The Mets used to be Google, daring and adventuresome. Now they resemble Apple, churning out the same product in a new package.
First, a look back at the New York Mets. In 1969, I was part of the bunch of idiots who stormed the field after the final out of the World Series, gathering up patches of sod and dirtying up the back seat of my 1967 Mustang. What happened to all those fun times?
To Mets fans, first, a caveat. I’m a New York Yankees fan at heart. But that doesn’t have to mean I can’t root for my brothers in Queens. I was only 15 when MLB pulled the first contingent of Mets literally out of a hat in 1962.
And along with you, perhaps, I recall the days of Marv Throneberry, Roger Craig, and Casey Stengel leading the charge for the team that was left with the remnants of National League baseball in New York City when the Dodgers and Giants fled to the West Coast.
But I also recall the aspect of fun associated with the Mets then that seems to be lacking these days. And maybe it has to do with expectations for the team that are different now, in which the pressure to win it all is always on, especially in the Big Apple, the capital of the baseball world.
The Mets: A sea of change
But I’m not so sure. More and more there seems to be a void of genuine enthusiasm lacking in the front office of the Mets that gets to me. The desire to win and the capacity to win seems to have escaped from this organization. So far, that theme hasn’t seeped into the clubhouse. Or, has it and we just don’t know about it?
The Wilpons are fortunate that a core of committed fans continues to follow the team, keeping attendance at respectable, though, underwhelming numbers (2.5 million in 2017), which, considering the market the Mets are in, isn’t anything to write home about.
Here’s the gist of it. The Mets remain reactive, rarely adventuring to the dark side of the sports business, where it’s often necessary to be proactive in order win and win big. Worse, the organization pretends to be players in the game when, in fact, they are not.
As an example, Sandy Alderson threw the name Shohei Ohtani out there as someone the Mets are interested in pursuing. That much is probably true (who isn’t?). But it’s also true the Mets have only $105,000 in bonus pool money to offer the Japanese star, while five teams have a million or more on the table. And of those teams, the Rangers and Yankees each have more than $3 million accumulated entering the negotiations.
Always too little, too late. Or, in many cases, nothing at all. Just as a for instance, take a look at what the Minnesota Twins are doing, or at least trying to do. They are also in on Ohtani, but their sales pitch will be that they also want to sign Yu Darvish as his mentor and facilitator, allowing Ohtani the opportunity to assimilate into our culture more quickly. That’s creative thinking. What do you suppose will be in the Mets proposal?
And I’m getting tired of beating up on the Wilpons all the time and hearing others do it as well. Yes, they are stingy when it comes to reaching into their pockets to spend on players. But they are also not baseball savvy, and they’ve never pretended to be such. They have Alderson and company to perform that task.
The Mets see creativity as blasphemy
Unfortunately, that’s where any notion of creativity stops if it ever even gets started. There are plenty of players out there who don’t cost an arm and a leg who could contribute to the team. But it takes research to find them and then doggedness to sign these guys.
The list of 2018 free agents doesn’t only contain Jake Arrieta, J.D. Martinez, and the like. Alex Avila, a catcher the Mets sorely need to replace Travis d’Arnaud, can probably be signed for around $7 million. Right-handed reliever Brandon Morrow, who spent last season with the Dodgers, isn’t going to command much more than $6 million a year.
Sandy Alderson should be exploring these names and others, and hopefully, he is. All general managers play things close to their vest at this time of year when rosters are fluid. But I’m beginning to wonder if there’s any sign of life in the minds of Alderson and company, save for the ridiculous notion the team is interested in Ohtani.
Moreover, where’s the spark? Where’s the energy coming from? Mickey Callaway? You betcha, and he could be the one to lead the Mets out of the Dark Ages and into the present (at least). It all depends, though, on how much pushback he gets from Alderson and others when he begins to lead the team in the spring.
You still “Gotta Believe?” Then, this video is for you. Cheers!
The Mets used to be Google. Now, they’re Apple. The Mets “Googled” the baseball world when they traded away Tom Seaver, traded for Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter, developed Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, and Ron Darling, all evidence of adventurism coupled with baseball savviness.
Dominic Smith vs. Keith Hernandez
Now they resemble Apple, which hasn’t put a new idea on the market for years. Instead, Apple keeps regurgitating the iPhone as “new” because you get three more pixels in resolution and 1/32nd of an inch more “viewing space” on the screen if you buy version X. Sounds like Dominic Smith to me, not Keith Hernandez.
And by the way, what the hell has happened to the Mets’ farm system? They can’t even put a decent proposal together, which doesn’t embarrass the organization, to present to Miami for Giancarlo Stanton. Wisely, they’re staying out of that one, but it’s only by default.
Maybe it’s because the Mets represent the laid-back suburbs of New York City while the Yankees play to the uppity city crowd that lets them get away with this masquerade of saying one thing—”we’re in it to win it”—and doing another. Miraculously, the Mets continue to get away with it.
I don’t get it, you tell me. Am I missing something here?