I hope the New York Mets still believe in Santa Claus because he seems to be the only one working at a feverish pitch to bring in the new year with joy and gifts for all.
I do not imagine this. Sandy Alderson, the fearless general manager of the New York Mets, is waking up in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. In his Eddie Bauer pajamas, he creeps down the steps to glance under the tree hoping it has been stocked full by Santa.
Alas, from his perch he can see only one small box. Sandy can’t resist though as he remembers from his childhood that good things can come in small packages. With visions of sugarplums dancing in his head, Sandy reaches down to glance at the card attached to the minuscule box.
It reads, “Merry Christmas, Sandy. From Jose Lobaton.” Grrrr.
Now, his eyes spot two more boxes. All is not lost, and one of them is a humongous looking box with scotch tape holding the wrapping paper in place. Sandy decides to save that one for last. Moving to the middle sized box, he wipes the perspiration from his forehead and kneels gently to peer at the tag.
“I have 14 million reasons to wish you a Merry Christmas. From Anthony Swarzak.” Grrrr.
Always the optimist though, Sandy clumsily plods around to the back of the tree where the big one sits. This time, though, he ignores the card and rips the paper off with one swipe of his 70-year-old hands, and does a double-take. What the hell is this brown thing with a hole in the top?
His eyes catch sight of a note attached to the underside. Fumbling for his reading glasses, Sandy reads:
“Dear Sandy, This is a gift we received from Father Brian who runs that big church over in the Bronx. He calls it a poor box and says he no longer needs it. Please find a prominent place for display in your office. Merry Christmas and thanks for being a loyal soldier all these years. Yours truly, Fred and Jeff Wilpon.”
Such is the plight of Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets these days. Except it’s not funny and Mets fans deserve a whole lot more. Alderson has an exceptional talent for list making. His shopping lists appear on the MLB Trade Rumors page every day. The only list he doesn’t carry with him is the one reminding him of the Mets top prospects. And that’s because there is no list and there are no prospects the Mets can offer as trade bait.
Which leaves the Mets with only free agents as a source for improving the team this season. Which, in turn, leads the discussion right back to where we always end up with this franchise – money. And if Met fans know anything, it’s that any discussion involving money is a non-starter.
So, where does that leave us? I have a few very descriptive words to answer that question, but I enjoy being associated with ESNY. So, let’s turn it over to Marc Carig, who wrote a brilliant piece for the Sunday edition of Newsday, in which he lays out the ugly truth about the state of the Mets franchise.
Carig wonders where the transparency is with the Mets, and in particular with the Wilpons. He points to the $50 million windfall all teams are receiving this year as compensation for the “sale of the technology used to stream games on MLB.com, a venture that was started by the owners.” Whose pockets are being lined with this money that could be dedicated to players?
Carig doesn’t stop there. He’s on a roll, and next, he turns his attention to Alderson, crystallizing the problem in a couple of sentences:
‘They should be looking hard at adding a starting pitcher, adding another reliever, adding a first baseman who can hit and adding a second baseman who can hit.
Earlier in the offseason, Alderson himself agreed on all those counts. But by the winter meetings, he had changed his tone. He downplayed the need for a starting pitcher. Then he expressed confidence in first baseman Dominic Smith, all after questioning his conditioning.’
Nonbelievers, watch and hear it from the horse’s mouth:
Bravo, I love this guy. The Mets have descended to a franchise that is smoke and mirrors. This, just two seasons after they gripped their fanbase with a successful run to the World Series. It’s just cause for a good cry if you are a dedicated follower of the team.
A central theorem in physics says that a body in motion will tend to stay in motion. The Mets are witness to that posit. Except the movement is not forward, it’s backward.
Leave it to Carig to spell their plight out in plain English, while directing us to what needs to be done to turn this thing around:
‘The Wilpons can start by publicly owning up to how this franchise is run. They can begin speaking for themselves rather than leaving the dirty work to middle men. But until they show the courage to take that first step, the Mets and their fans are doomed to repeat the cycle, pulling for a franchise that will never actually do enough to win.’
That’s a pretty sad commentary on a franchise which exists in the baseball capital of the world – New York City. But it’s also dead on.
What’s next? Just prior to the home opener on Mar. 29 against the St. Louis Cardinals, Tim Tebow will parachute and land on home plate, casually pick up his glove to the wild cheers of the faithful, and wander out to left field.
The Wilpons? They’ll be taking bets on the attendance while keeping a close eye on all of their online bank accounts as more pennies are added to their millions.
I’m tellin’ ya, you can’t make this stuff up.