Reports surfaced late last night via Newsday’s website that the Mets, whose offense thus far in 2007 has fallen a bit short of expectations, has replaced Rick Down as their hitting coach… with Rickey Henderson.
You heard me. Coach Rickey.
The man who leads the MLB in career runs scored (2295), stolen bases (1406), and caught stealing (335). The man who compiled 3055 hits and 510 doubles. The man who stole 100 bases in a single season three times, “topping out” at 130 SBs in 1982. The Man (that’s right, capital “M”) currently holds a career OBP of .401, having reached base 5343 times (4th most). The Man who hasn’t played in a MLB game in 3 1/2 years and is yet to retire because he is convinced that he can still hang.
The New Hitting Coach of the New York Mets. I am thrilled. Absolutely thrilled. And no, I’m not joking.
Rickey has been a special instructor to the Mets since 2006, joining the team in that capacity in Spring Training and at other arranged times throughout the season. Many have credited Rickey with the unfathomable growth of Jose Reyes, teaching him not only the art of the stolen base, but also of raising the OBP.
But first and foremost, in my mind, Rickey is the most entertaining man in baseball.
- He has been known to stand naked in front of a mirror for several minutes prior to games muttering to himself “Rickey is the best”.
- In 1999, as a player of the Mets, Rickey was asked to comment on the firing of then-Mets hitting coach Tom Robson. Henderson replied, “Who’s that?”
- He once left a message on (Padres GM) Kevin Towers’s voicemail, saying “”This is Rickey calling on behalf of Rickey. Rickey wants to play baseball.”
There is no doubt that some of the many Rickey stories such as these are fabricated (the John Olerud helmet story is definitely untrue), but there certainly is something about Rickey that makes them absolutely believable. It’s Rickey’s world. And now the Mets just live in it.
I cannot wait.