The Mets all-time Kryptonite starting lineup

New York Mets Yogi Berra
New York Mets Yogi Berra / Focus On Sport/GettyImages
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Centerfielder Willie Mays

Willie Mays has always been thought of as THE best all-around baseball player of all-time. He was the absolute classic five-tool player. There wasn’t anything he could not do. There is no descriptive word that would effectively describe just how good he was.

Let’s get this straight…how good he was with the New York and, then, San Francisco Giants.

Mays had a great career. He probably would have had even better numbers had he not had to play so many games at Candlestick Park. But that is a moot point. And it doesn’t take away from how good he was.

But if we really want to talk about embarrassment, his time with the Mets was an injustice to him and his legacy. Mays was still productive, albeit slightly down, in 1971. He was still a danger to be reckoned with. But when the Mets got him a year later, he was a mere shell of himself. He was no longer able to play centerfield with the grace he always showed. His bat speed was obviously no longer there. And he struggled.

He was convinced to stay on for the 1973 season and got off to a dreadful start. But with so many younger starters sidelined with injuries, he was forced into duty and began coming around down the stretch and got hot along with the rest of the team…helping get the Mets to the World Series.

However, it was in that 1973 World Series that the great, the immortal, Willie Mays, was shown to have lost all of his abilities…the abilities that made him revered by fans, the media, his peers. For anyone who loved watching him…it was painful.

Earlier in the year, on Willie Mays Day, he gave a speech where he said, “Willie, it’s time to say good-bye to baseball…” and, unfortunately, he didn’t leave the stage on a high note.