Mets Talk About Mets: We Poll the Players on What They Really Think About Each Other
Which Met spends the most time in front of the mirror? Who’s the teacher’s pet? Who’s the likeliest to cheat in a card game?
By JARED DIAMOND
Updated Sept. 24, 2015 7:50 p.m. ET
The Mets’ clubhouse is a pretty fun place these days, what with the team marching toward its first National League East division title since 2006. In a couple of weeks, the team will (most likely) be introducing itself to a national audience, so the moment is ripe for getting to know the guys on the field.
Beyond their athletic abilities, professional ballplayers are some of the quirkiest people you could ever meet. (That’s what happens when you spend your adolescence thinking about little else besides hitting a ball with a wooden stick.) Put 25 of them—or in the Mets’ case this September, 38—in a room for more than half the year, and it doesn’t take long for those idiosyncrasies to bubble up.
So The Wall Street Journal recently surveyed 19 players to find out how much the Mets really know—about the Mets. (Note: Not every player polled answered every question, and multiple answers were occasionally allowed.)Who’s the biggest gym rat?Winner: Anthony Recker (16 votes)
Runner-up: Carlos Torres (2 votes)
Most players answered this question without hesitation, barely needing to think before naming Anthony Recker, the Mets’ backup catcher. That includes Recker, who proudly selected himself, practically defying his teammates to pick anybody else. And with good reason: At 6-foot-2, 240 pounds, the 32-year-old Recker is essentially one giant muscle.
“You take one look at him, and he’s probably anyone’s pick,” outfielder Michael Conforto said.
Recker’s prodigious workout regimen has become an inside joke among the Mets. Rookie pitcher Noah Syndergaard, a 6-foot-6-inch hulk whose nickname is Thor, has a running gag with Recker where they frequently ask each other, “How many grams of protein have you had today?”
“The answer is always, ‘All of them,’” Syndergaard said.
Not everyone went with the clear winner. Two players singled out 180-pound relief pitcher Carlos Torres as an exercise fanatic.
“Torres is cut up,” infielder Eric Campbell said. “He’s not jacked, but he’s 0% body fat.”Who’s the most likely to hustle you in a card game?Winners: Michael Cuddyer (6), David Wright (6)
Runner-up: Daniel Murphy (2)
When Michael Cuddyer isn’t playing the outfield, he can be found honing his craft as an amateur magician. His specialty? Card tricks—a useful skill for taking his unsuspecting teammates for everything they’ve got.
“Why not?” Torres said. “If I had that ability, I’d do it, too.”
That said, just as many players picked David Wright. While Cuddyer relies on deception and sleight of hand, Wright’s tricks derive from sheer competitiveness. Wright, as much as any Met, simply hates to lose. Of course, it’s probably not a bad idea to let the captain win once in a while, either.Who spends the most time in front of the mirror?Winner: Yoenis Cespedes (7)
Runner-up: Kelly Johnson (3)
In his brief time with the Mets, star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has shown everyone as much about fashion as hitting home runs. He often wears a necklace with a large pendant, either showing his number, 52, or simply the letter Y. He showed up to his first news conference wearing a T-shirt that read, “Bam!”
“I’ve been very impressed with Cespedes’s wardrobe and what he’s bringing to the table,” relief pitcher Tyler Clippard said.
Several others, though, couldn’t look past another teammate’s unusual grooming habit.
“I saw Kelly Johnson with a hair blower the other day, and that made me laugh,” Wright said.
“It’s just unique,” said Daniel Murphy. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen it.”
To his credit, Johnson doesn’t deny that he blow-dries his hair. In fact, he posited that other players in the clubhouse have started following his lead, but are too embarrassed to admit it.
“They’re just mad I have such good hair,” Johnson said.Who’s the most intense about his fantasy football team?Winner: Daniel Murphy (
Runner-up: David Wright (7)
When it comes to fantasy football, Wright and Murphy appear to come as a package deal, as many players named both of them. They have been the leaders of the Mets’ fantasy football brigade for years, turning a friendly game into a ferocious blood sport. In the end, Murphy won by a single vote.
Murphy, however, takes exception. While he admits he used to be obsessed with fantasy football, he claims he has mellowed recently.
“My son has changed that now,” said Murphy, whose first child was born in April 2014. “I can’t put in the man hours as much anymore.”
Meanwhile, Cuddyer has also emerged as a fantasy-football heavy hitter in his first year with the Mets. “He’s got a little black book over there that I’d love to get my hands on, because he’s got some secret stuff going on,” Clippard said.Who’s most likely to work at ESPN after his playing career?Winner: Curtis Granderson (12)
Runner-up: Michael Cuddyer (5)
There is a reason why Major League Baseball sends Curtis Granderson around the world as an ambassador for the sport: He’s polished, well-spoken and an all-around good guy. In the eyes of his teammates, that makes him the perfect candidate to slide from baseball to television when he hangs up his spikes.
With the media, he rarely says anything controversial or steps outside the company line, but players don’t mind that. “He speaks well, and he’s very knowledgeable about everything,” catcher Kevin Plawecki said.Who could go pro in another sport?Winners: Tyler Clippard (6), Eric Young Jr. (6)
Runner-up: Yoenis Cespedes (4)
Plenty of Mets believe they could play another sport. Very few actually could.
“Niese thinks he can kick a 40-yard field goal, so I would say him,” Wright said. “But it’s more of a joke, because there’s no chance he could kick a 40-yard field goal.”
Eric Young Jr., perhaps the best all-around athlete on the team, is an exception. He had an opportunity to play college football, but turned it down to pursue baseball, like his father, Eric Young.
Others picked Clippard for his prowess as a golfer. Clippard says he plans to try make it on the pro tour after his baseball career. His teammates believe what he says—even if they all haven’t actually witnessed his exploits on the links.
“I’ve never seen him,” Cuddyer said with a laugh. “That’s what I’m going on—self-proclaimed.”Who would be the best cast member on “Saturday Night Live”?Winner: Juan Uribe (12)
Runner-up: Seven players tied (1)
Juan Uribe doesn’t speak much English, but that doesn’t stop him from entertaining his teammates around the clubhouse. He has been known to conduct postgame interviews with an unlit cigar in his hand. Before games, he’s usually found stalking around the clubhouse yelling about something; most recently, he went on a rant about football being shown on the locker room televisions rather than baseball.
“He has that carefree attitude,” Clippard said. “He has that persona and aura about him that he’d be good in those situations.”
Syndergaard had a more unconventional choice: himself.
“I’d probably go back to old-school, Celebrity Jeopardy, like Will Ferrell playing Alex Trebek with Sean Connery,” he said.Who’s Terry Collins’s favorite?Winner: David Wright (9)
Runner-up: Yoenis Cespedes (2)
Some players were reticent to answer this one at first, but eventually, the responses started flowing. A couple picked Cespedes, largely because of his recent heroics at the plate. But most went with the obvious choice.
“It’s got to be David, right?” catcher Travis d’Arnaud said.
“It’s got to be the captain,” Conforto said.
“Always go with the captain,” Young said.
Wright was sheepish when he learned that he had won in this category and declined to give an answer. Juan Lagares, overhearing this exchange, could only laugh.
“He knows!” Lagares said. “He knows.”