Reverting Back to “You Gotta Believe”
In 2005, the Mets fan was generally an optimistic one. Sure, we as fans were still getting over the bitter Subway Series defeat. Yet, the idea that somebody fresh and new was coming in to take over the Mets and build a team around our two young potential stars in Jose Reyes and David Wright allowed any Mets fan I know to be patient, but more importantly optimistic.
The ideas of a “plan”, or value of player contracts never once came up in any conversation I ever had.
When Omar Minaya was hired it was because he was the right guy for the job. He was eager, and excited to take the Mets to new heights. The Mets saw an opportunity to POSSIBLY be New York’s team once again if everything was done right. David Wright & Jose Reyes were going to be the toast of the town – and Minaya was going to bring in the right guys to make sure that happened.
What Mets fan wasn’t beside themselves with excitement when Pedro Martinez was signed? You can use hindsight all you want – but that was a big move. This was Pedro Martinez, in my mind the most dominant pitcher of his era wearing a Mets uniform. Sure, he was 33, but every start he had was “must see.”
That move set the tone for this franchise moving away from the “same old Mets.” Then, Carlos Beltran, the 28 year old quiet but formidable center fielder was brought in after his 8 post season homeruns made the baseball world aware of his talent.
Fast forward to Endy Chavez’s catch. I remember where I was, when it happened and how I reacted. I was sure the Mets were going to the World Series after that. Weren’t you?
We all know what happened next. A downward spiral towards heart break in 2007 followed by the team stepping on our hearts in 2008 just to make sure we were not alive anymore. Up until Atlanta and Boston decided to collapse on their own, it was the worst collapse (twice) I ever remember seeing as a sports fan.
In 2009, I came to MetsMerizedOnline somehow, some way. I honestly have no idea how I found MMO – but I know why I landed here.
Omar Minaya had just gotten into a public spat with reporter Adam Rubin and the damage to Minaya’s image was done. I came here to defend Minaya, and wrote a Fan Post which later spring boarded me into being a full time writer here.
I defended Minaya because he was the GM of my favorite team and felt he was being treated unfairly. At that moment – I believe the Mets fan base in my eyes changed dramatically.
The 2009 season gave Mets fans no reason to be anything but negative. It turned an optimistic “you gotta believe” fan base into a fan base that would soon be divided into many different groups.
Later on, the writing was on the wall. It had been 6 seasons and only 1 playoff appearance and Minaya had to go. The job search seemed to be extension for his replacement, but anybody who understands Bud Selig’s relationship with Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon’s should understand that it was Alderson’s job for a reason.
It was at this moment that the divide between Mets fans turned into the Grand Canyon. Sure, there were some that were willing to see what he’d do first – but there were so many (mostly younger) fans who were excited about the “new way” of thinking that Alderson and his staff would bring to the Mets.
They became obsessed with player contracts, not because they care about the Wilpon’s financial well-being, but likely because they understood that it’s hard to spend money on baseball players when you are in the middle of a $1billion lawsuit for possibly taking part in the largest Ponzi scheme this country has ever seen.
The day Jose Reyes signed with Miami was the end of Mets fans being able to celebrate together. The young superstar we all hoped would define what this franchise could be all about walked off the field in game 162, never to be seen in a Mets uniform again.
If you spend any time on any Mets related blog/fan site you know what I mean when I speak of this divide. If you spend any time following any outspoken Mets fans on Twitter, you know what I mean when I speak of this divide.
Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where we all are not just fans anymore. There is no common bond between those you interact with on Al Gore’s internet with regards to your favorite baseball team.
Every move, every non-move, every play, every bullpen decision, every call up or send down will be diagnosed and in an instant, will have generally two sides thinking that it should have been done differently than the other side.
That is what is great about baseball. That’s why the Hall of Fame is great. The Hall of Fame is an amazing barometer for baseball discussion because rarely is anybody ever 100% right. You can have an honest and fair discussion right now about whether Jack Morris should be in the Hall of Fame and both arguments could be respected.
