New York Mets Q&A: Author Matthew Silverman

matthew-silvermanMatthew Silverman has been a professional writer and editor for over twenty years. He has authored, co-authored and edited numerous publications pertaining to Baseball, Football and sports in general. He has been a lifelong fan of Major League Baseball and the New York Mets in particular, which allows him to convey a genuine perspective of an avid fan while maintaining author objectivity. Matthew recently co-wrote “Shea Good Bye: The Untold Story of the Historic 2008 Season” with Keith Hernandez. He is currently putting together a book on the 1969 Miracle Mets, “The Miracle Has Landed”. He lives in High Falls, NY. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from Mets fans about Citi Field. And I know that you’ve been there a few times now. If you could change something about Citi Field, what would it be?

Matthew Silverman: I probably went to 300 games at Shea with 100 or so different people and was quite attached to the place. I even have a couple of orange Shea seats in my basement and some Shea dirt in a peppermint container. I was prepared not to like the new stadium out of loyalty, but I have to admit that I like it a lot. It’s not as good as Camden Yards or San Francisco, but I think it’s as good as Pittsburgh or Philly and blows St. Louis away, among the new parks I’ve seen. That said, the first thing I saw coming into Citi Field was the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, which is a nice tribute to perhaps the most important person in baseball history, but it doesn’t belong at the stadium for the New York Mets. They need a Hall of Fame and not just some slap-dash thing like they had at Shea and induct someone as frequently as we get a new Pope. So if I could change one thing, it would be to put more emphasis on the Mets history. It’s the least we deserve. Although Johan Santana has only been with the Mets for a relatively short time, he’s definitely making an impact. Do you think he’ll end up being one of the greatest pitchers in Mets history?

Matthew Silverman: In our Maple Street 2009 Mets Annual, we listed the 50 Greatest Mets seasons in history and Johan’s 2008 came in behind only Gooden’s 1985 and Seaver’s 1971 and 1973 seasons. So in one year he was better than two of Seaver’s Cy Young seasons, Gooden’s jaw-dropping rookie year, and Jerry Koosman’s best year. If he continues pitching like this the rest of the year, and I don’t know if that’s even humanly possible, he’ll be right there with the Mets careers Seaver, Gooden, and Kooz. And that’s after two seasons. Pitching wasn’t as hazardous or as babied as it is now, so what Johan’s doing is that much more remarkable. And the deal for him is starting to nudge Hernandez, Carter, and Piazza for best trade in club history. There’s been a lot of talk about breaking up the core (Wright, Reyes, Beltran) of this Mets team if they can’t make the playoffs in 2009. What’s your take on that?

Matthew Silverman: I think that’s the same people who feel that the only way to fix a car’s engine is to smash it repeatedly with a sledgehammer. I think they need to go with their gut and bring in more young players, but Wright, Reyes, and Beltran are the best in franchise history at their positions. Reyes is especially agonizing and I don’t think he’s matured much and has probably regressed in some ways, but the whole dynamic of the team changes without him. And not for the better. After this year, they really need to turn this team over–I don’t think they can do that in the middle of the season–but get rid of Delgado, Castillo, Castro/Schneider, Church and see what you can get for the likes of Feliciano and Green, while moving Parnell into Putz’s role. I hope that would make the club stronger and younger. Or maybe it doesn’t. Talking about the future is really pushing the limits of my know-it-all status. Can Oliver Perez be a productive pitcher for the duration of his three-year contract or is he a bust?

Matthew Silverman: They say you never give up on a left-hander, but if they get a chance to get rid of him for someone else’s problem, like Carlos Silva in Seattle, I wouldn’t wait long to make that deal. They got lucky with Ollie once after he fell apart. Twice might be expecting too much.

shea-good-bye You wrote the book “Shea Good-Bye: The Untold Story of the 2008 Historic Season” with Keith Hernandez. At this point, Keith is the Mayor of Metsville. Everyone loves him but most of us never get to see him off camera. How was he to work with?

Matthew Silverman: He’s a lot like he is on the air. I think people identify with him because he was without doubt the leader of the great 1980s Mets. People go ga-ga about Game 6 in the ’86 Series and sometimes overlook that the Mets were being shut out in Game 7 when Keith got a two-run single orff a tough left-hander (and he’d done the same thing in the same situation for St. Louis in Game 7 of the ’82 Series). You might expect him to be a little standoffish, but he went at the bookwriting like he was charging a bunt. Sometimes we’d spend half an hour talking about something that happened 20 years ago, but he’d always stop himself and get back to the current team and bring out an observation I never would have thought of. He thinks baseball on a different plane than those of us who couldn’t hit a curveball (or fastball, in my case). Keith labored over every word in the book. He’s a real perfectionist and a fun guy to work with. Very professional. Do the Mets lack “edge” as Omar Minaya told Ken Rosenthal this week?

Matthew Silverman: There was this shaving cream commercial in the ’80s where a guy would shave half his face with regular shaving cream and the other with this green gel called Edge. He’s take a credit card and rub it against each side. “Foam side. Edge side. Foam. Edge.” Both sides sounded the same. It was about as inane a commercial as Omar’s comments about the team. If he really believes in the “edge” factor, he should get a take-charge infielder at second or first to replace the passively disruptive Delgado and Castillo. And it was Omar’s jobs to create that edge if he thought it was lacking. Or maybe Omar should switch shaving cream brands.

Thanks to Matthew Silverman of for taking the time to talk Mets with us. Check out some of his previous works:

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