WAITING FOR SANDY TO MAKE A “MESSAGE MOVE” — You Know, the One That Says, “We Mean Business.”

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

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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!

SacrificeOfIsaac200x258

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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.

Frank Cashen -- while slowly building a winner -- knew that he couldn't completely foresake the fans.

Frank Cashen — while slowly building a winner — knew that he couldn’t completely ignore the fans.

 

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.

Another message move by a Mets GM: the Pedro signing.

Another message move by a Mets GM: the Pedro signing.

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.

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13 comments

  1. eric says:

    I’ve had a broad sense that the Mets Bottom has passed. As we approach the trade deadline and the Draft, the team has a concentrated time span in which to gather a tremendous amount of talent and balance the positional depth and performance at every level.

    The positive flow will be the evidence of movement upward through the system as well as OUT of the system. The Wins and Losses may or may not be impacted in the second half of 2013—-I expect that we will begin winning and losing with players who have a chance to be part of the next Met’s Contender. Losing games AND Winning games with Marlin Byrd and Rick Ankiel is a hopeless pursuit.

    The Listless and Will-less drift of the past several seasons needs to end BEFORE the losing can end. I don’t believe Sandy needs to make a Move as a SIGNAL……I do believe that that a series of moves and the arrival of prospects and trade pieces will signify that things have changed.

    I await a sign of life and direction from Met Management— I have an August 10 deadline to see major changes and additions and SUBTRACTIONS that will indicate that something looking like a PLAN TO WIN exists.

  2. eric says:

    How about an edit function?…… Substitute PASSED for past

  3. Michael Geus says:

    It’s important to note that Cashen took on major salary with Foster and Seaver. And that Doubleday therefore was O.K. with it.

    If the owners refuse to properly invest in the team the moves available decrease.

    I agree that it is time for the organization to show the fans a commitment. That starts all the way at the top.

    Mets fans have waited three years now for Fred to rebuild his personal wealth, it was not our idea that he use Bernie Madoff.

    If the Wilpons cannot run this team properly they must sell, and if investment does not begin prior to 2014 it is the responsibility of Mets fans to direct their wrath straight to the top.

    We have all been very understanding of poor Fred’s wallet, no more, enough is enough.

  4. Eric says:

    It can’t be much fun to be the owners of this franchise now. The “wrath” of fans has been defined by sinking attendance and plunging revenues.

    Lack of commitment to the team may indicate that this “Alderson Era” has largely been a pre-packaging for the team to go on sale. Expenses have been slashed. The long term elements are in place–The Stadium, The Network, and the never ending fact of 30 million wallets within a 2 hour commute.

    I root for a change—Ownership Change would be the best change.

    • Alan K. says:

      I don’t think the Wilpons have any intention of selling; on the contrary I think they’re desperately trying to hang on to the team so that Jeff doesn’t lose his favorite toy. The Wilpons won’t sell unless it’s clear that they have no other choice. The only way the fans could influence that choice is by not going to games.

      • I totally agree on the Wilpons. The phrase, “You’ll have to pry this team from my dead, cold fingers” springs to mind.

        That said: I’d like to give public humiliation a try! When things go bad, they always shield Jeff from the spotlight. I think they are sensitive to public criticism. To an extent. To another extent, they got in on the ground floor for, what?, $10 million — and now it’s worth way more than a billion. Plus SNY, etc.

        Would you sell? I wouldn’t. They just want to ride out the cash-flow problem, but don’t understand that bringing in REVENUE should be part of the solution. Ugh. A mess.

        • Michael Geus says:

          I totally agree on the public humiliation front. I understand people not going, but also understand why that option is difficult for many fans.

          Attendance has already cratered, soon we will see how they respond to that. The first clue is August 1, and this offseason ends any possible suspense.

          All the excuses are gone.

  5. Brian Joura says:

    I think the time for a message move was last year at the All-Star break. There was a team in contention but with obvious flaws – relief pitching and a big righty bat. They could have sent a message last year to address these issues when there was still a shot at the playoffs. Instead, Alderson sat on his hands. By the time he picked up Shoppach, the time had passed.

    I don’t see a reason to make a statement move now. In my mind, the best statement they can make is to hit a HR in the 2013 Draft.

    • Michael Geus says:

      As long as the player can be retained going forward I think the time continues to be ripe.

    • This is not a statement for a statement’s sake. I’m saying a real move, for a myriad of reasons. The fans need to come to the park, that’s very important and an area that Alderson, like a country bumpkin, has completely missed. Revenue! The fans! You can’t assume we’ll always be here. But also, more importantly (since it drives revenue), a move that shows the team is headed in a different direction. I’d contend that if Alderson made a real trade and brought back, say, an outfielder with a salary, took on payroll to make the team better, that would be a SIGNAL to the fans. If he traded some prospects for an MLB player, that would also be a message. Moreover, messages are received in the clubhouse, too. Players care and spend hours reading the tea leaves.

      Look, I agree about last season, I wanted Alderson to do a few minor, basic, inexpensive moves to bolster the team’s slim hopes. They had played great up until that point, but also had the obvious weaknesses you mentioned. He did NOTHING, the team fell apart, and the fans started thinking about football. Would they have made the playoffs? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be nice to TRY? Isn’t that the idea of sport?

      Lastly, the 2013 Draft can’t be assessed until two years from now, at best. Nimmo? Who knows! The casual fan does not give a rat’s ass about the 2013 Draft. It would signal zippo and bring not one new fan into the ballpark. And even to me, it would only be the same dreary business as usual. I’m looking for the business model to change. I’m looking for ownership to step up to the effing plate.

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