As the Tri-State area and the rest of the Northeast breaks our backs shoveling out snow, one can’t help but turn our thoughts to the spring and summer. Warm weather, skimpy swimwear, and of course baseball.
We all look forward to that crack of the bat, as Chipper Jones hits another game winner out to the Pepsi Porch.
Wait, let’s try that again.
We wait in anticipation to the sound of the ball hitting the glove, as Beltran strikes out looking to a Joe Johnson fastball.
Hold on, something’s off here.
Er, we tremble in anticipation at the thought of an Epic four game series vs Philadelphia as Lee, Holliday, Hamels, and Oswalt complete the 4 game sweep at Citifield.
Oops. I think I just killed Mr. Met.
The train of thought above is not unusual for those who bleed Orange and Blue. The Mets have been bleeding for years now, trying to bandage and patch up different cuts and scrapes since 2006.
The fan base have not fared much better. There is no need to go through the decade in detail, but a start that saw the Yankees celebrating at Shea ended with a whimper at Citifield in 2010.
2 playoff appearances.
4 General Managers.
We’ve been hit with Meaningful Games, Skills Set, New Mets, Los Mets, Madeoff, Sipping Sweet Champagne, Grandpa Art, Too Sexy Mrs Anna Clause, 10 Minutes Zambrano, Inconsistent Ollie, Destuctable El Duque, Rehabbing Pedro, Choker Armando, Disguised Valentine, 1 vs 24 Phillips, Black Friday Sales Duquette, Kazmir Conspiracies, Krod Family KOs, Oral Consented Surgeries vs Written Consented Surgeries, Cross Country Concussion Riders, Gangstas, the Zen of Peterson, Shirtless Minor League Coordinators, GM’s calling out Beat Writers, and add in your favorite scandals of the past decade. The one who puts in the most gets a free bottle of Rolaids.
Our “Ya Gotta Believe” spirit is if not gone, extremely weak. The biggest issue lies at the top, with the Wilpons. No, this is not going to be a Wilpons is Evil article, I’ll leave that to other bloggers.
The Wilpons though have not done a good job making fans want to be a part of the franchise. It’s one thing to be losing. Even Pittsburgh, who has gone a quarter century without a playoff appearance, still have fans despite the losing. The Wilpons have not done a good enough job connecting to the fans, making them believe that ownership wants a winner.
The idea they won’t is a fallacy, for the record. There is no logical reason for them to spend as much as they do and not want to win. If they didn’t care at all they would not be in the top 3 in spending for much of the past decade. If you want to believe they don’t want to win as fans I can buy into that, but as businessmen I don’t get why they wouldn’t want that additional revenue you get in winning. Ticket sales, playoff revenue, more ratings for SNY, and of course to paraphrase Yogurt from Spaceballs, “MOICHANDISING. Where the real money from winning is made!”
The problem is two fold. The issue really came to a head with Citifield. They hyped up the building for years. To finally open with so little Mets presence was not a mistake in and of itself. It was compounded by the fact that they did not properly explain to the fans how long it would take to have it completed into the Mets mosaic it is today. Opening it with just the Robinson Rotunda, which I believe was a great gesture, made fans feel like Fred was setting up a monument to the late Brooklyn Dodgers, and did not care about our beloved Mets. Whether he did or not is irrelevant. Image is everything.
The other issue comes from the common fan malaise of Coupon. It’s not so much how much is spent. Anyone who thinks that the Mets and Yankees are on equal footing financially does not understand the global power the Yankees brand is. It’s the fact that the money was not spent in critical areas where a drop more would matter. Like spending a few extra million in the draft the past few years. Or not getting one more reliever in 2007 when it was so desperately needed.
Since we are not inside the offices we have no idea if that was a decision by the GM or by the front office.
Which leads us to the current decade, and the revolution.
Many fans already have cast doubts on the new regime in place with Sandy Alderson. Mostly due to the budget causing an unusually slow winter. Fans have gotten used to in the post Phillips-Duquette era being able to get at least one big name an offseason, and barring a trade that won’t happen.
Sandy’s new system is giving me hope though. This is the first time that a Mets GM was hired outside the organization in over 25 years. This is the first time that the Wilpons, Fred and Jeff, are hearing a new way to run an organization. They have always stayed inside, always stayed within the Mets current system. That was a mistake, and they should be criticized for it.
With that said, we are now entering unknown territory. A whole generation of Mets fans, myself included, are going to witness a different managerial style. Not just from the dugout with Terry Collins, but at the GM side. We will finally know what we have wondered for a decade: How much is the fault of the owners, and how much is the fault of the general managers for the past decades mistakes?
If we see Sandy make decisions out of character from his previous regimes, but in line with what the Mets have repeately done in the past, we know the fault lies with the owners. If not, if he revolutionizes the way the Mets operate, then we can blame the GMs or at least credit the Wilpons for recognizing, albeit very belatedly, that a change in the system was needed.
So I’m resolving to set aside expectations for 1 year. I’m not expecting much good, but I’m not going to assume the worst is to come in 2011. I will take it as it comes. I will see if the right changes are implemented. If we see no money spent in the major league system, AND no money spent in the farm AGAIN, we know that the status quo will continue, and that the best we can hope for is the cycle of good teams and bad, never reaching the dynasty levels of the Yanks, Boston, and now Philly.
2011 though, with new ideas, comes new resolutions, new revolutions. What’s yours?
Posted by Robert Z