Darryl Strawberry says the Mets turned their backs on him, so he’s returning the favor.
That was the overarching sentiment from the former Mets and Yankees World Champion in an interview with WABC Radio on Tuesday, saying that he’s choosing the Bronx Bombers over their Queens counterparts because the latter doesn’t respect the players from the 1986 team.
“The players on the ’86 championship team, we don’t even deal with the Mets. It’s not Fred Wilpon, it’s the new thing,” hinting at an issue with the Sandy Alderson-led front office. “I’d never go back, I’d rather stay with the Yankees than ever go back to the Mets.”
Strawberry praised the late George Steinbrenner, seemingly appreciative of the second chance he got with the organization after years of off-the-field issues.
“He was a father, he was a father to the hopeless,” Strawberry said. “He would go get players that nobody else would touch. He just loved us. He was different than anybody I’d ever experienced.
“He was probably the greatest owner that ever will be in sports because he loved people and loved his players. Everyone that put a Yankee uniform on is family to him. He doesn’t turn his back on his players, like the other organization across town.”
The former outfielder hinted that it pained him to see the team seemingly sever relationships with some of the championship team’s biggest names.
“It hurts us. It hurts what they’ve done to players,” he said. “I’ve seen what they did to Ray Knight, what they did to Gary Carter. It really hurts. Those were key players that gave so much. They laid their life out for the organization.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Strawberry from returning to Citi Field as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the 1986 championship team last year.
A Mets source pointed out that several members of that championship squad are currently employed by the organization. Beloved broadcasters Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling have been a part of the SNY booth since the network’s inception in 2006, and Tim Teufel and Mookie Wilson are both still working in the organization.
That also doesn’t include Doc Gooden, who makes select appearances on behalf of the Mets, along with Bobby Ojeda, Howard Johnson, Gary Carter and Wally Backman, who have all worked for the team in various capacities over the years.
However, the organization’s relationship with Backman — a fan favorite — quickly soured after he was not retained at the end of last season despite several success runs as manager of the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate. Johnson was also let go from his post as hitting coach in 2011, while Teufel was reassigned from his coach’s job on the major league ballclub to a minor league position.
But for Mets fans, Strawberry’s verbal assault on the organization is just the latest blow in a dismal 2017 season.
With Kristie Ackert