A Visit With Jolly Ole’ Saint Nick
Around the North Pole, Santa and his elves are scurrying around filling last minute orders and loading up the sleigh for his annual magical trek. Old Saint Nick, a baseball fan dating back to when the game was called “Rounders,” hasn’t forgotten to include some keepsakes for the kids who dream about the beloved game.
Moreover, he realizes that baseball is still very relevant because the embers of the Hot Stove burn bright this time of year. That is why he has packed another NL Pennant for the Phillies, and gift-wrapped the game’s best pitcher, Roy Halladay, to be dropped over Citizen’s Bank Ballpark when he zips over Philadelphia.
Also during his deliveries, he will deposit a 30-home run centerfielder, and a box full of shiny Championship Rings over the new palace in the South Bronx. From there, the GPS directs him to Queens and another gleaming ballpark, for his annual gift to the Mets.
In past years there have been some beauties tossed down (aimed a little further afield toward what was Shea Stadium), such as Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana. Great gifts for the ravenous faithful.
Sadly, this year Santa is delivering a bag of coal to Mets fans. He feels the organization has been putrid and the fans deserve better, but rules are rules. You constantly deceive your fan base and the result is the aforementioned coal for those who aren’t nice.
The team’s fearless leader, Omar Minaya is merely a two-faced stooge, Santa realizes. He knows the owner’s of the team purport to want the fans to be happy and excited about putting this horrendous baseball year to bed and replenish a toy chest full of broken toys with sleek brand new ones.
But why Saint Nick ponders, “can’t they get the check up to the North Pole already (haven’t they heard of Fed Ex or UPS?)
The fact is, they are stonewalling Santa, and worse yet, Mets fans. The bearded one (a Mets fans since ’62) would love to drop off new toys that can throw strikes, field routine grounders, corral game-ending pop-ups to the hated cross-town rivals, and not run the bases as if someone forgot to wind them up full throttle.
He would love to direct the elves’ to load up Matt Holliday for the Holidays, or a needed stud pitcher, such as John Lackey, but he was re-routed to Boston. Heck, he wanted to put a bow on Jason Marquis, but with the Mets “wait and see” mantra, a pitcher who is money in the bank to accrue 200 innings of interest got tired of waiting and signed with the Nationals.
Can’t blame him even though the Staten Island native was openly clamoring to return home. At $7.5 a year for two, he would have been an upgrade over John Maine, Mike Pelfrey, and of course, Ollie Perez.
Even the Marlins, a team that annually sells off talent to save bucks has made an offer to young left-hander Cuban defector, Aroldis Chapman, before the Mets have. By the way, Santa is not happy with Jason Bay either.
He knows there are plenty of hard-working elves struggling to put food on the table this holiday season and $65 million should be more than enough lettuce to make a bountiful salad. “What is holding up the works,” he muses.
Again, Mets management cannot distinguish between right and wrong. Why tie up that much money in a player who will not bear fruit after two-maybe-three years, and hamstrung the next general manager? How about pulling the offer and then re-submitting it at a significant reduction?
Mets fans don’t root for players who don’t want to play in New York. These long-suffering loyal fans only ask for an honest day’s work when you step between the white lines here. We can see right through the players who are only here for the money (sadly, too many of them).
At this point of free-agency, start limiting the contract talks to two-years max, so if we have a dreaded repeat of 2009 next spring, the next leader (and there will be one before Memorial Day, it says here) can implode the roster and rebuild.
Santa knows baseball and he knows the Mets missed the boat by not shoring up an awful pitching staff. He only tunes in on satellite when Santana pitches, and remembers vividly the excitement the fans felt when he delivered that special package. He understands that acquiring Bengie Molina (who Santa wants as a fill-in because he won’t have to make alterations to his red suit) is not enough to get the fans stoked (and buying tickets).
So, reluctantly as he soars over Flushing Bay on Thursday night, he drops a bag of coal over Citi Field, and an overstuffed one to boot. The cookies and milk will still be waiting Old Saint Nick, because Mets fans know exactly whom to blame.
Wishing all the people who write and read the thoughts on this site a healthy 2010. We always have each other to commiserate with and hopefully someday celebrate together. So don’t get too worked up about Omar and the Wilpons, and that the Yankees have lapped us again. We are the bedrock of the Mets organization, and without us there would be another major league baseball team in California, I suppose.
Spring will spark new enthusiasm for the coming baseball year-it always does.
About the Author: Doug Branch
Doug has been sports writing since 1983. He first wrote about the Mets at spring training that year, and his first interviewee was surly catcher Ron Hodges. He currently writes for Mets Inside Pitch, among other magazines published by Scout Publishing-which is owned by Fox Sports. He began following the team during the Wes Westrum era, and redeemed many Borden milk coupons for free Saturday baseball. The night of Tom Seaver's imperfect game against the Cubs, he was in line to buy a ticket when the windows slammed shut and abject disappointment ensued.
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