down ones they wear in the field. Just pure classic aviators. That’s a whole new level of cool that I know I could never pull off.

George hit 52 home runs in 1977 in Cincinnati, which was the last time anyone hit 50 until Cecil Fielder in 1990. In between, though, he left Cincy in a bit of a huff, and then played the race card with the New York Mets, even though they replaced him with Kevin Mitchell and had Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden as their marquee players. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. That Kevin Mitchell.

Sometimes you gotta be able to let go, George, but don’t ever let go of that style.