It’s my first morning back home after spending three days in Saratoga, NY where some of my family resides and where we celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s always nice when the entire family gets together again for those 2-3 occasions a year where we eat, have fun, and catch up with everyone on everything. I come from a family whose loyalties are evenly divided at 50/50 when it comes to being a Mets or Yankees fan, and for all the guys, baseball and football talk rules the roost at these rare family gatherings.
The last time I saw most of my cousins was last Easter weekend. Back then we all had many of the same concerns we have now, but were excited that the 2012 season had just gotten underway. For a couple of days we scrutinized all of the offseason moves like losing Jose Reyes, the Frank Francisco signing and of course the Angel Pagan trade, and all 7-8 of us were relieved that the Madoff Lawsuit had been settled. I’d say everyone in the room including myself felt bad for Sandy Alderson and the situation he inherited, but as die-hard Met fans we were mostly focused at what was happening on the field. The Mets won that day as we beat the Braves 7-5 and they were off to a 3-0 start. Tejada had four hits in the game, Jon Niese picked up his first win of the season, and Francisco got the save. It was a great game.
However, this weekend the mood was much more somber. We reminisced about the Johan Santana no-hitter and about the great season R.A. Dickey had, but there was a lot of tension and pent up frustration in the air. Soon the conversation shifted to the direction of the team, and it seemed whatever sympathy points Sandy Alderson had built up over his first two years? They were now clearly spent and gone.
We all agreed he bailed out on the team at the trade deadline. When he didn’t respond to the Frank Francisco injury followed by Santana going on the DL and then losing Dillon Gee, the enjoyment of the season essentially ended for us. We all sensed how things were going to go after that and the Mets, with no able-bodied help on the way, went into a tailspin that ended all wild card hopes and decimated the rest of their season. For many of us, the team had lost their motivation, enthusiasm and will to win.
I don’t know how the people in your extended Mets family feel, but after the last few days I came away with the feeling that there has been a seismic shift in how we feel about Sandy Alderson and how he’s being viewed now. We are all watching this offseason like hawks. We all heard the promises made, we have seen the evidence that the Wilpons are on their way to fiscal health, and our tolerance for failure and a lack of trying is now down to zero. This offseason is all on Alderson. All of it.
The hot stove season is already underway, and we are hoping to see if the GM holds true to his promises. We are looking for him to apply all the experience he’s accrued in his baseball career, and using all these much heralded player evaluation skills he’s received so much acclaim for. We’re giving him a pass on that awful Angel Pagan trade, and bad signings like Francisco, Rauch, Paulino, just about all of them save Scotty Hairston. But one thing is certain, unlike his first two years running the Mets, there will be an accountability for the 2013 season that wasn’t there before. He will be held reponsible for how the 2013 season plays out.
I like Sandy, but for his sake and the future of this team, I hope he realizes how much is riding on this offseason as compared to his first two. I don’t believe my family is very unique in expecting more from him. I’m starting to believe that many Mets fans are feeling the same exact way. There is definitely a disturbance in the Force.