With the holidays coming to a close, the annual tradition of evaluating our lives and resolving to make them better has begun. Of course, I am referring to New Year’s resolutions. While on a personal level, this can be an important step, we never seem to make a resolution as sports fans. Why wouldn’t we strive to improve our fanhood? In the New York Mets, we have a team that has more potential talent in the minors than actual proven talent in the majors. As fans, we have been clamoring for years for this team to get better. While it has taken time, and will take some more time as well, the future is better than the present. With this in mind, here are three resolutions that we, as Mets fans, should be making to our team and ourselves for 2013.
3. Be Supportive – For years, we have heard fans scream about the Wilpons and voice their displeasure for the product provided on the field. Many of those fans have claimed that they are or will boycott games. Why? Does that help the players currently on the roster? I never understood this perspective. Sure, it is a little less money in the Mets’ pockets, but it’s more like cutting off our own nose just to spite our face. We want the team to spend. We want them to be successful. That takes money. The less they make, they less they spend.
While it’s true that season ticket sales numbers are mainly predictable early in the season when the team knows how many are sold, the individual ticket sales still have an impact on the team. The most important impact that I can think of is to that of the players. How do you think David Wright feels when he looks out and sees a whopping 13,000+ in the stands? Or Johan Santana taking the mound to a roaring crowd of 15,000+ on a weekend start? Makes you wonder how they do well at their job at all.
And I don’t buy into the argument that they get paid well and the money is motivation enough. If that was true, Alex Rodriguez would be a 15 time World Series MVP. The crowd matters. Momentum and positive energy matters. Show up to Citi Field. Make some noise. Be supportive of those players that DID sign with the Mets. They’ll show more heart when the fans do.
2. Be Optimistic – A few years ago, the Mets were a laughing stock of not just all of baseball, but all of sports. It wasn’t too long ago: the Madoff scandal, the Omar Minaya debacles (plural because there are so many to choose from) and no talent in the system at all. In just a few short years, Sandy Alderson has changed all of that. While the tangible product has not shown immediate success, there are many reasons to be positive going forward. One, they have not overspent on the free agent market for talent. Two, they have drafted wisely. Three, they have traded their aging stars at the pinnacle of their trade value for higher value than anticipated in return. As a result of these, they are younger and smarter as an organization.
This is all due to Sandy Alderson. While it was not a popular choice to let MLB Commissioner Bud Selig hand pick our new GM, it has been a breath of fresh air. He is no nonsense and knows how to build a winner long-term. First, at this present time, we no longer have Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Jason Bay, Francisco Rodriguez or Jose Reyes (just to name a few) and all of their enormous contracts. While we miss the talent (sometimes), we all can admit that they are better off now without these deals weighing them down.
Next, did anyone think the Mets would get Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer in the draft? Both will be sure MLB talent in the next few years. For every Nimmo and Fulmer, however, there are a dozen others the Mets have drafted that have just as good of a chance to make it to the show. They may not make it as All Stars or five-tool studs, but they are just as important to a team succeeding. I am talking about role players, bullpen pitchers, etc. How many teams have had major success without these types? None. They are a necessity and that is what you truly use to build your team.
Finally, Did anyone really think the San Francisco Giants would trade their highest pitching chip for Carlos Beltran? At the time, no one did. Alderson did. And he didn’t stop until he got Zack Wheeler to pair with Matt Harvey for the future. Did anyone think he could trade R.A. Dickey (at his highest point) with Josh Thole and get not one, but two major prospects, a solid middle tier prospect and an MLB catcher in return? After seeing the Beltran deal, we should have, but I am sure no one saw that coming either.
The point is, the Mets are now in a position where they recognize the talent they have and lock it up (see David Wright or Jon Neise) or deal it for younger talent when they feel the time is just right. They have not been in this position for a very, very long time. It’s all due to the plan that Sandy Alderson and his team have set forth. It will pay dividends. Which brings me to my final resolution.
1. Be Patient – It’s easy to cheer for a winning team that spends $200 Million every year. It’s a far different level of true fandom to cheer for a team like the Mets. They are more like the common person. They have made mistake after mistake after mistake but they still keep fighting. They still keep trying. Sometimes they learn from their mistakes, sometimes they have to repeat them. Lately, they have learned. It’s not easy to see a team that has more talent waiting to be groomed than what is actually groomed. It’s even more difficult to see that team and not get upset over the current product.
However, when deciphering the Mets, we have to see the bigger picture. We have to realize that they are building something that can last for years. This is how Atlanta did it in the 90′s. This is how the A’s did it in the late 80′s. They built long-term by trading away talent and grooming youth properly with precise timing. To do so, it takes a very patient management and an even more patient fan base. The Mets are almost there. They are just a year or so away from seeing the majority of their top-tier talent making their MLB debuts. If you thought Matt Harvey debuting was terrific, imagine going through that another half a dozen times or so within the next two years.
That is the reality of the Mets these days. There is hope. Hope doesn’t always come instantaneously. In fact, it never does. Anything that is worth it takes time. Let’s just resolve to sit back and enjoy the growth this season with high hopes in anticipation for enjoying the future of this team. Success is coming!! Happy New Year readers!!