The Mets have become irrelevant. Their fans won't think so, bless their hearts.
For a longtime columnist at the paper of record, Vecsey seems to have forgotten what a fan is. For the diehard fan, their team is never irrelevant. Irritating? Frustrating? Maddening? All of those and more. But never irrelevant.
Vecsey opens his screed with a quote from Dante's Inferno: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."
Imagine if that quote came from Joe Benigno or a Mets blogger. It would be dismissed as the ranting of an overwrought Mets fan. Yet here is Vecsey, dismissing the Mets and overreacting to them at the same time.
In Vecsey's world, only the fans at the top and bottom of the baseball world have any reason to look forward to Opening Day:
Baseball is usually a joyous time just because the weather brightens. The Yankees open at Fenway Park on Sunday night — those words never really do grow old, do they?...
The sad reality remains that the grand baseball towns like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Kansas City have been shut out of contention because of the cable-television income gap, but fans can always hope for promising rookies, gritty veterans, sweet summer nights, great smells from the concession stands, fireworks after the game.
Sorry, Met fans, you don't get to root for promising rookies, even though the Mets go into this season with more promising rookies than in recent memory - Jon Niese, Jenrry Mejia and Ruben Tejada on the roster, with Ike Davis and Fernando Martinez potential midseason callups.
Those great smells coming from Shake Shack and the other popular concessions stands at Citi Field? Maybe fans should just hold their noses, the way Vecsey would have them do with their team.
Vecsey won't even allow Met fans to enjoy Fireworks Night (perhaps because it has been renamed Pyrotechnics Night).
And yes, Yankees-Red Sox does grow old after a while when ESPN and Fox constantly ram it down our throats. Ideally, the season would get under way and build up to the big confrontation in a few weeks.
While Vecsey happily attacks Met fans for supporting their team, he is much more reluctant to assign blame where it really belongs:
It’s easy to blame ownership, because the franchise does not feel or act as pleasant as it used to. Did Bernie Madoff siphon off too much money and attention span? Could be. Omar Minaya, whom I like, is supposed to be a shrewd judge of talent, but how come Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, who competed for the fifth spot on the Yankees, are better than the second starter on the Mets, whoever that is?
If a franchise is in disarray and we can't blame ownership and upper management, whom can we blame? Minaya gets a pass because Vecsey likes him?
There is plenty to worry about with the Mets this year, and when Vecsey sticks to specific criticisms, he is generally on target. But the point of criticisms is to say, here's what's wrong, here's what needs to be fixed, rather than "abandon hope."
Within a few days, perhaps a few hours, I may well start to abandon hope for a team with a rotation in shambles and a disabled list that is already filling up. Vecsey does not mention Jerry Manuel, who has moved $66M cleanup hitter Jason Bay to the fifth spot so that Mike Jacobs, who was released this past offseason by the Royals (one of those teams that actually is hopeless) can bat fourth. With Alex Cora leading off and Gary Matthews Jr. not only on the team, but in the starting lineup, I may start to abandon hope in the pregame.
But despite what people like Vecsey believe, Opening Day is also a joyous time at Citi Field.
Let's Go Mets!