Each week during the off-season, I will be selecting a random, former Met to highlight. This will be taking place of our usual Friday segment, Rising Apple Player of the Week, until the regular season starts back up in April. If you have a former Met that you’d like me to highlight, please contact me at [email protected] and title your email: Rising Apple Off-Season Player of the Week suggestion.
This week, the former Met that I wanted to highlight just so happens to be one of my favorites of all time, Cliff Floyd. Before he joined the Mets prior to the 2003 season, I had two memories of the big left-fielder; one was him in the old school Florida Marlins uniforms while they were busy winning the 1997 World Series against Jim Thome and the Cleveland Indians. The second memory is always trading for him in Triple Play 2000 on Playstation when I started a season with the Mets. I never knew much about him, but the dude could rake, so I had to have him, obviously.
Needless to say, when Cliff signed a four-year/$26.2 million dollar deal with the Mets before the 2003 season, I was pretty excited that he would not only be giving Mike Piazza some legit protection in the lineup, but I also wouldn’t have to trade for him anymore in my video games. His four-year tenure with the Mets was an up-and-down one, but only because he had a hard time staying off the disabled list, only in more than 120 games in a season once (2005). When he was on the field, he was a leader, and productive.
I remember commentators getting on him when he wasn’t hitting home runs, but that always bothered me because I saw him as more of a gap-to-gap, line drive hitter. He was more apt to hit doubles (average 34 per season) than home runs (23 per season). However, a lot of his home runs would be line drive shots, would-be doubles that he smacked the crap out of and just kept going. He endured two tough seasons with Art Howe at the helm, but was around for the resurgence of the Amazins in Flushing. His best season came in 2005, when he was able to stay on the field the most often, playing in 150 games and getting 550 at-bats. Floyd put together a .273/.358/.505 line with 34 homers, 98 RBI, and 85 runs scored during the first year of Willie Randolph‘s tenure. During that time, he started becoming very close with a young David Wright, and it seemed as though Cliff became his mentor, helping him find his way in the Big Leagues.
In the banner year of 2006, Floyd had a hard time staying healthy again, only appearing in 97 games while posting a .244/.324/.407 line with 11 homers and 44 RBI. I have three vivid memories that I carry around from one of my favorite all-time Mets; the first one was a home run he hit against the Brewers at Miller Park. Don’t ask me when he hit it, because the only memory I have is the liner he hit to the concourse in right center field, which as a 15 or 16 year old kid, made my jaw drop. The second is the grand slam he hit against the Cubs on July 16th, 2006 during the epic 11-run sixth inning, where Carlos Beltran also hit a grand slam.
The last memory I have is of him catching the fly ball hit by Josh Willingham and lifting his glove high in the air after clinching the NL East pennant in ’06. He had seen this team during the worst of times, and was now celebrating in the same place during the best of times. I remember sitting in my dorm room as a sophomore in college, and watching that ball fly right into Floyd’s glove, then sitting there in amazement as I got to watch (and appreciate) the first NL East championship of my lifetime, with my favorite player catching the last out.
I, like most Mets fans, couldn’t wait for the playoffs to start, and I felt New York had something extra because they had a healthy and well-rested Cliff Floyd ready to contribute. It was awful to watch him round third base in LA against the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLDS and go down with an Achilles injury that ended his postseason, and unfortunately, his Mets career. I still think that if he were healthy, New York would’ve gotten past the Cardinals.
So, here’s to you, Cliff, this week’s Rising Apple Off-season Player of the Week. Thanks for being awesome, and for the fond memories.