Monday, April 5, 2010

Opening Day is a great day, even for Met fans

I can't wait for the Mets to take the field for the first game of the 2010 season. But according to the New York Times' George Vecsey, I am making a huge mistake:

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!


Jillian. Nerd Queen. Awesome Personified. said...

Amen, Jon. Let the naysayers have their nay. It's Opening Day, and the Mets are about to play. Woo!

The Omnipotent Q said...

Good column, Jon. More and more I refuse to read NY sportswriters. And some of these writers in general I consider to be lower on the evolutionary scale than politicians and lawyers.

Let's Go Mets!

Tex said...

If you think Madoff ran a huge scam, Amway has ripped off millions of people for several decades, to the tune of 10s of billions of dollars.

Amway is a scam, and here's why: Amway pays out as little money as they can get away with, so they support the higher level IBOs ripping off their downline via the tool scam.

As a result, about 99% of IBOs operate at a net loss, while the top 1% make several TIMES more from their Amway tool scam than from the Amway products. This was made illegal in the UK in 2008, but our FTC is unable to pull their heads out of their butts to stop it here.

Read about it on this website: and forward the information to everyone you know, so they don't get scammed.

Ryan O said...

Good column Jon, but im going to have to side with Tex on this one.

Uncle Mike said...

Well, no team is truly hopeless, because every owner can spend as much as the Yankees -- if they couldn't, they wouldn't have been able to buy the team, would they?

Look at Kansas City: David Glass married into the Walton family of Wal-Mart perfidy. He can buy and sell George Steinbrenner. Yet he won't spend enough on his team.

Look at Detroit: Mike Ilitch owns Little Caesar's, and was happy to spend money on the Red Wings. Result: 4 Stanley Cups, plus 2 other trips to the Finals, and always a threat for another. But he never spent on the Tigers. Result: Several lousy seasons, including one of 119 losses and another of 109 -- Holy Choo Choo Coleman, Batman! Then he started spending on the Tigers. Result: A Pennant, and nearly another postseason berth last season, and they have a decent shot at one this season.

Granted, spending a lot of money on a team guarantees nothing. Look at that National League team that has spent so much and won no Pennants for ages. You know, the most beloved team New York ever had. You know -- the Dodgers. So it helps to spend wisely.

But the money is there for all 30 teams. The will is not, as most of these guys are looking to make money, forgetting that nothing makes more money than winning. Idiots. I give the Wilpons credit for this: They want to win, and are not afraid to spend. They just need to give the money to someone who understands how winning baseball is played, and Omar Minaya isn't it.

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