By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper
how can you say
I go about things the wrong way?”
~ Morrissey/The Smiths,
“How Soon Is Now?”
I was a guest on Paul Francis Sullivan’s show on Seamheads radio show, What’s on Second/Sully Baseball, last night, discussing the state of affairs with the Mets and baseball, there was even some Red Sox and 1986 Mets porn thrown in there as well. (I appear about 60 minutes into the clip)
Sully is a Red Sox fan, but is a keen observer of baseball in general. He even appeared in the Red Sox documentary on HBO a few years ago called “Reverse the Curse of the Bambino” (and it’s funny because I mostly quoted him and Denis Leary afterwards on the history of the Red Sox, and this was before he and I were ever friends), but he also writes for Baseball Digest on the Dodgers since he now lives in California.
In any case, we talked ad nauseum about the state of affairs with the Mets. I’ve come to the conclusion that 2006 was the aberration, the blip on the radar, for the New York Mets franchise, and was almost an accident that caused the state of affairs to be all mussed up today. Well, that and the state of finances for the Wilpon/Katz consortium and refusing the acknowledge that they need to sell the team. It’s one thing if they are not bankrupted; it’s totally another if they are not cash-flow friendly enough to make this team better. If their resources are dwindling that much, they need to sell the team if they cannot improve upon it. Our friend from Real Dirty Mets, Rusty Jr, makes a plea for them to sell the team today that is on the money. Read it.
Anyway, as Sully and I discussed, he made a keen observation about Mets fans. He said that after 2009, the Mets should have been blown up. I said it at the time, but people thought I was crazy. Yet, having the mentality of “we’re one or two players away from it all clicking” is a bad one to have, in my opinion. As Sully said, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in his prime aren’t coming back to that. But I distinctly remember just saying back up the flatbed to the outfield of CitiField and get everyone on, with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez leading the way. Doesn’t seem too crazy now, right?
Here’s the thing: it’s one thing to lose with overpaid and broken down veterans. It’s another to exploit the farm system and lose with the young guys. I don’t think this is a Mets-fan specific attitude, but it’s certainly one that I can identify with, is that we’d rather lose with the young guys around. Look at the year 2003, when Jose Reyes was brought up to placate the fan base during the dark days. Remember when Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Alomar were supposed to be the saviors of the team, only to be sold in a fire sale to promote the young talent? It didn’t matter that team was gawd-awful. We had something to look forward to: Jose Reyes and little buddy David Wright.
So what was the reluctance to losing with the young guys rather than letting go of the dead weight? I’m not saying we needed to trade Reyes or anything like that…but would it have been so bad to lose with Justin Turner, Josh Thole or Lucas Duda, as opposed to Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay or Luis Castillo? Losing is losing, but I feel like we might have been more receptive to it if we could see the talent in front of us and seeing them click together.
A song that helped define a generation of teen angst was The Smiths “How Soon Is Now?” They never ask that question in the song, but rather try to give an answer. After all, we’re just souls floating around looking for answers to whatever our belief system is. Yet, the question could apply to the Mets now. I feel kind of bad for Sandy Alderson because his bosses keep pulling the rug out from underneath him when he thinks he might have X amount of money to spend, it’s really X-Y. From his body language and even tone of voice on Sunday night, it was evident to me that he knew letting Reyes walk was a bad idea, but what could he do? On one hand, I agree that six years is too much right now. On the other, if he had signed a 10-year deal back in 2006, he’d still be under control for about the same amount of time. So this is a problem of poor planning. Now, because of circumstances out of his control, Alderson is once relegated to dumpster diving while the Wilpons eat filet mignon in their luxury box.
At the root of it now, we hear about all this talent clogging up the lower rungs of the minors, but AA and AAA are scarce. Of course one day the bottom rungs will be moving up the ladder and they’ll be Mets some day. I mean, that’s the way it’s going right now. For the immediate though, the “now” means we’ll be choosing to lose with the young guys as opposed to veterans. I guess that might be a good thing. Once upon a time, the Mets lost with guys like Mookie Wilson and Hubie Brooks who became fan favorites, while the team grew into a late-80s powerhouse. We lost with the young guys then, but looked forward to guys like Darryl Strawberry and Doc Gooden coming up one day. Now, we have to wait for Reese Havens, Matt Den Dekker, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Zach Wheeler and Matt Harvey to someday make their mark, and hopefully not be lovable losers. But how soon? Who knows. They’ll be ready when they’re ready, and it will be time for us to look forward to something.