Spring, and what better way to spend a kind April afternoon than at a doubleheader? In the spirit of Ernie Banks I thought, “Let’s play two!”.
Okay, I got there after the home team at a field called Citi had lost the opener. So the ballpark was not exactly hopping with excitement. Naturally they lost game two. And the piped in music was literally so loud I could not talk to anyone nor hear myself think. And I was frisked on my way in like a perp. What fun!
But this is only partly about how poorly the actual team in question (The New York Metropolitans)executes on the field (and boy do they fail to execute!).
Mainly it is about the clueless deformation and diminution of what remains one of the most valuable property-types in sports–an MLB franchise in the nation’s largest and most sports-hungry market.
How did owner Wilpon allow his golden ball club to get as squalid and tarnished as it now comes across?
Mainly, the Wilpon problem appears to be born of both idiocy and duplicity–but that is only a guess based on what I can observe.
Here is a version of the misdeeds leading up to my call for the Wilpons to get out of the baseball business rapidly, before they utterly destroy the franchise.
Let us go back to the first dumb move: They hired as GM a guy, likable and NewYorky as he was (Omar Minaya), whose main theory seemed to be that the cure to any baseball ill was to add more Hispanic members to the roster. And apart from David Wright (more on him soon), it seems every high profile player Minaya bought or traded for or raised on the farm was Hispanic and it seemed to matter almost not at all whether that person was the best person for the job. And mind you, I believe baseball in general should be thrilled that Hispanics as a group have taken up a love of baseball because no one else seems to “get it” throughout the whole wide world except for the Japanese.
But that does not change the fact that the Mets had as a personnel strategy not a “best in class” approach but some other approach not based on being simply the best.
Second dumb move: hanging on to Jose Reyes and David Wright after several losing seasons. Considering their value on the trade market, and the fact that the team can finish poorly without either of the two players above, these men ought to have been traded already. Reyes is talented but undisciplined and inconsistent. Wright is a solid player but not anything like the superstar face-of-the-franchise they want him to be. One struggles to recall even a single clutch hit by Mr. Wright over the past several years (‘nuf said).
Third dumb move: Building the clueless abomination that is their new ballpark, to wit:
-it is named after a notoriously awful bank that helped bring down the entire economy
-its welcoming rotunda honors a player who never played for the Mets, while relegating famous Mets to some other unknown place in the park
-the stadium design is “cookie cutter quirky”, trying in vain to mimic Camden Yards and the Jake
-the color scheme in the park is black and orange, which matches nothing to do with the team and looks like a halloween show
-Shake Shack is the most interesting thing at the park, including the team
-rather than renovating historic, decrepit, subway-station-like, lovable old Shea, they tore it down and instead spent a billion dollars on a new park that nobody cares about and nobody needed.
Fourth and most current dumb move: associating themselves with the biggest crook in all history, Mr. Bernie Madoff, once a family friend–now in a dark cell where he belongs.
It is true they have cobbled a new management team this year–a couple of California guys who’ve had some success. But the team today is four and eleven and looks exactly as lifeless as it did last year and the year before.
Put all that together with successive awful seasons including two-in-a-row historical collapses, and you have a team without leadership, without much to be proud of, and very little to no likability at all.
For the betterment of the National League fan base in New York, the Wilpons should divest themselves of the Mets and let someone take over who knows a little something about both baseball and team spirit.
Sell! The price will not be higher any time soon.