Tuesday, May 24, 2011
At this point, there's no need to recap Fred Wilpon's quotes that appeared in the recent issues of the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. All Mets fans and most casual baseball fans are well aware of what was said. The question most have , is how do we interpret these quotes? After being completely sane all of his life, has Fred Wilpon gone mad? The comments he made to Jeffrey Toobin were cleared by Wilpon to appear in the article, so he certainly wanted people to read them. Ditto for the quotes in Sports Illustrated about the team's financial issues.
So, what's the deal here? Some think that Fred simply let loose during a casual conversation while watching a game. Others think he planted the quotes to attract attention to a positive story about the Bernard Madoff situation, and some people believe he made the quotes in order to set the stage for drastic player moves - to gauge the fanbase's reaction of his critique's of the team's cornerstone players before acting.
At this point, I don't give a damn why the quotes were made. I don't believe they were as salacious as they're being made out to be. I don't think Wilpon actually "ripped" his players, as the beat writers would have you believe. But I do think airing his grievances in public at this point in time was a huge mistake. A mistake that has taken the focus off the baseball field (where the Mets have one of the best records in the National League over the past month), and placed it firmly on the front office and the coming reaction from the clubhouse. Instead of reading about a team that's persevering and playing hard, we're reading about how quickly that team is about to be torn apart by trades.
If trades (most specifically the trade of Jose Reyes) are on the horizon, what can the fanbase do to prevent them? We certainly can't sit in on meetings with the Wilpon's and the front office and offer our advice. We can't reach out to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran and David Wright, and let them know how much we value them as members of the team. And we can't call up the other 29 teams in baseball and order them to not trade for Jose Reyes and/or the other players we want to stay.
So, what can we do?
Mets fans who have partial ticket plans (I've had one for 11 years) and full season plans need to band together. This isn't meant to be a slight on fans who support the team in other ways (or from afar), but the only thing that can get the attention of ownership is the thought of more money slipping out of their hands. And money is exactly what ticket holders represent and provide. I'd imagine most of us want the team to keep Jose Reyes. I don't care what the reason would be for letting Jose Reyes go. People can speculate until their heads fall off, it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that Reyes stays. What do we do?
At every game we attend, we each bring a sign. That sign should be as follows:
Account Number: 469***
Years I've had my ticket plan: 11
Amount of seats in my plan: 4
If Jose Reyes goes, my money goes with him.
...the sign is simple and to the point.
The next game I attend will be May 31st against Pittsburgh. I'll have that exact sign with me.
No one knows whether or not ownership will give a damn if we all show up with those signs. No one knows if it will change the way they're thinking. What I do know is this: There's no way in hell we can sit idly by and allow the team to get rid of Jose Reyes. We need to make our voices heard, and make ownership realize what the consequences will be if they deal Jose Reyes.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
The following is not going to be a post that discusses the Mets' chances of reaching the 2011 Postseason, and it's certainly not going to be a post that claims the Mets are likely to reach the 2011 Postseason. Rather, it will be a post that asks what if?
The Mets are 21-22, a robust 16-9 since their awful start. They sit 4 games out of the Wild Card (behind Florida). That awful start seemed like a bit of an anomaly then - the starting pitching and the bullpen alternated between being terrible, resulting in the majority of those losses. Since the pitching has come around, so has the team (despite the short term losses of both Ike Davis and David Wright).
As I stated above, I don't expect the Mets to make the Playoffs in 2011. I expect (as I've stated since Spring Training) for the team to win somewhere between 84 and 88 games, which would likely leave them a few games short. However, what if?
Back in 2006, the Mets waltzed through the regular season. Making the Playoffs was never in question, the only question was how far they would go once they got in. Most people conveniently forget that the 2006 squad was dealt two major blows right before the NLDS against Los Angeles began (losing Orlando Hernandez and Pedro Martinez for the year), after losing Duaner Sanchez in late July. They entered the Playoffs undermanned, and bowed out in 7 games to a flawed Cardinals team that won 83 games during the regular season. There's no doubt in my mind that a full strength 2006 Mets team makes the World Series, and likely wins it. But they weren't full strength, and they didn't make it.
I remember the feeling of jubilation I had at Shea when the Mets clinched the Division, the elation and explosion that I felt when they clinched a trip to the NLCS after closing out the Dodgers. And I remember standing in Shea, as if I was experiencing some kind of out of body experience, half expecting the Upper Deck to collapse after Endy's catch. It was an incredible feeling each time, but not one that was borne out of surprise.
Since 2006, everyone knows what's befallen this team. The actual collapse of 2007, the Wagner-less collapse of 2008, the injury riddled misery that was 2009, and the mediocre year that was 2010. Fairly or not, the Mets have been made out to be a laughingstock, even though they're not one. They've been spat upon, disrespected, and snickered at. Before the 2011 season, they were left for dead by the local and national media. After they started 5-13, some in the media wondered if they'd lose 100 games.
I'm sure if the 2006 Mets made it to the World Series, I would've gone absolutely insane - along with the rest of the fans who've been waiting for this for a hell of a long time. Seeing them in the Playoffs in 2007 and/or 2008 would've been great. But to make the Playoffs this year? After being disrespected by everyone, after getting asked by strangers why you're wearing a Mets hat, after dealing with pompous Yankee fans who have basically the same record as the Mets with a Payroll that's $80 million dollars higher? That'd be a feeling that would have to be experienced to realize the potential magnitude of it.
