I finally got around to reading R.A. Dickey’s book and one part stood out to me. Dickey talked about conquering fears and managing regrets. I don’t know if this is something he came up with himself or if it is merely therapist-speak – both seem equally likely – but I thought it was a nice phrase and I think it can be applied to fans of the 2013 Mets, too.
It seems to me that you could come up with a bunch of things to put in this category but they essentially boil down to two things:
1. Do the Mets have enough money to compete for titles?
2. Is Sandy Alderson the right guy to be in charge?
As for the first item, it certainly isn’t as much fun to be competing with a $95 million payroll when the memories of a $149 million payroll are so fresh in our minds. I will not argue that a big-market team should not have a big-market payroll. But if you want to conquer this fear, take a look at the last 10 World Series winners. Eight of the 10 winners had a payroll no greater than $127 million compared to two clubs that clearly were in the high-roller district. Here they are by year, ranked by Opening Day numbers, all rounded to nearest million:
2011 – Cardinals – 109
2010 – Giants – 96
2009 – Yankees – 201
2008 – Phillies – 98
2007 – Red Sox – 143
2006 – Cardinals – 89
2005 – White Sox – 75
2004 – Red Sox – 127
2003 – Marlins – 45
2002 – Angels – 62
Even if you do not agree with considering $127 million on a par with what the 2013 Mets are likely to have, six of the last 10 World Series winners had an Opening Day payroll under $100 million. The payroll number alone does not doom the club to also-ran status.
As for the second item, a whole lot more people are fearful about this now than they were at either the start of the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Alderson came in to much fanfare and then seemingly hit home runs with both the 2011 Draft and picking up the highly-regarded Zack Wheeler for a two-month rental, to say nothing of avoiding Francisco Rodriguez’ 2012 option while also getting two interesting arms in return.
But after letting Jose Reyes leave for draft picks, failing miserably by putting all of his 2012 budget into the bullpen, sitting on his hands at the All-Star break, and the uninspiring 2012 Draft, Alderson has many more critics than he did just a season ago. With big decisions looming on both Dickey and David Wright, how confident are you that Alderson will make the right keep/trade call? Even if he makes the alleged correct decision to trade either or both of the team’s stars – how convinced are you that he will make a good deal?
To me, this fear will not be so equally conquered. Just remember that according to Dr. Michael Herkov, even brief therapy can range up to 25 sessions.
This list will probably have different lengths and different items for each person reading this. Just know that we’re planning an intervention for 7train/7rain to help him manage his farm system regrets. I hope Ruben Tejada’s fine season helped many get over their regrets about Reyes leaving. I know that some of you are still mad about Carlos Beltran not swinging at that pitch in the 2006 NLCS and I hope you can manage that, too.
I guess my biggest regret is that Nelson Doubleday made a careless error that cleared the way for Fred Wilpon to take over the team. Maybe it was inevitable, that Doubleday would have sold out to Wilpon at some point (pre-Madoff revelation, at least) but in my alternate Mets universe, Doubleday is still the owner or maybe he sold last year to David Einhorn.
The way I manage that regret, I guess, is that deep down I know that Fred Wilpon cares. He may not go about showing it in the best way possible, but his fault lies in execution, which seems better than having no passion for the club at all. As bad as he is, I’d rather have Wilpon than some individual or corporation that was all bottom line. Yes, the current version is certainly about the bottom line, but that’s out of necessity and not pure greed.
Awhile ago, most Mets fans were lamenting that Wilpon stayed while MLB forced Frank McCourt to sell the Dodgers. Now the Dodgers have well-capitalized ownership, who immediately began to throw around some financial muscle, as their blockbuster trade added somewhere around $275 million to their payroll.
And how did that work out for them this year? They were home during the playoffs, just like the Mets. If Carl Crawford doesn’t bounce back, this could be an epic fail for the Dodgers’ franchise.
Whether you classify it as conquering fear or managing regret, the bottom line is that the Mets of this decade would never execute a trade like the Dodgers did this past August. LA rolled the dice and from all indications they crapped out. So, do you want to be a fan of a team that approaches things recklessly, that makes high-risk, high-reward moves? Or would you rather be prudent and spend the time on a more sustainable model of success?
Now if only Dickey will be around to help us along with this fear/regret thing…