Yesterday, our own esteemed Brian Joura posted a lengthy, thoughtful article on how we fans could be dealing with the current state of the Mets. So far, we’re not dealing so hot. Now, let’s be real: owners Jeff and Fred Wilpon and GM Sandy Alderson haven’t given us much to work with so far this winter. While the team across town has added NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to their already-formidable roster, and are purportedly in negotiations to bring in All-Star infielder Manny Machado and talented young starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, the Mets have had to be contented with middle-reliever Anthony Swarzak and a rumor of bringing in aged first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Other players the Mets have been “strongly linked to” have ended up elsewhere: Bryan Shaw, Evan Longoria, Ian Kinsler and the like. It appears for all the world as if the other 29 teams in MLB are improving daily and the Mets are stuck in the swamp.
What’s a fan to do?
Well, some are fighting back – symbolically, if nothing else. There are Twitter movements afoot and petitions to sign and boycotts to join and all manner of social unrest to in which to engage. All that may make us feel better, but it is doubtful that any of that shouting-at-the-rain will make any difference. As has been pointed out so many times, correlation does not equal causation: the Mets didn’t get to the World Series in 2015 because a group of fans ponied up to erect a series of “Sell The Team!” billboards in Port St. Lucie and Flushing. No, they got there because nearly everything broke right for the starting pitching staff and the team was able to stay close enough in the race to warrant lineup improvement at the trading deadline. So, see? Management can function on a Major League level if they put their collective mind to it.
From over here, the problem is transparency, and has been for a long time. Say what you will about the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, but their fans always knew where he stood. His aim was always winning. Now, the same may be true for the Wilpon family. Former GM Steve Phillips worked for this organization in one form or other for 15 years and he recently took to Twitter himself to defend Mets’ ownership, calling them, in effect, the Mets’ biggest fans. Unless we “regular” fans are working side-by-side with them, we’d never know it. We get all kinds of platitudes about being “competitive,” and “meaningful games in September,” and building “sustainable success.” As we all know, actions should get more volume and their actions have consistently fallen short of the mark.
The Wilpons have owned the team for almost 38 years, now, and in that time, they’ve given us one World Championship, two NL Pennants and four other playoff appearances. Seven post-season parties in 38 years: not the best percentage. Back in 1977, when the Mets’ golden child Tom Seaver was on the verge of being hustled out of town, he noted that “Mets fans want a winner,” and the truly odious ownership of the time blithely refused to give us one, using some honest to goodness horse-and-buggy thinking. The Wilpons? Sometimes they get it right.
Just not often enough to please us.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieHangley.