The term Mount Rushmore in sports refers to more than the scene for the climax in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest. It's not a reference to the headquarters of Team America: World Police either. It's a list of the top four in any given category. The Mount Rushmore for the New York Mets includes Tom Seaver and David Wright. What about those other two spots? For a long time it seemed to include Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry.
This is when things get tricky. Mike Piazza is a Hall of Famer and Mets icon. He could bump Doc or Darryl. There's also Jacob deGrom whose numbers put him there, but his departure and a multitude of injuries might have gotten in the way. Let's not forget Jerry Koosman either in this discussion. If not for pitching alongside Seaver for all of those years, he would’ve been a generation’s number one starter.
Gooden and Strawberry are and will be forever linked together because of the teams they played for, the huge numbers they put up as young kids, and unfortunately their off-field issues. If you're putting Piazza on the Mount Rushmore, which member of the 1986 Mets are you leaving off? It feels like you need to have someone from that team.
There's only room for one 1986 Mets star on the team's Mount Rushmore, who gets it?
Having Seaver represent one era, Piazza another, and Wright from the most recent makes sense. Everyone goes home happy whether you are a baby boomer, the child of one, or someone who accidentally started following the Mets because you had a crush on Wright. We just need a legend from the golden 1980s. Nobody was more popular than Doc and the Straw.
How do we separate the two? Strawberry did leave earlier in free agency yet it shouldn't count against him too greatly. Is it better to burn out than to fade away? This is what happened with Doc. Gooden faded a little more into the 1990s as he stuck around for some lean years. He also shouldn't have merit taken away because he remained.
By comparison, Gooden staying longer and having the more noteworthy seasons can push him slightly ahead of Strawberry. This doesn't steal away from anything Strawberry achieved. He's a Mets legend. When it comes to something like a Mount Rushmore the issue might be the shared spotlight.
Gooden's best years were greater than Strawberry’s. The 1985 campaign alone helps his case. To keep things even with two bats and two arms, Gooden seems like the better choice to join Seaver, Piazza, and Wright.
But there's still the question of whether or not others have passed Gooden. Did deGrom do enough? Are we awarding Keith Hernandez extra points for his broadcasting career, too?
The Mets Mount Rushmore is easy midway through construction. There's Seaver and Wright. Then the debate begins. Piazza and Gooden fit well, but are they the two to come after?