A New “I Have a Dream” Speech
As more and more information is released about the connection between the Wilpons, Saul Katz and their families to one of the greatest scammers of all time, it is becoming clear that it is not just a minority partner that the club needs, but totally new ownership.
Whether the Wilpons willfully continued dealing with Madoff in spite of what they knew or were blissfully blind to his shenanigans doesn’t matter any more. Either way, they have been revealed to have been greedy, selfish and totally incompetent. That this group was allowed to decide to tear down the beloved, if flawed, Shea Stadium and build a nice, if flawed, new park in Citi Field has turned out to be a travesty.
Actually, the continuing news about how deep the owners were in with Madoff should be regarded by Mets fans as a blessing in disguise. It could lead to what we all would have loved to have happened years ago–that these posers sell the franchise. By the way, now that we know about the timing and the details of the Wilpons involvement with Madoff, can the lost NLCS of 2006, and the disaster collapses of 2007 and 08, and the decimation of the team by injuries in 2009-10, be seen as anything but karmic payback for the owners’ borderline criminal activities?
It has been reported/rumored that a number of potential new owner groups have come forward with interest in buying a part or all of the team, one led by Martin Luther King III. That got me to start fantasizing about a coming press conference in which the son of the great civil rights leader might address the issue with a nod to his father’s famous 1964 speech at the Capital. It might go something like this:
THE “I HAVE A DREAM FOR THE METS” SPEECH
I am happy to speak to you today–in the shadow of Jackie Robinson’s Rotunda tribute at Citi Field–as a potential new owner of the New York Mets. And when that day happens, when the signatures on the transfer of ownership are official, it will go down as the greatest day of relief for Mets fans in history of the franchise.
Almost 50 years ago, a legendary Mets manager anointed the new baseball team in the National League “The Amazin’ Mets. This momentous moniker came to symbolize what became a beloved franchise, which when born came as a joyous daybreak to end the long wait for a new National League team after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants abandoned us.
But almost 50 years later, the Mets fan feels abandoned once again. Fifty years later, the life of the Mets fan has been sadly crippled by the abuses of the Wilpons. Fifty years later, the Mets fan lives on a lonely island, continually subjected to the empty promises of the current owners, their horrendously poor personnel decisions, and having to listen to Mike Francesa mock and demean us. And so we’ve come here today to to offer a ray of hope.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have experienced the heartbreaking disasters of 2007 and 2008. And some of you have suffered from years of watching managers who could not tend to a bullpen. Some of you suffer the ultimate indignity of rooting for a team rendered second-class citizens to the hated New York Yankees.
But I say to you today Mets fans, let us not wallow in the valley of despair and Art Howe.
And so even though we face the prospect that the Wilpons could prevail in keeping their team in spite of their sleazy and greedy dive into the Madoff dark side, even though we face the prospect of more years in second division despair, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the dreams of all Mets fans–since the days of Jane Jarvis, Homer the Dog, Marvelous Marv Throneberry and a Black Cat.
I have a dream that one day this franchise will rise up and live out the true meaning of its theme song: ” . . . Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball; knocking those home runs over the wall.”
I have a dream that one day the ballpark known as “Citi Field” will be called “Seaver Stadium,” in honor of the greatest Mets player of all time.
I have a dream that one day the majestic outfield walls of this park will be lowered and the ridiculously massive spaces of the outfield will be altered so this park will be transformed into an oasis of excitement, runs, and David Wright homers.
I have a dream that families who root for this team will one day be able to come to a ballpark where they will not have to mortgage their home to buy season tickets or spend half of their weekly salary on hot dogs, Shake Shack smoothies and over-priced parking.
I have a dream that one day Mets players will not be judged by the size and length of their contract but by the character of their play.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in the minor leagues, our farm clubs will be filled with the most talented players from all over the world, with no regard to where they fit in a slotting system.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every baseball fundamental shall be exalted and every ground ball shall be run out; that lead off hitters will ignore pitches in the dirt, that pitchers will consistently throw strikes, and that Oliver Perez will find another line of work.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that our new front office management, led by the capable Sandy Alderson and his lieutenants, will be able to negotiate for trades and free agent signings armed with the capital they need to compete with any team in the majors!
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I keep close to my heart as a lover of the national pastime.
With this faith, we will be able to transform our discordant ball club into one that plays the game like a beautiful symphony of teamwork. With this faith, we will be able to cheer together, sing Sweet Caroline together, play between-innings scoreboard video games together, catch T-shirts shot into the sky together, and boo Luis Castillo together, knowing that we will be champions again one day.
And this will be the day — this will be the day when all Mets fan will be able to sing with new meaning:
Meet the Mets, Meet the Mets.
Step right up and greet the Mets,
Bring your kiddies, bring your wife,
Guaranteed to have the time of your life!
And so if the Mets are to be a great franchise, what must become true is that the Wilpon family sell the team in it’s entirety and without hesitation.
So let Mets fan freedom ring from Brooklyn; the borough of churches and trendy new restaurants.
Let Mets fan freedom ring from the rising rentals of Astoria, Queens.
Let Mets fan freedom ring from the shadow of a totally over-the-top Stadium in the Bronx.
Let Mets fan freedom ring from the wealthy precincts of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and the Sarah Palin-despising lefties on Upper West Side.
Let Mets fan freedom ring from the Guidovilles of Staten Island and the Jersey Shore.
Let Mets fan freedom ring on WFAN, SNY and Michael Kay’s pro-Yankees ESPN show.
From every newspaper, magazine and website, let Mets fan freedom ring.
And when this happens, when the Wilpons sell this club and allow Mets fan freedom to ring, we will be able to speed up that day when all Mets fans, TV couch potatoes and stat geeks, web bloggers and Joe Benigno, transplanted New Yorkers in Miami and Jerry Seinfeld, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the great old theme song:
East Side, West Side, Everybody’s Comin’ Down
To Meet the M-E-T-S METS,
Of New York Town!
About the Author: Stephen Hanks
Stephen Hanks (Tom Terrific) is a magazine editor and writer based in Brooklyn, NY, who has been the publisher and editorial director of publications ranging in subjects from sports to health to archaeology. Hanks began his career at the late, great SPORT Magazine in 1977 and in 1983, he co-founded NEW YORK SPORTS Magazine (which ceased publication in 1985). He has written and edited coffee table books on baseball history, penned unauthorized biographies of Bo Jackson and Wayne Gretzky, and in 1990 authored "The Game That Changed Pro Football," an oral history of the 1969 New York Jets Super Bowl Season. Stephen has also played baseball for 45 years and currently plays in an Over-40 hardball league based in Northern New Jersey. Even though he grew up near Yankee Stadium, he loathes the team from the Bronx and has been a die-hard Mets fan since attending his first game at the Polo Grounds in 1963.
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