Again, this is not about expectations. It's not about making a crazy boast regarding a 21-22 team. It's simply about imagining it. If nothing else, a Playoff run by the 2011 Mets would ensure that Jose Reyes remains a Met through the end of the season - and likely re-signs. It would take the focus off the ridiculously overblown Madoff issue. It would allow us to enjoy Carlos Beltran for at least a few more months. It would shut up every local and national writer who can't wait to type that next article bashing the Mets, no matter how absurd or out of line that article is. Think about it: We've seen articles this year claiming that Jose Reyes was to blame for being incorrectly called out at 3rd base because he slid. That's how absurd the coverage of this team has become.
Imagine the 2011 Mets clinching a Playoff spot at Citi Field on September 28th against the Reds, or any day before that. Think about how sweet it would be, how satisfying it would be, to see this team go absolutely berserk on the field after the way the last 4 years have played out. After the way they were talked about before the 2011 season began. In order for that to be a possibility, they'll have to get Ike Davis and David Wright back when they're supposed to (about a week and change from now). If those two are out long-term, regardless of how gritty the fill-ins have played, the team is probably screwed. But Davis and Wright should be back soon.
Ever since the Mets moved from Shea Stadium to Citi Field, there hasn't been one single game where the crowd energy was even close to how it was at Shea. Maybe it's because the fans are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, maybe it's the acoustics of the new place, perhaps it's the fact that so many fans are always walking around and not paying attention to the game - or some combination of all three. I can guarantee one thing, though. If the first Playoff game at Citi Field is this season - whether it's Game 1 or Game 3 - the Shea noise will be there. The electricity will be there.
The fans who stuck with this team after pretty much everyone was telling them they were crazy for doing so will be in those seats. Personally, the Mets making the Playoffs in 2011 would be more satisfying than a 2006 World Championship would've been. Simply because of what the team and the fans have been through, and what rising up and making it all the way back this season would mean to them and us. I yearn for a cool September afteroon or night where David and Jose once again puff away on their victory cigars, while dumping champagne on each-other and the fans. It's why I keep watching, why I keep going. I know the team has it in them. Just imagine what it would feel like if they made it happen.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
It's been all over the place the last few days. It's been on blogs, on ESPN, and on Twitter. It's even been uttered by Gary Cohen in the SNY booth: What are the Mets going to do with Jose Reyes? If they decide to trade him, when will they pull the trigger? Who are his suitors? What can they get in return? It's becoming exceedingly difficult to ignore the avalanche of speculation that's been thrown around recently regarding Jose Reyes. It's beginning to anger most Mets fans, who know from watching him play over the last 9 seasons that Jose Reyes should go absolutely nowhere. So, what is there to do?
You can believe that Sandy Alderson - he of the Ivy league education and decades of experience as an executive in Major League Baseball, is a moron. Then you can go ahead and believe that everyone who's advising Sandy Alderson is also a complete moron. After convincing yourself of those two things, you'll have to convince yourself that the owners of the Mets have no interest in drawing fans, selling merchandise, or generating revenue in any other way. No, they'd rather go bankrupt. You'll have to believe that Fred and Jeff Wilpon and whoever the minority ownership consists of are willing to watch the New York Mets franchise spiral into oblivion. The above isn't believable, is it? Well, it would take an army of morons and owners with no interest in making money to let Jose Reyes leave the Mets. The prior sentence is why I believe this is all media speculation, and why I reject their hypothesis.
Take the following into account:
-Jose Reyes is 27 years old. He is one of the most dynamic offensive players in baseball (currently on pace to hit .313 with a .363 OBP with 100 runs scored, 219 Hits, 52 Doubles, 16 Triples, and 57 Stolen Bases). As if that isn't enough, he plays a prime position (Shortstop) at a Gold Glove level. That's the strictly on field stuff. Contrary to what people like to say, this is not an "all legs" player who will deteriorate as soon as he begins to lose a bit of his speed. This is a once in a generation talent, not Tony Womack.
-Along with David Wright, Jose Reyes is the face of the Mets. He is the one player fans come to the ballpark always excited to see (sans a healthy Johan Santana). The team markets itself around Reyes and Wright. In the face of the Madoff situation (even with how unfairly the Media have smeared the Wilpon's), sagging attendance, and the poor on field performance of 2009 and 2010, letting Jose Reyes go would be ridiculous. It would be even more ridiculous for the Mets to let him go during or after the 2011 season cosidering....
-The Mets have at least $40 million dollars coming off the books after this season (close to $60 million if Francisco Rodriguez's option doesn't vest). If there was any offseason where the Mets have payroll flexibility, it's the upcoming one. With all of that money coming off the books, and the new minority ownership scheduled to be finalized in the next few weeks, it's clear that the Mets can afford to pay Jose Reyes. Big market teams do not let franchise players in their prime (who also happen to be the face of that respective franchise) walk out the door (nor do they trade them). I invite anyone to find one example of a healthy player 28 or younger with the stature of Reyes who was discarded by his large market team.
...To recap, there is no reason to even begin to consider trading Jose Reyes. There is no reason to let him leave via Free Agency. That conclusion can be reached by simply looking at his stats. When you combine those stats with the impact he has in the clubhouse, and the fan mutiny that would be caused if the Mets let him go, it becomes unfathomable that the Mets could be that shortsighted.
I'll again state that I reject the media's hypothesis. The Mets don't have to trade Jose Reyes, the Mets don't want to trade Jose Reyes, and the Mets won't trade Jose Reyes. They'll re-sign him, because it makes no sense not to.