At some point in the Mets fan base, whether it be the day Minaya and Rubin got in their spat, the day Tom Glavine collapsed, the day Alderson made his first move or the day Jose Reyes left New York – the discussion went in many cases from “baseball” to “personal.”
No longer was your opinion on a game looked at as just another way to look at the game, instead it turned into an opportunity to get personal with those who disagree with you. I’m guilty of it to, and I’d wager a large percent of the people reading this are as well.
I am not a professional writer, I have no aspirations of being a writer – I’m just a 30 something guy, dad of 2, a non-profit employee, and passionate baseball fan. I come here because I love to talk about the game of baseball, but at some point many of those who disagree with me have taken that passion away and resorted to personal attacks not only against myself, but against this very website.
Defaming people because they view a baseball team differently than you is exactly what is wrong with our internet based society today. That in it of itself is proof that what is wrong with the social media aspect of being a sports fan is that is allows people to spew out hateful words they normally would never say if there was no keyboard in front of them.
Whether it’s a disagreement against me, or somebody who sees things differently than I – in either case, it’s wrong.
This is by far and away the greatest Mets fan site around and I am lucky to be considered a small part of it. I don’t think many of you realize just how hard guys like Joe work to make this site what it is. I’ve informed Joe D that I will step away from this website for the time being with the hope of maybe one day returning.
To the fans that have always respected me and given me their feedback whether in agreeable or disagreeable fashion, I thank you.
To those few who seek out my opinions, not to discuss them but to use them against my character – I also thank you.
Because of you, I’ve been able to revert back to the way I felt about this franchise back in 2005. Where hope, optimism and enjoyment for the game reigned supreme. I only hope that you yourself can find that same “you gotta believe” mentality once again.
Because of you, I’ve learned to further understand that baseball is a game that none of us have any control over and I’m lucky that I live a life in which my favorite baseball team’s W-L record doesn’t change who I am or how I enjoy my life every day.
Regardless of who you are, thanks for letting me chat about the game I love with you for so many years.
The Mets are embarking on a potentially special time, and right now there are so many fans whether here, other sites or on twitter that will miss out on what we as fans deserve because they are too focused on the details and not the outcome.
Their focus is not on enjoying the team they grew up being a fan of, but simply on those they disagree with – whether it be the General Manager, other fans or the former General Manager. My best advice no matter the side of the fence you’re on, start enjoying the game again, because that is what I’m going to do.
I’ll leave you with this…
Last night, when I got home from work my two year old ran to me and said “I want to go play baseball.”
Up until this point I’ve never asked her or even mentioned the idea of playing baseball. She has a Mets t-shirt and has watched a few games here and there – but for some reason, yesterday was the day she wanted to play.
So we went in the backyard (I couldn’t get changed fast enough) and she didn’t want to be the hitter, she wanted to be the pitcher.
So she’d throw the ball to me as best she could and I would hit it (crush it) with a whiffle ball bat. Then, we’d run as fast as we could to the ball to see who could pick it up first. She always won because I would “just miss” getting the ball.
What many fans do not understand is that moment from the time I walked in the door to the very first swing of the bat is what baseball is supposed to be all about.
That moment awakened me to realize there are so many more aspects to the game that arguing about sabermetrics, managers or free agents just loses sight of.
So tomorrow, you’ll find somebody else to attack because they disagree with how you view the sport of baseball – but you won’t find me because I’ll be in the backyard playing catch with my daughter.
About the Author: Michael J. Branda
My time with MMO began in July of 2009 when I wrote a Fan Post defending Omar Minaya (before it was cool to do that.) I grew up a Mets fan with the mid 1980's teams. My favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, I like to think I meet in the middle. I believe thinking of new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the same way has not produced results. However, I think over-thinking certain situations can get you into trouble. I'm excited for the new regime, because I believe they have pieces in place to focus on several aspects of the Mets organization. I've waited this long for a World Series, waiting a few more years for another chance isn't going to kill me.
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