Omar? Jerry? The Wilpons? The Met fans? Or all the above?
The talk has been out there for months, specifically since the Madoff scandal that supposedly and was purported to have crippled the Mets in their 2010 spending. But now, with the onset of the Phillies-Astros trade for Roy Oswalt, the debate has risen to a fever pitch and the battle lines are clearly drawn. But where does the fault, if any, actually lie in the dormancy or inability to make quality moves to improve this big league team this year? Although the opinions are many, with many Met fans having no opinion one way or another, conceding the season as a lost cause, many are divided firmly between management simply unwilling to spend money because the Madoff scandal and the lost dollars have hurt them more than they are letting on or the growing popular opinion that Wilpon and Co. will not spend more money to improve a team that the fan base has not shown consistent support for. This support, of course, in the form of attendance.
Let’s get real: We know it and fans even on this site have threatened to boycott the team in regards to spending money on tickets or even watching the games on TV as long as management refuses to improve the team significantly. Whether these fans actually have the guts to do that and stick to their guns is another story. As a matter of fact, some of this growing debate highlights just how fickle Met fans can be. I have the utmost respect for the fan that is unhappy with the team’s direction and doesn’t cower under the public pressure of their peers and demands change. It’s the “other fans” that trade their orange and blue for the pinstripes when it suits them. When the team is riding high, they are shouting the loudest how they are diehard fans. Please stop using that word if you don’t know what it means. Diehard fans suffer physically, mentally, and emotionally and cry for this team, the team of their youth. It may sound extreme but that’s what it is. They love the orange and blue, they respect what it stands for and those that have worn it with pride. They want this team to win and build the legacy that they sometimes can only witness across town. They are Mets fans until the day they die. They teach their kids to be Met fans. They even paint their homes orange and blue. They wear facepaint and they buy paraphenalia, programs, t-shirts, season tickets, jerseys, hats, bobbleheads, etc, flooding their workplaces, license plates on their cars, and rooms in their homes to display Mets pride. They may not be happy with the current view of our team but they don’t double dip. I would say that they are always at the stadium during home games but they have good reason to not be right now: Things are not what they should be and the fans have reason to be upset with the results as their competitors keep improving while we sit and watch as bystanders.
The Mets attendance has slipped considerably:
The attendance slipping is not really news. You can watch any given game and see the empty seats most nights. So do the Wilpons really have financial problems that will make it impossible to improve this team now and in the near future? Or are they withholding their funds because they can clearly see that the fan base will not support the team consistently whether they are winning or not? It’s been a year since the Mets moved into their new 800 million dollar stadium and not long ago, bore the best home record for victories in all the majors but this never translated into success at the box-office. There’s even been a pervading thought that the Met fans are rebelling against the efforts by the team to make the stadium fan-friendly and honor the tradition of the Orange and Blue effectively. Maybe but I doubt it’s as simple as that. Is the business really suffering that much? Are the fans showing a lack of support for their team that is required, good times and bad? In my humble opinion, and from my own experiences as a native New Yorker, I can’t say that Met fans have the best reputation in the world. We haven’t always had the best teams in the past but that’s not the best excuse for some of the capriciousness in our fan base.
Chicago Cubs fans are legendary for loving their team no matter what the scoreboard says, or how many consecutive days the home team trails the division leader. Kids who can’t get tickets wait for home run balls on Sheffield Avenue. And regardless of how many beers the bleacher bums consume, no one forgets the words to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The Texas Rangers and The Boston Red Sox are constant in attendance even in their lean years. Twins, in 2001, were selling tickets for $9.55 with a winning team and barely 20,000 fans showed up while the Tigers had the worst team that same year and paid $23.90 a ticket. For perspective, Forbes had an article on the best and worst baseball fans in America. Guess who was the 9th worst in the league? How far does our fandom really go?
I played the optimist on this site many times because I wanted to give the team an opportunity to play some games before making a decision about what they are going to do or not do. We are past the All Star Break at about six or seven games back and have essentially allowed all the potent free agent pitching to be nabbed by other teams, even division contenders, who are loading up for a battle in the NL East. That is unacceptable to me and I’m not afraid to say that I’m ticked and very concerned. If you were running this business of the New York Mets, would you see putting money into big name free agents and huge improvements as a wise investment when the fans are not coming out to the park? Like the song lyric says, “What would it take to make you stay?”
LGM…but there are still some serious problems out there that have to be addressed if a title is in the future.