Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son”
Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”
God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?”
God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but
The next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done ?”
God says. “Out on Highway 61.”
– Bob Dylan, “Highway 61 Revisited“
Today we have gathered, friends and fellow fans, to discuss faith. For some, that means God. For others, it might mean the New York Mets. In either case, we are talking about legions of followers who have been called upon to believe.
For Mets fans these past years, faith feels like a lot to ask.
That’s why I keep thinking about old Abraham, asked to sacrifice his youngest son, Isaac, as a test of his faith in the Lord.
It was with heavy heart that Abraham led his son to the top of Mount Moriah with wood for fire and yet no lamb for slaughter. Despite Abraham’s great love of God, and his trust in God’s plan, this task represented the hardest test of all. Confused and saddened, Abraham sought in vein for a sign, a symbol, something to reassure his troubled heart.
At the last possible moment, an angel appeared to still the hand of Abraham. He would not have to sacrifice his beloved Isaac.
Which leads us back to the Mets and this grim season of 2013.
We, too, are being tested.
The Flushing Faithful have been shaken to our core. We want to believe, we sincerely do, but it’s been hard. Woe are the lowly! We search the skies, scan for trade rumors, even follow the low minors on a daily basis, all in hope of some kind of sign. A message from above. We are not alone; our suffering has meaning!
I recently zipped through The Bad Guys Won, a tawdry-but-entertaining tome by Jeff Pearlman. A quote from Mets GM Frank Cashen helped crystallize some issues for me. As fans recall, Cashen signed George Foster to a massive (at the time) 5 yr/$10 million contract in 1983. Cashen later recalled: “It was a message to baseball and to our fans that we were in it to win. From here on out we would do whatever it takes.”
To be clear, Cashen saw that acquiring Foster was at least as meaningful as gesture than as daily reality. The team was not close; and Foster, alone, would not make much difference. But he symbolized something and — importantly — he gave the fans another reason to come to the park.
Let’s recall, also, in that same year Cashen picked up an aging fan favorite, George Thomas Seaver. He did it for the fans, or perhaps for the turn styles, in the end it’s the same thing, really. Cashen wanted our money — call it loyalty, support, or whatever you want. Ultimately: Get us excited about the team and everybody’s happy.
In 1998, the statement move came in the form of a bold trade for superstar catcher, Mike Piazza. The Mets had surrendered three prized prospects to make the deal. Do you remember their names? Preston Wilson, Ed Yarnell, Geoff Goetz.
(Be assured, some lonely fan cried out in anguish, “Not Ed Yarnell! Nooooo!!!”)
It was an unmistakable move that said to the fans, “We’re in it to win it.”
Omar Minaya had the fans and all of NY in mind early in his tenure as Mets GM when he executed the famous (and shocking, at the time) signing of Pedro Martinez. It was a statement move, a symbol. The Mets were back, looking to compete. Carlos Beltran was next on the radar.
Now we are in Year Three of the Reign of Sandy and we are still waiting for that signal, the move that tells us times have changed. That the team means business.
And that, yes, Sandy Alderson has what it takes to lead this team to a championship. Because right now, today, that’s not at all clear. Not to me anyway.
A week ago we read in The Daily News, courtesy of Andy Martino, quotes from unnamed team officials indicating that maybe the team was kind of, sort of, possibly maybe ready to add major league talent to the roster at the trade deadline.
Alderson’s quotes were comical in their studied obtuseness:
“We will see how the market develops, but yes. It’s a possibility. It depends on what is available. I have been involved in deals in the past whose first consideration was not the current season but the following season…The possibility of making an acquisition that has implications not just for the second half of this season? Yes.”
Oooooh, unbreak, my heart!
I say: Come on, Sandy Alderson. Do what good GMs do. This is New York City. We are loyal fans of the New York Mets. Send us a message . . . some kind of sign . . . something . . . here as we stand, saddened and confused, amidst the shambles of another sacrificed season. Show us that there’s meaning behind all this slaughter.
Show us that the senseless loss is over. Show us that you have the will to compete.