August 18, 2010
BASEBALL: You Like Pizza, Don't You?
Matthew Artus at Always Amazin' has a funny-yet-sad-because-it's-true look at a focus group conducted by the Mets to gauge fan perceptions of the park, the organization, etc.:
The consultant asked if the group felt it important to know the team's overall strategy, which induced responses that the fans would really like to just be under the impression that the team has any kind of meaningful strategy to execute.
On the day after the Mets players admitted to struggling with the agony of defeat and a lost season, the consultant successfully brought the frustrations of the Mets fan base to the surface. The group described the Mets as "pathetic," "hopeless," and "embarrassing." They struggled to justify paying the prices asked by the ticket office to see the debacle currently sporting the orange and blue. They worried about raising their kids as Mets fans for fear of introducing them to this kind of heartbreak.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Joe Kernan of the Post argues that the Wilpons understand the need for an overhaul and lays out a plan that makes a good deal of sense, including hiring Kevin Towers as GM and - perhaps more significantly - adding a head of baseball operations between the Wilpons and the GM. Given that a lot of the organization's problems are believed to emanate from Jeff Wilpon's involvement, that may well be advisable, but it's always hard for owners to get the message that they and their families are part of the problem.
I don't dislike Jerry Manuel as much as a lot of people do, and even Omar Minaya has his virtues (eg, the scrap heap claim of RA Dickey), but both of them obviously need to go, and the housecleaning equally obviously needs to go further to the dysfunctional nature of the organization, its tendency to get into disputes like the current effort to dock K-Rod's pay or the offseason battle with Carlos Beltran over his surgery. This is a shabbily run organization, and there's no reason it has to be.
I'm not hopeful. Like the Dolans, the Wilpons have never quite gotten it. I don't expect them to start now.
My life as a Met fan has seen this pattern of "get good as the farm system spits out some young talent and a good free agent or two tie it together" followed inexorably by some variation on the following:
* the owner and a grumpy sportwriter conduct a vendetta against the face of the franchise, culminating in a reviled trade
* an in-over-his-head GM trading an excellent CF in his prime and a solid reliever for a no glove, no walks, sort-of power hitter, because they were mean to the prima donna second baseman that no one but the owners liked
* attempting to convince fans that Hubie Brooks is as good a right fielder as Darryl Strawberry
* throwing bleach at fans
* offering to show a reporter The Bronx
* signing an over-the-hill second baseman, a free-swinging right fielder, and a whale-disguised-as-a-first baseman to contracts worth roughly as much as the GDP of the European Union
* signing a gimpy 2B, an ever gimpier LF, and a non-strike throwing SP for even more.
* The closer beats up his 53 year old father-in-law in the clubhouse . . . breaking the thumb . . . of his pitching hand in the process.
I can't go on.
And not sure how I can go on as a Met fan.
Crank & Mike, it could be worse. You could be cursed to go through life as a Royals fan. At least your team has the resources to go after high priced talent or at least players that are rumored to have talent. The most productive free agent we have signed in the last 5 years is Gil Meche, at least until he started to break down. The Royals are at the point of signing marginal FA's and hoping they play well enough to flip at the deadline for a couple of marginal prospects. At least we were finally able to move the dreaded Jose Guillan. Even though we had to pay almost all his remaining salary to get the dreaded player to be named later. When was the last time that turned out to be a production player? I don't remember one recently.
Good luck with your team. At least you have a new stadium to watch baseball in. We didn't even do that right. We just remodeled.
Sometimes I think that Mets fans go a bit overboard. I mean "pathetic," "hopeless," "embarrassing"? "[T]he debacle currently sporting the orange and blue"?
This is a .500 team! Does anyone realize that half the teams in MLB are worse? What would these fans do if, as madirishman points out above, their team were the Royals?
I know, I know - $130 million payroll, high ticket prices, blah, blah, blah. Still, I think Mets fans go too far in their denunciation of the team. Yes, it would be nice to be the Yankees, with their $200+ million payroll, ability to sign lots of big name players, etc., etc. But the Mets aren't the Yankees (nobody else is) -- and they are not the Royals either. It is nice to have high standards and expect a lot from your team, but fans ought to have a bit more perspective.
I'd like to see the Royals make a comeback - I don't know how, but I'd like to see it. They used to be so good when I was growing up, with all those ALCS battles with the Yanks in the late 70's - always made me nervous as a Yanks fan.
There is supposed to be a lot of talent in the pipeline, but I have heard that for years. There is supposed to be a LOT of pitching, but none of it is above AA. We will see.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Crank (or Mike), but it seems like Mets fans shouldn't be frustrated because they're comparing the Mets to the Yankees, but rather to the Sox. The payrolls are closer, Jason Bay, Pedro, etc., the comparison makes sense. Even though this season is lost with the Youk out, I still have faith in John Henry and co., and that Theo has a plan (even when it brings in duds*coughmikecameroncough*), and next year we'll be back in the race. Mets fans think about "next year" and think...what?
The Wilpons need to take a page from the book of Wellington Mara, who eventually went on to great success after accepting the need to basically fire himself from the day-to-day football decisions of the Giants.