Archive for May, 2011

Speak

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Fred:  (Excuse the intimacy, but you’ve been part of my life for over thirty years.)

Speak.  Please.  Say something like this, which Ken Davidoff drafted for you:

“I’d like to wholeheartedly apologize to Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright and the rest of this 2011 Mets team that I foolishly disparaged during our April 20 loss to the Houston Astros.

We dropped to 5-13 that night, and my frustration reached a boil. I care so much about the team, and that night, in the company of Jeffrey Toobin I recklessly and inarticulately took the club to task. I neglected to remember the old baseball adage that ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint,’ and the spirited way our players, manager and coaches have performed since that night confirms the truth of that wisdom.

I let the team down. They deserved far better from their leader. I will be addressing them Tuesday in Chicago to personally apologize to them and offer my support.

And from now on, rest assured, I’ll think twice before I speak.”

Say it like you mean it, like it’s your words and sentiments, and like you didn’t have to wait for the world to point out to you that you should say something like this.   Don’t tell the world that the Mets are handling this internally.  Why would you think that would make us feel confident?

The Wilpons Are Selling the Mets

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

That is the only conceivable explanation for the things Fred Wilpon said to Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker profile that appeared online this morning.

You don’t say to any reporter, let alone to one as respected as Toobin, that Reyes has all sorts of things wrong with him, that Wright is a really good kid, a very good player, but not a superstar, and that it was a mistake to sign Beltran.  You don’t say that the team you own is shitty.  These are the things you say when you reach the end of the line, when you expect nothing from the future, when you no longer care about what you’ve always cared about, and when you no longer care about the people to whom you owe what you have.  

These are words for the last act of a tragedy.  They have no place in a world that will continue.

By lowering the value of Reyes, Wright, Beltran, and the team of which he is trying to sell 49%, Wilpon has betrayed everyone in sight:  the players, his wonderful new administration, and the fans, some of whom have now lived and died with this team for half a century.  We all deserve an apology.  But we deserve more than that.  We deserve an exit that doesn’t make anything worse than it already is.

Wilpon would have gained so much if he could have ended this all with class.  I have to admit that for nearly all of the time he owned the team I liked him and admired him.  I liked his story.  I liked the fact that he grew up in pretty much the same place and pretty much the same conditions as my parents.  I liked his enthusiasm and the dignity and competence he showed for many years, owning the Mets so much more quietly than Steinbrenner owned the Yankees.  I didn’t like some of his notable moments of cluelessness, like his apparent erasure of the Mets from the original Citi Field.  But I figured that it was part of the natural narcissism of a billionaire.  It was just a matter of self-involved stadium design.  I guess when you own something, you might start thinking that you are the only one who counts.  I hate that, of course, because I prefer to think that people who own ball teams are just taking care of them for the rest of us.  But I can see why they might not view it in that way.  For me, the freakiest section of Toobin’s article was learning that when Wilpon first met with the architects hired to design the new stadium, they were, according to Wilpon, just saying “blah blah blah” and he had to lean forward and tell them that “this is how this is going to work.”  When you start acting in this way, you have become King Lear and you deserve what happens to you.  That’s probably the moment you should retire, or at least stop thinking about your dynasty.    

Well, he stayed too long.  And I feel for him.  He made a common mistake and as he knows, it was not the only mistake he made in his life.  Nor was it the worst.  I am heartbroken by what I have read in the New Yorker.  But I am not heartbroken for Fred Wilpon.  I am heartbroken for the Mets and for their fans.  We deserved more than this final clueless arrogance. 

Watching a game with Wilpon, Toobin describes how the Astros  put three runs up on the board in the second inning, and Wilpon says to him “We’re snakebitten, baby,” as if the disasters of the past four and a half years had something to do with snakes or stars.

They didn’t, but it turns out that we are snakebitten.  We’ve been bitten by a snake.

What Now?

Friday, May 20th, 2011

One of the hardest things about being a fan blogger is that every once in a while you feel a need to pose as a sportswriter.  You feel that you need to talk about how you feel the team is going to do, how a certain player is going to play.  And yet, like other fans, all you know is what you read in the papers and on the Internet, and what you hear on the radio and TV.  I guess people who read a blog want to know what someone who writes a blog thinks about what is going to happen.  A blogger owes it to readers to tell them.  But when I write this kind of stuff, I feel like a fraud, because I not only know no more than my readers, I know less than a lot of them.  I am within my comfort zone writing about my impressions of the ballpark and my idea of the eternal qualities of Mets fandom.  But me, a sportswriter?  An analyst?  Who am I kidding?    I wonder if real sportswriters ever feel such moments of self-doubt.  Probably not.  They know so much, which is why their predictions are usually right. 

