Commenting on sports is a fickle business. We all have an opinion and every one of them is valid. However, over the past few months and maybe even years, there has been a lot of vitriol lobbed at the Mets from multiple angles. Not surprisingly it has come from outside commentators like sports reporters, media analysts, television hosts, bloggers and opposing fans. More notably there has been a disconnect from the Mets fan base themselves, and that is slightly worrying.
The arguments for being upset with the ownership, management, coaching and medical staff are all solid. This organization had a prime opportunity to win a World Series back in 2006 before falling to the St. Louis Cardinals in a game for the ages. Endy Chavez’s catch against the wall is still engrained in most Met fans’ minds. Since then we fans have seen a steady decline in on-field production, and team investment. We’ve seen star players get hurt and prospects never make it. We spent money, badly. We tried to emulate what other teams were doing and for the past near decade the Mets have been the butt of a lot of jokes.
There is reason to hope, though. It’s only been four and a half months since Matt Harvey went under the knife for Tommy John surgery, and he’s already back in Spring Training, trying to recover from a devastating injury. Fans are flocking to see him down in Florida, but they are also doing the same for Noah Syndergaard. And there are plenty of other players Met fans can be truly excited about. For the first time in what feels like an eon, the product on the field has a chance to surpass expectations. Of course it might not, but that’s the story with every team. Why this is different for the Mets is because they are getting back to who they are. Gone are the days of huge signing to save face in New York’s anxious win-now mentality. Returning is the idea that we can grow our next Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman or Dwight Gooden.
The Mets franchise has always been about pitching, and even a cursory glance at the farm system can tell you that the team has a good chance to develop most of the young talent they have. Of course there will be busts and injuries, and maybe we don’t have enough lefties or impact bats or whatever complaint we want to lob at the wall and see if it sticks. The point is there is always something wrong, focusing on what’s right is the only way forward.
So Harvey threw some pitches the other day and people are getting worried because he said he wanted to pitch this year. There is panic he’s being rushed back. Then Nelson Cruz signs a one-year deal and suddenly everyone is down on Chris Young again. Although I’m not sure if anyone was ever up on him, that poor guy. Then it’s Stephen Drew again, and then Ike Davis and the Mike Puma article, and on and on it goes. This seems to be the winter of “Well how come we didn’t do that?” It’s the old problem of the grass is always greener. But down in Florida, the grass is looking pretty green right now.
We’ve all been put in bad moods by just how badly the Mets played these past few years. We all want the turnaround to come sooner rather than later. Yet, I see progress. It’s painfully slow at times, but it’s progress nonetheless. Harvey threw a baseball 20 times. It’s tedious, but it’s something. It’s a no-hitter in the making. To quote Bill Murray from What About Bob?, it’s “Baby steps.”