The 2023 season is nearing its home stretch. Despite entering the year with aspirations of competing for a championship, the New York Mets will almost certainly be on the outside looking in when the playoffs begin.
Though the team hasn't yet found the success on the field that fans have hoped for, Mets owner Steve Cohen has done many things to improve the fan experience and reconnect with the team's history. Here are four of the best.
1) Retiring the numbers of Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry
On Thursday, the Mets announced that two of the most iconic Mets of all-time, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, would have their numbers retired next season. As someone whose favorite player growing up was "Straw", I'll admit some bias here, but I know I'm not alone in thinking this is a great decision by the Mets.
Gooden and Strawberry were, in many ways, the faces of the franchise in the '80s. Two ascendant superstars that took the league by storm, they were two of the best players on the Mets' 1986 World Series-winning team. Just as quickly as their rise, though, was their fall. We all know the personal demons that each player faced, but that doesn't overshadow the contributions, and the sheer excitement, they brought to Mets fans everywhere.
Gooden and Strawberry have always been been seen as a package deal. They reached the majors a year apart and made numerous All-Star teams. In a sport that has seen declining participation by black players, they were two rare black stars on the same team. Both overcame personal struggles to emerge on the other side and once again find success.
Cohen's decision to give each player their own day of celebration next year is surprising to some, but well deserved. I'm sure Gooden will be there for Straw's big day, and vice-versa, but despite their closeness, each was more than just half of a tandem. Allowing each player to have a solo induction ceremony is a great move.
Gooden and Strawberry will now join Keith Hernandez, Willie Mays, and Jerry Koosman as players who have had their numbers retired since Steve Cohen took over.