I read a post at Mets360, “The Mets are not the Yankees,” that I thought was . . . well, I couldn’t have disagreed more. I thought the thesis was terribly misguided, but not anything we haven’t heard before.
I don’t particularly want to throw rocks at the writer, Dave Groveman. In fact, I’ve twice complimented his work in this space. Dave loves prospects and does a great job organizing the info. I’m also a big fan of Mets360 in general, and Brian Joura in particular. So with apologies all around, I want to react to the ideas in the piece.
I’ll begin with Dave’s concluding sentence, which is a matter of opinion, his own personal feelings:
Would you prefer the Mets try to be more like the Yankees? There is a reason I’m not a Yankee fan and I would not.
Fair enough. He doesn’t want the Mets to spend. This post-Madoff era must be a joyous time for Dave. But the premise rankles with me, because there’s a whiff of moral superiority to it. That there’s something nobler about the Mets losing on the cheap than the Yankees winning with financial muscle. And that we, as fans, make a reasoned choice when our alliances are fashioned.
Maybe Dave is different, more analytical in the teams he supports. But most fans I know formed their attachments to teams at a young age, and for many that core relationship never changes. Most 7-year-olds have favorite teams. Sometimes circumstances bring changes, people move to Cleveland, maybe marry a rabid Lakers fan, whatever. Other times, fans switch to winning teams. We call those people “frontrunners,” lacking in loyalty and undeserving of our respect.
As for me, I’m a Mets fan because my mother was a Mets fan. That’s the long and the short of it. The Mets were always on the radio and television. She loved those guys. I loved her. Mom was an old Brooklyn Dodgers fan. So I learned to love the Mets, too. It doesn’t make me a good person or a bad person. We connected over the team. I’m sure that story plays out in households across America.
Another possible factor was they won when I was young and impressionable. Eight years old, I went the 1969 World Series and watched as Cleon Jones cradled that final out in Game Five, my hero, Jerry Koosman, on the mound. There was no turning back. Though, truth be told, my loyalty has been tested. Donald Grant, Lorinda de Roulet, Fred Wilpon, to name a few. But splitting on the Mets has never been remotely conceivable.
I’m still a Mets fan, even though they are owned by a group of people I think of as assholes, idiots, and crooks. I root for the team they own. I can’t claim that’s any better than a Yankee fan.
I don’t understand the whole switching teams thing. Rooting for a team when they are both up and down is what I find fun. I mean sure, I could declare myself a Broncos fan today and have “my” team in the Super Bowl but I don’t know what I could possibly get from that. I wouldn’t say I look down on those people, I just find them curious. We now have three generations of Mets fans in my family. The team has provided us with a tremendous amount of stories and shared memories. That connectivity that can come from the fan process is what is special to me.
Now, one thing about my immediate family is that no one has ever left New York. I can’t say what I would do if I suddenly moved to Pittsburgh. Another big part of the fan experience for me is attending games. It would be tough for me not to root for my home town team.
Dave Grovemen begins the piece by noting that after the past few seasons, 2014 was going to be the year when the Bay and Santana [and Francisco] contracts expired. Dave wrote: “Sandy Alderson would be free to spend money, and spend he did.”
He recounts the signings: Granderson, Colon, Young, Lannan, Matsuzaka, Hefner, Quintanilla, and Teagarden.
That will wind up costing the Mets over $90 Mil when all is said and done. That is a serious investment in the team, but it doesn’t feel that way to many fans because of a certain team in the Bronx.
Well, no. It doesn’t “feel” like a serious investment because, in fact, it isn’t. Annual payroll, to date, has gone down. The team is still cutting costs, not making serious investments. They sold one box of cereal and put a replacement on the shelf. That’s it. We don’t go down to the supermarket and say, “Holy shit, look at the investment they’ve made. These bananas are all new! And look at this kale!” Despite inflation, skyrocketing television revenues, and ever-rising player salaries, the Mets are below the payroll size of the 2001 team.
The glaring subtext here is that people like us are too blinded by the Yankees glitz and bling to appreciate the Mets’ way.
So at last we come to Dave Groveman’s final insult. And actually, rereading this again, I find the article more offensive each time. Totally ignoring NY baseball history, and the Mets own past, Groveman declares:
The Mets look like little fish when we were promised big things. To these fans I have a simple message, “You are rooting for the wrong team.”
Oh, right, we should be Yankees fans. Thanks, Dave. Or maybe you need to stick with the Toledo Mud Hens. You can defend these crappy owners all you want, you can pretend that those lying crooks are morally superior to the Yankee ownership, but leave my fandom out of this.
The Mets I root for are not the Yankees and I don’t want them to be. I want them to be the Mets and do things our own way. What way is that? It seems to me that the best Met teams are built from a strong mix of savvy trades, player development and a few key signings.
Hey, I am excited about Zack Wheeler too. Big fan, high hopes. But I haven’t forgotten that the Mets acquired Zack by trading Carlos Beltran, a free agent they signed for $119 million in 2005, at the time the 7th largest contract in baseball history. And guess what? Most of us loved watching Beltran play, and never once did I feel sad they we spent money to get him, or that Omar Minaya was desperately trying to “buy” a championship. And when it comes to keeping Matt Harvey around, I sure hope these clowns have the cash to do it, and still pay for the solid supporting cast he’ll deserve (and demand).
We all root for the team. If the Mets can build a consistent winner with a low payroll, great. I don’t think they can. And yes, I get cranky then, that these owners are devaluing this great franchise I root for. I can’t help it. As much as I am a fan of the Mets, I am also a fan of logic. Running the Mets like they are in Kansas City is plain dumb.
Making excuses for this putrid payroll is making excuses for the Wilpons. I have a prediction. I think someday the Wilpons lose control of this team. It could take a while, but Mets fans, eat right and exercise. Because when someone else gets to run this team, your head is going to explode when you see where the payroll goes.
When that day comes will you still be a Mets fan? I will. I’ve learned to live with a small market mentality, I think I can adapt to a big market one.
Well, we’ve seen it here before, plenty of years. The article was based on a false a dichotomy, an either/or. The Mets have gone both ways in the past. And right now, from my perspective, the lack of financial resources is hurting this organization’s ability to field a championship team.
God, I need Spring Training to begin in the worst way. Play ball somebody, anybody, Bueller?