Thursday, September 13, 2012
See that picture above? That's me. Not the angry looking guy on the left (that's my uncle), not the guy with the porn star mustache. And not the kid who's clearly eating cake before he should be (my brother). No, I'm the little guy on the shoulder of the guy with the porn star mustache (my father). The night is October 27th, 1986. It's my third birthday. My cake is a Mets jersey, and the Mets are about to win the World Series.
Fast forward to today. I just got home from work, and I'm exhausted. I'm sitting here almost at a complete loss for words. I'm a die-hard of the die-hards. Mets fan since birth, passed down from the roots of my Grandfather's Brooklyn Dodgers/Mets fandom. When I was little, I used to secretly listen to Bob Murphy broadcast west coast games on my walkman while pretending to be asleep. I mixed coffee grinds with gatorade in order to stay awake for the Playoffs in 1999. I've stood by this team through it all. The Mets are in my blood. At this moment, though, I'm extraordinarily close to losing my mind over the state the franchise is in both on and off the field. Instead of getting angry as the losses have mounted, I've found myself laughing maniacally like Jack Nicholson's joker as each miscue and missed opportunity contributes to a loss. Frankly, I'm getting numb to it all. I'm disappointed, disgusted, upset, and confused.
Before I go further, allow me to say the following: Over the years, I've been more of an optimist when it comes to the Mets - and it's reflected in my writing. I've tended to look at the bright side of things, while also trying to remain a realist. However, I've never shied away from blasting the team, the front office, or Ownership when I thought it was necessary. And recently, it's been necessary. Sandy Alderson's lack of foresight has been inexcusable, the team's lack of execution and hustle has been an embarrassment, and the fact that the organization is attempting to make its loyal fans play the fool has brought me to this point. I would never stop rooting for this team. But if the Mets don't get their act together soon, many others will.
2006 was a dream season that wasn't destined to end with a Championship. Both 2007 and 2008 ended in monumentally horrible fashion, but at least the team was in it in Game 162 each season. 2009 was an injury riddled nightmare. 2010, 2011, and 2012? Those seasons are a different story. The last three years have gone from bright to jet black as soon as the calendar turned to July. This season's version? They're attempting to have one of the worst second halves any team has ever had in its home ballpark. They're currently 4-21 at Citi Field during the second half of the season, which includes two nauseating 0-6 homestands. Their division rivals have more wins at Citi Field this half than the Mets do. It's so appallingly bad that it's almost not believable. I've witnessed it, though, so it's clearly happened.
I won't sit here and argue that the Mets have a roster that's Playoff caliber. They don't. Still, when a team goes 110 innings without scoring more than one run in an inning at home, I think it's fair to say that team has given up. And when a team gives up, it's a slap in the face to the fans who allow them to make millions of dollars playing a children's game for a living. It should make them want to crawl into a hole and cry. Not only is it an indictment on the players, it's a poor reflection of Terry Collins, whose job it is to motivate them. Clearly, the majority of this team isn't motivated. Clearly, they don't give a damn about representing the New York Mets the right way. I'm referring to the everyday players. The ones who are out there night in and night out. They've been a disgrace at the plate and in the field. They've been idiotic and reckless on the bases, and forgotten how many outs there are while in the outfield. It's been pathetic.
Most fans are either approaching, at, or past their breaking point. They're disgusted that a team in the biggest market in the World has been operating like the Oakland Athletics. They're puzzled as to why the highly touted front office has lacked foresight and done almost nothing creative in order to address this team's shortcomings. And they're furious with the on-field performance. The Mets have a built in excuse for the failure to spend recently. The Madoff litigation was ongoing, and the Wilpon's were in dire straits. Well, the litigation is over. Loans have been paid back, losses have been reduced, and there's an enormous amount of money coming off the books after 2013. After this season ends, so must the way this team has been operating financially.
The first order of business for the Mets has to be locking up both David Wright and R.A. Dickey to long-term contract extensions. Come to them with fair market value offers. Come to them with your plan for the future. Show them that you genuinely need them here, and that they can be a huge part of something special. If the Mets can't get that done (either because they refuse to pay or the players refuse to sign), both Wright and Dickey must be traded before the 2013 season begins. Going into 2013 with Wright and Dickey unsigned would be an utter disaster. To the imbeciles who run this franchise, it would be an attempt to attract fans to the games. Know this, imbeciles: Your fans know better. They know that if Wright and Dickey enter 2013 unsigned, they'll be gone after the season. We see through your nonsense. Sign them immediately, or trade them. Letting them walk while getting nothing in return (as was the case with Jose Reyes) would be completely inexcusable.
Second, Sandy Alderson recently admitted that the time to evaluate the roster is over. He noted that there has to be a major overhaul, mainly on the offensive side of things. Here's a little guide to get Sandy started: Non-tender Andres Torres. Come to the realization that Lucas Duda is not a Major League caliber Outfielder. Understand that entering the 2013 season with Jason Bay on the roster is not an option. Take into account the fact that Josh Thole has regressed offensively, and is afraid to block the plate when a runner is bearing down on him. He has no future here. Now, swapping those players out for another team's version of them isn't the answer. Be creative for once. Find a diamond in the rough. Take on some salary from a team in need of relief in order to add talent. Don't be afraid to make trades. Alderson said that the offense needed to be overhauled, and he better be prepared to make that statement a reality.
Looking further ahead, the Mets have $40 million dollars coming off the books after next season (with Jason Bay and Johan Santana's contracts expiring). The Wilpon's better be prepared to spend that money. This isn't a request to hand out outlandish contracts. It's not a plea to spend for the sake of spending. It's a demand to invest in a team that millions of fans have been investing in. We've supported you, so you damn well better be ready to support us.
If the Mets don't heed the above and act accordingly, instead continuing the complacency of the last three years, they won't have their network and new ballpark to fall back on for capital. No one will be watching the games, and no one will be attending them.
I'm currently reading "To Seek a Newer World," by Robert F. Kennedy. It's a book he wrote in 1967, just months before he was assassinated while seeking the Democratic nomination for President. Although I've always been inspired by RFK, this book has taken my admiration of him to a whole new level. He was not only a compassionate, brilliant, pragmatic man, but an incredible communicator and a great organizer. The fate of a baseball team cannot be compared to the fate of a nation. However, if the Mets continue to spit in the faces of their fans, and fail to correct the ills starting in October, the fans should take a page out of RFK's book, unite as one, and take a stand. Before the rise of Twitter and other social media, organizing something that large scale would probably have been impossible. Today, with sites such as Metsblog, The Mets Police, and The 7 Line, bringing this fanbase together in order to take our team back wouldn't be impossible. Forcing the team to play one night in front of an empty ballpark and/or leading demonstrations outside of it would make our voices heard. It would hopefully force those who have turned this team into a disgrace to either change their ways or sell. That, however, is the worst case scenario. It's what I do not want to happen.
So, Terry, Sandy, Jeff, and Fred: Fix this thing. Fix it right, and fix it now. Enough is enough.