Sportswriters were unanimous a month ago about the Mets being done for this year.  When is the fire sale going to begin?  What a disaster!  What an abused fan base!  How can a NY baseball franchise have allowed itself to become irrelevant? 

Things are different now.  But nobody knows how different.  We’re at that moment where people who have been ranting and raving suddenly have to stop in mid-rant and wonder if they should shut up, or if they should just pause for a few moments before they go on. 

I would like to point out that if the Mets play as well as they have over their past 25 games, they will win 98 games.  I don’t know what to do with that fact any more than you do.

The first question that comes to my mind is why couldn’t the Mets play during the rest of the season as well as they’ve played over the past 25 games?  You might say, well, it’s because the Buffalo Mets are not really as good as they’ve been looking lately.  Perhaps not, but what if one or two of them (say Gee and Turner) really are pretty good, and what if Wright, Bay, and Dickey return to form?  And what if  Davis, Reyes, and Beltran keep playing as they are and Pelfrey, Niese, Capuano, K-Rod, and Isringhausen stay close to what they have been lately?  Wouldn’t we then be thinking about winning 110 games?  Of course not, but we would be talking about a pretty large margin for error, for a team we’d be glad to see win 90.

Teams that win tend to be of two kinds:  really good teams (e.g. the ‘86 Mets) and .500 teams for which a lot of things have broken right (e.g. the ‘69 Mets).   Could this scorned, battered, and very improbable team possibly belong in the latter category?  Could we be in the early stages of something no one anticipated and no one even anticipates now?

One of the things that should not be true, but seems to me to be true, is that Subway Series tend to come when the Mets are at particularly interesting and pivotal moments in their season.  It is my impression, and  it may just be an impression (notice that I am not looking it up), that how the Mets have performed in recent years in Subway Series has some impact on how they perform in the few weeks afterward.  What if the Mets win two out of three from the Yankees this weekend and are at the .500 mark, after having been given up for dead when they lost 13 of their first 18 games?

What then?

More Sports, More Testosterone

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

 

I read today in several places that SportsNet New York (SNY) is launching a new series of ads under the banner “More Sports. More Testosterone.” This campaign was developed by a New York ad agency called Ogilvy & Mather. The ads, which I assume will be humorous, will show how watching SNY will increase your testosterone levels. The bright bulbs who conceived this campaign even did some research. One of Ogilvy and Mather’s creative directors said “We googled ‘watching sports and testosterone’ and found a study from the University of Utah that actually validated our positioning.”   Validated their positioning.  Ooh.  Listen to them.

I have more than enough testosterone. Seriously, if you look up the scientific signs of having enough testosterone, I have them all. I have male pattern baldness, a hairy chest, (and at this point in my life a hairy back), and a big full beard. I got it, baby, I got it.

So what do I think about this new SNY campaign suggesting that if I watch enough SNY I’ll get even more testosterone? What do you think I think? You see I also have these things underneath my bald spot called brain cells.

What are they thinking? What are they thinking? Who comes up with an idea that will immediately alienate and possibly offend 51% of their potential audience? Are they aware that there are women who are sports fans and Mets fans? Do they even understand how offensive this is even to men? Do they think that when we men listen to SNY announcers like Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez, or analysts like Bobby Ojeda and Kevin Burkhardt, that we are listening with our hormones and our primitive fish brains? Have they heard these guys? Do they think that just because some of us fans have a Y chromosome, we don’t also have mammalian brains with complex emotions, and crazy new features like imagination and memory?

Rather than spending their whole research budget on googling “sports and testosterone,” these potatoes should have done some research about who the Mets are. They should have done some research about the kinds of personalities who are left in the diminished fan base. To root for the Mets at this point, you practically have to be maternal. All that is left is people who can love and forgive, who can cry and be loyal long after all rational reasons for loyalty have faded away. This isn’t a team, and SNY isn’t a station for chest-beaters who want to sink their incisors into the raw meat of the kill. Everybody like that is already over at the YES network. Testosterone doesn’t do Mets fans any good. Estrogen might.

I get so disillusioned when I read a story like this. Seriously, I sometimes wonder if there is a point when even I will finally have had enough. The Mets have so much to build upon. They have one of the richest cultures of any baseball team. So, in this time of transition, when they could be cultivating that richness, reaching out to the fascinating men and women who are their diehards, what do they do? They turn to an expensive ad agency that comes up with the idea that to succeed they need to re-position themselves as if they were Spike TV. You know what, guys? If you ever Spik-ify Mets announcing and programming, if you continue to not appreciate the fact that you have first-place fans following a last-place team, you’re going to lose me, and everybody else who is not going to be amused by lame commercials about SNY spiking your testosterone. And if you lose us, you’re not going to have millions of horny, muscular, young, demographically desirable men watching your TV station. If you lose us, you’re going to have nothing.