Flying Under the Radar

By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper

David Wright consoling teammate Jon Niese after he gives up first hit of game to Atlanta Braves in sixth inning, 4/8/2012

Looking back over the years of Mets history, certain players are revered for their effort on the field or participating on storied teams.  Names like Seaver, Koosman, Grote, McGraw, Strawberry, Hernandez and Carter summon up not only the nostalgia bug with certain people, but also reverence in Mets culture.

My philosophy is that along with winning or bringing a certain cha-cha-cha to the team.  Some people appreciate flash, like Jose Reyes.  Remember how he’d smile and clap when stealing base, and Chief of Behavior Police Shane Victorino would get all butt hurt over it?  Others appreciate a cerebral yet quirky guy like R.A. Dickey was celebrated all around baseball and in Metsopotamia last season while winning 20 games and winning the Cy Young Award?

I’ve made no attempt to hide my fandom of Jonathon Joseph Niese, known to you minions as Jon.  I consider myself the East Coast Chapter President of the Jonathon Joseph Niese fan club.  And before you ask if there is a West Coast Chapter, just trust me.  There is.

When I suggested that it was Jon Niese who is the staff’s ace going into 2013, I was mocked.  It’s gotta be JOHAN, they said.  Jon Niese isn’t a number one starter!

Others are nonplussed because…

He’s a lefty, but he’s not flashy.  He’s quiet.  He’s **shock horror** BORING.

So what?

Let’s take a look at the Mets personalities that have infiltrated the team over the years.

Look no further than Tom Seaver, the Franchise, who doesn’t quite have the reputation as being a nice guy.  In fact, he can be kind of a douche, from what we hear.

Mets fans want to see 16, 17 and 18 retired, yet they’re two coke addicts and an alcoholic.  (Note: I know they’ve cleaned up, but still…)

Children of the 1970s loved Maz and still do, but he’s a was a complete prick, according to The Bad Guys Won.

And not for nothing, Rusty Staub was kind of a jerk to me.  He’s loved by all.  (Hey, my blog, my rules)

Why do we revere certain players when we know they’re not the nicest guys?

But then on the flip side, a guy who has been on the team since 2008, pitched at SHEA for crying out loud, has been one of the most consistent starters on the team in recent years, he’s still in his friggin TWENTIES and is a lefty under team control for several years.

Oh.  He doesn’t have much of a personality?

Why does that even matter?  My question is – do pitchers need to have a dominating personality in order to DOMINATE?  The answer is…no.

I find it refreshing that Jon Niese is a fly-under-the-radar kind of guy.  The staff stalwart who has the ability to dominate in each start…flying under the radar so that he’s underestimated.  And then go in for the kill.

And you tell me that YOU wouldn’t want that guy around.


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