The Long Spring

The first two months of this baseball season has made me reach down to find newfound levels of patience of a baseball fan that I was not sure I possessed.  It’s been written about what plagues this franchise and every Mets fan this year has gone through that point where you wanted to whip your laptop through your television screen.  Or maybe just me?  Shameless plug, but our every Thursday, “Kult of Mets Personalities Podcast” (9PM on!) has given a nice venue to vent and get it all out of the system with fellow Mets fans and great writers, players, authors, etc. from the Mets universe.   Really, this year, it’s been much more like an Alcohol Annoynmous meeting.

As I’ve written on here and said ad nauseum, I am a very patient baseball fan.  I do fly off the handle at times but I’ve been let down so often that I’m desensitized to pain.  But when you really sift through the baseball season so far, you will find that things are truly on the upside.  Sitting at 28-31, you might think I sound completely crazy, but the worm is turning at Ebbett’s, I mean Citi Field.

Terry Collins was a hot button issue coming into 2011, while many Mets fans clamored for Wally Backman.  Terry has done some things in-game that leave me scratching my head, to the point where I’ve compared him to a drunk guy playing black jack ­who hasn’t been to the table in a while.  But think about where things would be in this season with Jerry Manuel or Willie Randolph at the helm.  His refusal to let this team’s spirit die along with his ability to squeeze every ounce of talent out of young players are the two only reasons outside of Jose Reyes’ play that this team is still 28-31.

We’ve all dissected from every angle why these injuries keep happening to this team.  Terry Collins has stressed better fundamentals and the front office has pushed better conditioning and medical preparation, but this has hit a point where it is just a black cloud.  No way around that.  That is where the difference lies in that this team has not folded up and made golf plans.  The 8th inning letdowns, not withstanding.  But this team has played their tail off and without playing a total game of what-if, they should be over 500.

This year has been looked at as the year of transition into better payroll flexibility (David Einhorn?), possibly new ownership, possibly a new face of the franchise, and possibly a very new look come 2012.  While trades of Carlos Beltran and K-Rod may be difficult and still likely, I am saying that Jose Reyes will be a part of this team long-term.  And if I am wrong, he will still be a Met through at least 2011 because this regime has no problem taking draft picks for losing a free agent.  2011 is a transition in many ways, but Terry Collins has not taken that cushion and ran with it.  The guy has managed with purpose and he has managed to permeate the culture in that clubhouse that was the single biggest problem during the Jerry Manuel era.

I am not just done a big baseball fan, but follow all sports.  Of course, I do not want to see the Mets fail, but we all know that many issues and mis-managements have gotten us to where we are now.  But the one thing, I learned in sports is that sometimes simple mediocrity does not always lead to swift action.  Sometimes, you need to have things really bottom out.  Of course, the Mets have managed to bottom out in sensational fashion, but when you piss off a fan base to the extent that this ownership has, changes will be made.

The one thing that everybody in the game of baseball was in agreement on in the off-season was that Sandy Alderson and his crew were the guys to get this turned around.  People were not as sold on Terry Collins, but I think the marriage of those two is exactly what this team needs, especially for the sake of developing young talent, which will be the most paramount initiative for the New York Mets.

Of course, I’m writing this as the draft is kicking off and besides being creeped out by how awful Bud Selig is on the mic, it is a very very important night to get this new regime off the ground.  One note that has been covered a lot on our podcast is the misconception that Omar Minaya left the farm system in shambles.  It is not the best in baseball, and is not extremely deep, but the cupboard is not bare and the farm has stepped up this season immensely.

While fans become cynical and media lines up to bash our beloved team, things are not as horrible as they seem.  I do truly believe this team can still contend for the wildcard and gasp, the division if things break right.  Division is a stretch I know.  And as I referenced before, look to other sports about how you can turn around a franchise, ie New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts….and even the Philadelphia Phillies.  Sometimes it can be like trying to turn around a cruise ship on a dime, and certain times it can be a quick process.

But the most important thing is to have an organizational philosophy.  While Omar had his moments in scouting and left them with some young players that I do really like, he never had an organizational philosophy and I certainly know that the Wilpons did not either, unless you consider bumbling every public relations opportunity and making yourself a mockery an organizational philosophy.

I do believe that Sandy Alderson has a plan, and I believe that Terry Collins has the ability to implement it.  And I certainly believe that from what I’ve read about David Einhorn, if he becomes minority and eventually principle owner that he has the pockets and the brains to sit at the helm of it.

Changes are coming to Citi Field.  It might have been a long spring, and possibly a long summer, but I see a future with a plan in place and the ability to execute it.  The brief mid 2000’s success was a mirage and forced the team into not putting the proper infrastructure in place while blowing money on awful contracts and putting band-aids on potholes.

That will change and hey, maybe tonight we get a future star pitcher to pair with Matt Harvey (and Big Pelf, Niese, and Gee).


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