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NY Post
New York Post
9 Sep 2023

NextImg:Over-the-top tribute videos cheapen real emotion, appreciation for players

I suppose, on one hand, this is a somewhat innocent and innocuous trend. I suppose that in a world where it feels as if people are screaming at each other at the top of their lungs most of the time, where anger is forever percolating just below the surface, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being nice.

(As Felix Unger perfectly put it many years ago: “It’s nice to be nice to the nice!”)

So look, I’m not about to fly off the handle because it seems like the newest trend is to give anyone who ever bought a hot dog in your ballpark or arena a tribute video. It’s a nice gesture, a kind thing to do. There is no financial leverage in play here. Nothing to be gained or lost other than looking at a few of, say, Eduardo Escobar’s greatest hits.

But that doesn’t mean they haven’t gotten … well, a little silly.

And, yes, the Mets have become sort of the local clearinghouse for tribute videos, especially because it sometimes feels as if there are more ex-Mets playing in Major League Baseball as guys who actually wear the uniform. That has meant the past two months of this lost season has become something of a Homecoming Tour for the Mets.

Escobar got a tribute video when the Angels came to town last month, and it was sort of surreal paying tribute for the .240 batting average and 24 homers he hit in 605 at-bats for the Mets. That was followed by a similar tribute to Max Scherzer when the Rangers came to town the next series.

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Max Scherzer pitches against the Houston Astros during the third inning.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

That one didn’t go as well, and let’s face it, it was doomed to not go well. Mets fans got a lot of practice loathing Scherzer when he was a dominant force for the division-rival Nationals. His 42-game stint with the Mets, while pockmarked with some high marks, was also defined by his getting shelled by the Padres in the tone-defining opener to the wild-card playoff series last year. And he had some pointed things to say about the Mets after he was dealt.

None of that makes Scherzer a felon. It doesn’t even really qualify him as a villain. It does make you wonder where the screaming need to say thanks-for-the-memories comes from, unless you have especially fond memories of Scherzer’s six no-hit innings at Milwaukee last September.

    (It does make you wonder what kind of tear-jerking extravaganza the Mets have in store when Tommy Pham comes back to Citi next week with the Diamondbacks. And they may actually consider delaying the game by 15 minutes or so a few days after that, when David Robertson makes his triumphant — and no doubt tearful — return with the Marlins.)

    Call me old-fashioned, but I preferred when former players returned to the scenes of their greatest glories and it was the fans in the building who played judge and jury in determining how great and how grand the welcome-home would be.

    There were no tribute videos at Madison Square Garden — hell, it was 20 years before the first video screen was installed — on the night of Nov. 2, 1975, when Eddie Giacomin skated onto the ice as a member of the Detroit Red Wings, a few days after he was waived after 11 years as a Ranger.

    Arizona Diamondbacks' Tommy Pham watches his home run against the Chicago Cubs.
    Arizona Diamondbacks’ Tommy Pham watches his home run against the Chicago Cubs.

    The Garden was sold out, and it was beyond rabid as the chants of “Ed-die!” came raining down from the blue seats, reducing Giacomin to tears before a 6-4 Detroit win.

    There were no tribute videos at Shea Stadium on the afternoon of Aug. 21, 1977, when Tom Seaver returned to the site of his greatest moments two months after he was ignominiously traded away. There were 46,265 people who jammed Shea that day — easily the biggest crowd of the year — and Seaver drank in a minute-long standing ovation before throwing a six-hitter at the Mets.

    There were no tribute videos when Bernard King played his first game against the Knicks on Dec. 8, 1987, and though there was one when Mark Messier returned as a Canuck to play the Rangers on Nov. 25, 1997, that was beside the point. The tributes came from the voices, the emotions and the hearts of the fans.

    Not everything was better in the old days. But this stuff sure was.