Happy 2011 to all the Kiner’s Korner readers. I wish I could pretend that I am recently back from a holiday vacation or retreat, but no that is not the case. The 2011 Mets have left me with little to write about at this juncture. On the podcasts, we have sunk our teeth into a wide array of topics, but I have check swung on a bunch of ideas for columns because frankly I was boring myself halfway thru writing them. Thankfully, we have a lot of very talented and entertaining bloggers on this site. Hat tip to Ed Leyro for some great recent columns, as well as Coop’s most recent post about Bobby Bonilla and his deferred money. And Taryn, you had me at the fact that I am on board with any reference to “Brewster’s Millions,” but it was an absolutely well written column.
In my first few postings to this site, I have made no bones about that the fact that I am completely down with what Sandy and the front office is doing at this point. Being a native NJ’er, and having just listened to Governor Christie’s first State of the State Address, the parallels between the two entities are very similar. Before you hem and haw and think this I’m just another proud NJ’er trying to keep my state trending, hear me out.
New Jersey, despite what public perceptions and criticisms there may be, is a state that has “succeeded” in spite of its absolutely horrific business practices. The state has managed to stay viable and have many great areas to live and raise families, as well as vibrant yuppy towns and great beach towns. And on top of that, New Jerseyans are fiercely proud, and will stand behind the state no matter what. However, all the years of complacency, poor business practices, burying problem areas led the state on the verge of ruins. Let me preface this next statement by saying I am not one side or the other when it comes to politics….actually politics usually irritate me, and I just want somebody who can do the job. Governor Christie has come into office, and while not always handling things perfectly, has faced and acknowledged the problems head on. Most importantly, though, he has declared that cuts and layoffs are going to have to be enacted in certain areas that are not popular, but fiscal responsibility and sacrifice are needed to ensure that the state is back on track economically in the future.
Now that Poli Sci 101 is over with…..I come back to the Mets. Think about it, the Mets have managed to keep a rabid fan base in place while raising ticket prices, falling short, watching rival teams/markets have sustained success, and be absolutely stagnant in progressive baseball thinking (scouting, advanced stats, training techniques, front office philosophy). Sports are supposed to be a way to escape real life for a few hours and watch games, or talk shop at a bar over a few beers. For Mets fans, our team is a source of constant angst, ridicule from others, and shattered dreams. But we keep coming back for more and more torture because the thought of that silly apple rising up for a dramatic home run in the World Series in year 2016 or having that first moment in a playoff game where the stands of Citi Field shake is worth it.
But much like NJ, the Mets had the luxury of even despite serious fundamental flaws in business and operational practices, they had people still willing to come and support it. And like NJ, you can only bury problems for so long before time catches up. The last two years, Mets fans finally had enough, and ownership acknowledged that things were F’ed up.
As I have discussed in other posts, the splashes were made in the front office to solidify the organizational infrastructure. Sandy Alderson has come in and said that fiscal restraint is needed in this time to get out from under some awful contracts. As we sit on 1/11/11….I am confident that a lot of Mets fans thought that Sandy would buck a bit and feel inclined to add some decently significant payroll to appease the radio callers and fans who are critical. And I respect that he did not give in to that, and instead has just been honest about what the plan. Living surrounded by the Yanks and Phils, it is very easy to get enticed into being foolish with spending to try and live some pipe dream that is not realistic.
If Paulino, Capuano, Carrasco, and Bucholz (and not even CLAY!) are the headlines of the off-season, so be it. This is a very spotty free agent class ina year where MONEY NEEDS TO COME OFF…and this front office will not make a trade to throw a dagger in the farm system just for the sake of doing. These are all great things.
It does not seem like it at the time, and maybe I am too much of an optimist or I am too eager to stick by my team through thick and thin, but I really do see a near future of things crystallizing. Things in sports can turn very quick. The Mets (especially when these contracts come free) are armed with a big checkbook, their own network, a great stadium and a rabid fan base. If you combine this with a farm system that can produce ready made affordable talent and trade chips, you have a beautiful palette to work with. And though, 2006 seems like a long time ago, I constantly remind the Mets to look at the San Francisco Giants. They have a much smaller checkbook to work with, and they did things the right way with pitching and homegrown talent and sprinkled in some free agents who panned out…boom WORLD SERIES. I’m not saying that is the blueprint for every team, but crazy things can happen.
So we wait for maybe one or two more low risk/high ceiling signings, and hope for a little life at Citi Field to get a good vibe back, then maybe some more fans in the building, and try to get some of that lost magic back. This team and fan base has been through trauma. Before anybody thinks about post seasons and long term success, trust needs to be restored between front office, team and fans.
Right now, less is more, and the team absolutely has my trust that they have put the right people in place. My hopes for 2011 are very tempered, and I really would be happy just to see life in Citi Field and sound baseball on the field to carry over the good feelings to 2012. Anything more would be house money for me.
But just like my hometown state, the first phase was acknowledging the issues and taking them head on, and most importantly, being honest with the fans about the problems. From there, they have been honest about what their planned solutions are. It does not grab headlines, but I applaud Sandy for avoiding spending like Montgomery Brewster would, because less is more…
And on one final note…I would like to wish a very happy birthday to my brother and my best friend in the world, Mike. Also, a congratulations on the birth of his son and my nephew a few days ago. My brother is the one who got me into the Mets at a very young age, so I thank him and hate him at the same time for the heartache jk! But we have a new generation of Faz to join the ranks of Mets fans…poor little guy has no idea what he is in store for. Love ya Mike…
I will put up a separate link for our podcast tonight at 11 PM on Blog Talk Radio…peace