Jeff, our friend Chad, Charles, Jeff Wilpon, Me, My Father, and our friend Gianni at Citi Field, March 2009.
A few minutes ago, I got off the phone with the Mets ticket office. I had called a few weeks back in order to request an upgrade to the Saturday ticket plan I've had since 2001 (when I was 17). That Saturday plan started out in Loge Reserved, Section 28 at Shea. By 2008, we had moved closer to the infield and were in Section 22. After the 2008 season, after my friends (Jeff and Charles, pictured above) and I had spent nearly all of our disposable income watching the Mets falter down the stretch again, we had to sit on the sidelines like pieces of trash while the Mets decided if we were going to be allowed to purchase a Saturday package (or if they were even going to exist) at Citi Field. Thinking back now, it's absurd that the Mets nearly shut all of the plan holders out. Back then, they still had a bit of leverage...something to sell. Right now, it's time for us to have leverage.
To get back to today's phone call...it wasn't about a potential upgrade for my Saturday package. It was to very politely inform the Mets that if they hired Bob Melvin to be their next Manager, my friends and I would not be renewing our tickets for next year. This isn't a choice I would've ever made on my own. The other two guys who purchase the package with me are the ones who informed me of their choice. I can't afford the tickets by myself, and even if I could, sitting there alone doesn't really appeal to me. We're not looking for adequacy, we're looking for excellence. We expect the front office to have the same mindset.
So, I made the call. It was h0nestly one of the toughest phone calls I've ever made. One of the hardest conversations I've ever had. The guy I spoke to was a ticket representative, not the type of guy who can directly impact Sandy Alderson's decision. What I asked him to do, for the sake of the organization, was to tell everyone in his department about my phone call. To have them tell employees who would filter that information to the people in the organization who care about losing millions of dollars after tons of other fans who are in my situation do the exact thing I'm threatening to do. The Mets employee informed me that he and others in his department have been getting lots of calls similar to mine, that they know how the fans feel.
Let me be clear: I do not want to cancel my tickets. I, alone, would not cancel my tickets if the Mets re-hired Art Howe. I would be furious, but the only thing that could make me cancel my tickets is if my friends pull out. And if the Mets hire Bob Melvin, that's exactly what they're going to do. Bob Melvin, from everything I've heard, is a good man. He's a smart man. He has experience Managing in the Major Leagues, but the best thing his supporters say about him is that he's average. AVERAGE? That's what this team is shooting for? Melvin would be an absolutely abysmal choice for this team at this point in time. He's been fired from his last two Major League managing jobs. People close to him say he doesn't want to deal with the media scrutiny in New York. People close to him also say he's not a fit for the New York market in general. Before the Mets job opened up, Bob Melvin interviewed to be the Major League manager for three other teams. No one hired him.
The Mets, from 2007-2010, have been a team that's lacked discipline, lacked a certain hunger to win. They've made mistakes on the field, and made mistakes off the field. They've had a serious leadership void. After 2009, the fans started to stay away. 2011 will most likely be a transition year, and that's fine. However, the fans need something to grab onto. They need someone in the dugout who offers them hope. Wally Backman does that. And to a lesser extent, Terry Collins and Chip Hale could as well. Bob Melvin? He's the only one of the remaining four candidates who would cause fans to CANCEL their tickets. Choosing him would cause, although a bit unfair, the fans to believe that nothing has really changed. The Mets cleaned out the front office, and fired Jerry. They replaced Omar's group with three brilliant individuals. If those individuals hire Bob Melvin, it will be seen as not just a safe and uninspired choice, but a slap in the face to the fans who support this team monetarily. For those who ask how we can be happy with Alderson being hired, but unhappy with his Managerial choice, this is my response: Even smart people make bad decisions.
During the conversation I had with the employee from the Mets, I was as calm as could be. I apologized several times for the fact that he had to take the brunt of my anger. I informed him that it's not the fairweather fans who the Mets were going to lose, it's the fans who have been there in good times, bad times, and awful times. Like in 1993, when I was 9 years old and the Mets were horrendous. I wanted to go to a game to see Sid Fernandez pitch because I loved the team and the season was about to end. So I begged my father and we went. I told the employee from the Mets that I would never stop being a Mets fan, that I wouldn't care any less. I would simply not be contributing one cent to the team.
These tickets mean a lot to my friends and I. Going to a Mets game isn't just about sitting there and watching the Mets. It's a way to hang onto our childhood. In 1983, I was born into being a Mets fan. Most of my earliest memories are Mets related. Aside from moments with my family and friends, most of my fondest memories are Mets related. My Grandfather is the reason everyone in my family is a Mets fan. He was born in 1913, and became a die hard Brooklyn Dodgers fan. When they moved to Los Angeles, he was devastated. In 1962, the Mets arrived and he was whole again. I learned to love the game of baseball and respect the game by observing him as he watched the Mets, by listening to all of his stories. He passed away in 2008. Like my Grandfather, I will never stop being a Mets fan. I will never stop caring about them. I will never stop hanging on every pitch, waiting for that next incredible moment.
Now is the time for the Mets to go all the way, to take a chance. The fans, who have been there no matter what, need something to grab a hold of. We know it's the players who have the greatest influence on wins and losses, but it's the Manager who is responsible for keeping those players focused, firing them up, standing up for them. Art Howe, Willie Randolph, and Jerry Manuel didn't do that. We don't think Bob Melvin will either. Don't hire the person who you know will do things adequately, hire someone who you think can do something special.