Sunday, October 17, 2010
#647) CLIFF FLOYD
Cliff Floyd became a New York Met when he signed as a free agent on December 20, 2002. The club in an effort to rebound from a last-place finish had also signed pitchers Tom Glavine and Mike Stanton only days earlier. "There's no reason that we shouldn't be at the top of the N.L. East at the end of the season," Floyd said. He also expressed gratitude to be in a true baseball city, "To me it's all about the fan support. When the fans come out and show you some love it feels good. You play for the fans and you want to have support."
Cliff's positive attitude and strong personality made him a quick favorite of the fans and players. Injuries slowed his production, but he tied for the team lead in home runs with 18 despite ending his 2003 season on August 19th due to an achilles injury.
On July 21, 2004, the Mets brought up a promising young rookie who developed an almost instant friendship with the veteran Floyd. From the beginning David Wright had the assignment of carrying Cliff's Louis Vuitton luggage along with a constant barrage of good natured ribbing. In exchange the outfielder would buy David new suits. "He's got to deal with it," Floyd said. "All of it. It's good for him. And the better he does, the more I am going to give him to do. He will carry my bags as long as I'm here. I read his fan mail sometimes- girls are asking to marry him - and it makes me sick. One of these days, I swear I'm going to smack him."
The 2005 season was an injury free one for Cliff. He responded with tremendous offensive numbers and led the Mets in home runs with 34, and drove in 98 runs. The left-handed slugger recorded a 20-game hititng streak between April 8th to May 4th, and ended the year with a .273 batting average. "It's not an excuse, but when you're not healthy and sitting on the sidelines, it's not fun," Floyd said. "But now I'm just having fun and enjoying myself. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that."
His ability to stay on the field was not as successful in 2006. Cliff played in the lowest total of games in a season of his Mets career with only 97 appearances. He missed most of June with a sprained left ankle and then most of August with a left achilles tendinitis. His self assumed role of mentor now included a young Lastings Milledge. "In spring training, Cliff showed me the ropes. And when we talk sometimes, I feel like we're the same person. We relate." Lastings offered.
"Marquis Grissom, Delino DeShields, Randy Milligan, Ken Hill—these guys helped make me who I am," Floyd said. "It's like parenting. They allowed me to grow into who I am, but they didn't tell me to do things. They just told me about the consequences of my actions. And it made a big difference. When talking with younger guys, I've always said that the less spoken, the better. You have to pick your times to give them that boost."
As the New York Mets found themselves clinching the 2006 National League Eastern Division title it was Cliff Floyd who caught the final out of the game at Shea Stadium. Coaches had suggested that the left fielder be removed for defensive purposes, but were overruled by manager Willie Randolph. "Cliff deserved to be out there," Randolph explained. "I loved catching it, so I'm glad he left me in," Floyd responded.
Cliff's last at-bat in a Mets uniform came in the deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship series. Coming on as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning he would strike out looking against St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, Adam Wainwright. Rather than bunting with runners on and no outs the slugger was essentially asked to hit a three-run home run. "Man, that was a long walk back to the dugout, it was like walking through Yellowstone Park," he recalled. "And I thought about bunting anyway, it crossed my mind."
New York signed free agent outfielder, Moises Alou for the 2007 season. Essentially ending Floyd's time with the Mets. "I'm so close to Cliff, it won't feel right without him," David Wright said after learning of Alou's addition. "He and I have text-messaged a few times. Not about baseball. I guess he had an idea this could happen. That doesn't make it easy. We have a special bond. I hate to see him go."
The former high school standout at Thornwood High School returned to his hometown of Chicago when he signed a free agent contract with the Cubs on January 24, 2007.
Cliff joined the staff of radio station 790 The Ticket in Florida and has become a weekend host. "I don't know where it's going to go, but to get comfortable with it doesn't hurt," Floyd said.
Cliff Floyd signed his card in the set for John DeMeo at the BrandsMart Store in Sunrise, Florida on September 25, 2010.