Yesterday two news items rolled in. One was that WFAN will not be carrying Mets games any more. The team has been ditched for Yankee broadcasts. The second item was that Ruben “Pulling Teeth” Tejada had been recalled. I see a connection in these two items. We have all been wondering for some time why Ruben was not being called up. It turns out that by waiting until this magic day we can push his impending free agency back a year. Think about it. All signs are that this organization cannot wait to be rid of Tejada, yet it was still deemed important to delay his free agency, on the odd chance, that maybe, however slim the chance, the Mets can save a few bucks. Forget that the guy playing shortstop the last month is killing the team and has no future here. And that some people have bought tickets to these games, or might watch on TV, or listen on the radio. Nope, screw everyone, the only thing that matters is expenses.
Well, to be fair, there’s also the misguided conception that it makes Ruben more attractive to another (phantom) trade partner. Sorry, I’m grasping for straws here. Carry on!
Then on the same day we find out WFAN is dropping the team. This is no small deal. The Mets created WFAN. There would be no WFAN without the Mets. The enterprise began on the old WHN 1050 signal that carried the Mets, and revolved around the Mets. Who, by the way, were far and away a bigger deal around here then the Yankees. Now things have devolved so much that they are no longer interested in airing our games. Can we blame them? WFAN is not interested in how low we can get the payroll. They are interested in a winning and exciting team.
Meanwhile, for all of their problems, mistakes, and adversity, the Yankees are playing — wait for it — meaningful games in September. It must be fun, you know, to passionately care about the result of a ball game.
In another affront to fans we have the reintroduction of Frank Francisco in our lives. I had to see this guy last night. Every Mets fan has had it with him, there is three weeks to go, and we have to look at this guy? And from where I sit it seems like another stupid ploy to save a few dollars. Hoping someone will take him from you for the stretch run, pay him for a few weeks. In the meantime it is a symbolic middle finger to every fan of this team who has had it with Francisco. And the park gets emptier and emptier.
How can this be smart business?
Well, gee, okay, maybe you found a teeny-tiny little crack in “THE PLAN.” The complete neglect of the revenue side in one of the biggest markets on the planet. I’ve mentioned it before, I live near Albany and we can’t get the games on the radio. We are witnessing the cultural marginalization of a NYC baseball team. The club is irrelevant. We’re like jazz on the radio. Do you know that show, “Bar Rescue”? My boys love it. The guy comes in, observes for a while, then it’s scorched earth. Usually there’s waste, crappy personal, poor management. So he works to get that in order. But the other prong in the recovery is to bring in customers. Because, you know, a bar is dead if nobody walks in the door. Sounds obvious, I know. But, well, you were at Citi Field last night. Long line in the restrooms?
There could not have been 5,000 people there. I tried to get a picture but I only had the phone and couldn’t get a decent shot because of the glare from the lights. Two quick stats. I was sitting in the Caesers Level behind home, one section over from Howie Rose and Josh Lewin. Including me there were seven people in the section, in very good seats. That got me to looking around the park and counting how many sections had zero people in them. I stopped at twenty five, at which point I had looked around at about half of the place.
Every year things get worse, and every year we get told it is getting better. But it doesn’t. The only constant since Madoff is that the payroll drops, every year.
They continue to lose money. The irony here, I think, is that the only way to turn the tide, the only way to regain fan interest and start making money, is to start spending it. The Mets could be an improved team in 2014, they could easily add 10-15 wins to this unit. But they must spend money. It’s the only immediate way out of this mess. Unless you want to exchange the faulty old 3-year plan into a brand new 5-year plan! We can start dreaming of Nimmo in RF and 2017. I’ve got time. My heart is good. I exercise, eat right, my father lived into his 80s. There’s no rush. I’ve got cable, HBO, Showtime. I’ll wait.
They are selling a product, and there is a lot of competition. You look at this roster and it’s hard to imagine how we become relevant again this decade if we do not start increasing payroll. But then you watch the continued actions of the organization and wonder, will we? The new September Mets tradition has become bad baseball and a lack of hope.
That is a tradition that has to end fast, or the Mets will be lucky to land a Podcast.
On this day, 9/11/13, it would be remiss of us not to remember, and reflect upon the brave, the fallen, the innocent. And what it means to come back from adversity, and rise again.
And another memory, forever attached to that time in our lives . . . enjoy.