Meaningless Games

By Taryn “the Coop” Cooper

I see no conflict of interest here. Move along, nothing to see here…

Remember several years ago, when the term “meaningful games in September” was floating around Metsopotamia.  We’ve had a few good laughs over that ill-advised statement in 2004 by our fearless owner, Fred Wilpon.

But duking it out for fourth place with the Marlins (admittedly, a team with much higher expectations than the Mets had at the beginning of the season)…it doesn’t get more meaningless than this.  (except if you ask Terry Collins.  This was like a playoff victory…when you’re on hallucinogenic drugs…thanks Metstradamus!).

I guess when Howard Jones sang “Things Can Only Get Better,” he was looking at the Mets and seeing that there was just over a week left of baseball to play in the most meaningless season.  Though, I have to say, as bad as things have been this year, we’ve had some good memories, like the no-hitter, bringing back Banner Day, David Wright potentially breaking Ed Kranepool’s hit record and RA Dickey’s amazing season.

Yet at the same time, what do we have to look forward to?

More of the same.

I keep reiterating the same idea during our podcasts, because ultimately the conversation turns to the team on the field.  And I say, “Garbage rolls from downhill.”  The only constant is change.  And the only thing that has not changed about the Mets is their ownership.

And sorry Howard Jones, things are not getting any better.

Look at RA Dickey’s amazing season.  Now, I think we can make arguments for keeping him around or letting him go…but he’s a knuckleballer.  You keep that shit around and work it till he’s ready to retire.  And he’s not expensive (nor do I think he’ll ask for lots of money, just years).

He’s probably gonna be gone.

David Wright has a club option for 2013.  I could easily see them exercise it then trade him.  One part would be sad for me to see David Wright go.  As hard as I’ve been on him as a fan, there’s nothing he doesn’t do for this team.  The other part knows that he deserves better.

We can point till we’re blue in the fact about how the Mets haven’t exactly **won** anything with Wright either.  And to that end, that would be correct.  But look at the evidence.  David Wright and Jose Reyes were players to build AROUND, any other team would have found a way to consistently win with them on the team and find ways to keep them around for years.  The Mets of course proved futile in that respect.

Just a few days, the post-modern Dick Young, Adam Rubin, suggested that Ike Davis and Jonathon Niese could be on the trading block.  Davis, apparently, parties too hard (he’s a single guy living and working in New York City, so you know THAT’S a problem…), and has fallen out of favor with Mets management.  Fallen out of favor how exactly?  He started off the year slow, but is smacking the crap out of the ball, plays defense better than average and fans LOVE him.  Sure, let’s trade him!!

I know that in this environment, no one should be considered untouchable.  But Ike Davis, Jon Niese?  Let’s go watch them become superstars on another team?

Like THAT hasn’t happened before (Hi, Rusty Staub, Nolan Ryan, etc etc).

The idea here is that building a team has not been a Mets general managers’ strength since, well, the beginning of time basically.

This is a positive of Sandy Alderson and he’s not being given the opportunity to use the resources he has to make the team better OR use the resources that ownership has to enhance it.

That’s because the owners HAVE NONE.   Or rather, not enough to improve the team.

Look, I know they’re not rolling in the dough, but they’re not exactly bankrupt.  But running a big market baseball team takes a little of putting your big boy pants on and doing what’s best.  And for Mets fans, that is…

Mr. Wilpon.  SELL THIS TEAM!!!

Michael Powell today wrote a piece for the New York Times that’s being circulated amongst Mets fans, about how this season has questioned loyalty among fans.  I disagree.  I don’t see how this season is different from any other season.  NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Every fan has questioned their loyalty at some juncture of rooting for the Mets, but the reality is, we won’t go anywhere.  Maybe we won’t be as visible at Mets games, especially now when meaningless games are being played in September, but we’ll still be there one way or another.  I understand the philosophy of asking why should someone support a product that the owners are too stupid to sell or realize that they can’t better it?  Why should they?

So why is this season worse?

Well, we lost Jose Reyes last year, though I was prepared for it.  Turns out we could either finish in last place with him or fourth place without him.  Pick your poison.

Now the idea of losing David Wright?  Trading Ike Davis or Jon Niese?  No matter how the good turn around or prospects?

Yeah.  That’s gonna question loyalty.  Because it shows that the Mets are planning to be bad for a very long time.  To reword, not planning to be better either.

I’m not writing this to say “You are not a fan if…” or “You can only be a fan if…”  Only you can decide that.  I am a Mets fan, for better or for worse.  I believe most fans of most fanbases say that, though, no matter how bad things are.  I was at a Cubs game last week…their fans are as loyal as they come (and get this…the better team is on the South Side of Chicago…and the better team is STILL second team in that city!).  Mets fans have it bad though.  They share a city with a successful team and often take that second team identity to heart.

But pretty soon, the second team identity isn’t going to be enough.

It’s funny, my dad in the offseason said, “I think the Mets are gonna surprise us…they’ll be worse than we think.”  I think they played to the level of a team that has no resources to improve itself in the short to medium term.

Fighting for fourth place isn’t meaningful, it’s not an improvement, and it’s certainly not anything to be proud of.  And it’s not getting any better, as far as I can see.

I’ve been asked why I keep watching games.  Because I know that in a few days, the Mets won’t be playing anymore.  Because baseball for my team will be over.  And that no matter how bad they are, I’ll still miss it when it’s not around.

But that’s what they’re banking on.  Fans like me who are gluttons for punishment.  I don’t think that people are willing participants anymore.  Or will be, for that matter.

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