2014 GM Meetings: Twenty Nine General Managers, One Comedian

An article by posted on November 13, 2013

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Winter 2004. It was a great time to be a Mets fan. As cameras clicked away and members of the press took their seats, all eyes were focused on the recently acquired outfielder. With Jeff Wilpon on one side and wife Jessica on the other, Carlos Beltran donned a Mets cap for the very first time. Suddenly, General Manager Omar Minaya appeared. He rode on to the stage on a tricycle. Dressed as a clown with a bright orange wig and large yellow shoes he stood alongside Beltran. Each time Beltran began to answer a question Minaya honked his own nose, causing the media to laugh. Good times.

And who can forget the press conference in 2002 when Steve Phillips introduced Mo Vaughn to New York by saying, “Hey, Mo. Whaddaya, a wise guy?” and proceeded to hit the Mets first baseman on the head with a hammer and poke him in the eye. I may be mistaken but I think Phillips even threw in a couple of Nyuks Nyuks Nyuks for good measure.

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But these were nothing compared to when Frank Cashen presented new Mets manager Davey Johnson in 1984. Who could ever forget Cashen continually squirting Davey in the face with a stream of water shot from his bow-tie?

Wait? What? None of this happened? Oh, Minaya, Phillips and Cashen took their job seriously? They were more focused on bringing a winning team to Flushing than going for a cheap laugh? Wow, that’s certainly a far cry from our current GM.

The Winter Meetings kicked off this week and our Mets arrived with more holes than a package of Swiss Cheese. We’re in need of a couple outfielders, a catcher, protection for David Wright, at least one starter and a few arms in the bullpen in addition to resolving our situation at first base and shortstop. Certainly there is lots to accomplish. And upon arriving in Orlando with so much on his agenda our GM immediately sprang into action…with a joke.

“I was upstairs counting our money. Don’t get too excited. They were all fives.”

Par for the course…

Last year’s winter meetings when the Mets were in the market for a couple of outfielders….as opposed to this year’s meetings when–well, when we’re still in the market for a couple of outfielders–Alderson announced,

“There’s been a lot of talk about our outfield and I want you to know I’m in serious discussions with several I met on the Internet.”

LOL. That Sandy, what a jokester!!!

The GM and Winter Meetings is serious business, a time when teams try to focus on next year’s World Series. It’s nice knowing our GM is there to provide some levity. Other teams have general managers; we have comic relief.

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So what if we haven’t won it all since the Reagan administration? Who cares if we haven’t been to the World Series since people were getting over that Y2K paranoia? Sure, we haven’t been in the post-season in seven seasons and haven’t played a meaningful game after the All-Star break since 2009. These are fun days to be a Mets fan. Lots to laugh about.

“Getting ready for spring training. Driving to Florida, but haven’t left yet. Big fund raiser tonight for gas money.”

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy. Always with the funny tweets. What a guy!!!

There is plenty to laugh about. TV ratings are way down. Attendance has dropped five consecutive seasons for the first time in team history. In three years of the Alderson regime, the Mets have averaged 75 wins and finishing 25 Games Back…

A couple years ago Alderson laid down the gauntlet. Sure, Jose Reyes was the best lead-off hitter in team history and one of the most beloved and fun players we’ve ever had. So what if he’d been a Met for nine seasons and was a homegrown talent? Alderson wanted more proof. Jose went out and promptly became the first Met to ever win a batting title. Alderson responded by saying “Thanks for playing” and sent Reyes packing without making a real offer to retain him. However, he did make a joke: “Maybe I should have thrown in a box of chocolates.”

What a funny guy!

Besides that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?

Comedy is all about timing. Who amongst us hasn’t laughed at an Abe Lincoln joke? But back in 1865 no one made jokes. Later this month Americans will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of JFK. And even after the passage of half a century, some jokes still seem in bad taste. Twelve years ago, our nation lost her innocence on a Tuesday morning in September. The wounds are still too fresh and too new. But a hundred years from now people will make jokes about terrorists flying planes into buildings.

Comedy is timing, Mr. Alderson.

HODGES SNIDER STENGEL+

In the 1960’s the Mets were lovable losers. We laughed at the ineptitude our team displayed. And at the helm of our floundering ship was Casey Stengel. Back then, it was okay to laugh. We were bad and we knew it. And we expected it.

Now, fifty plus years later, the Mets are not lovable losers, they’re just losers.

We expect more in 2014 than we expected in 1964. Our hopes are higher in November 2013—or at least should be– than they were before The Beatles set foot in America. Casey was funny and we laughed at his Stengelese. I don’t find anything humorous in Sandy and his double-talk, double-speak and Aldersonese.

“Prepping for trip. Bought 4 new ties at a chop shop across from Citi. He threw in free wiper fluid. Better than the Wheeler deal…”

Lenny Bruce. George Carlin. Richard Pryor. Jerry Seinfeld. Sandy Alderson.

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Am I taking Alderson’s joking too serious? Should I lighten up? Perhaps. On the other hand, for our GM this is a job, a paycheck. For us fans, our team is important. Rooting for the Mets is not a job, it’s ingrained in our soul. It becomes part of our makeup, the very material the fabric of our life is stitched together with. For our GM, it’s a salaried position: for us it’s a lifetime commitment. Sandy Alderson’s been our GM for three seasons. I’ve been a fan for forty one. So, yes, I think I have a right to take offense to his ill-timed humor in the face of our crumbling team.

“Outfield. What outfield? We’re probably gonna have to move the fences in another 150 feet.”

I say that it’s time for Alderson to put some actions behind his joking words. Two things are clear: 1) His job as general manager interferes with his desire to make people laugh. 2) The Mets have no money. Therefore, I have a way to satisfy Alderson’s thirst to be a comedian AND save money. I say it’s time to eliminate Mr. Met. Since the Wilpon’s are so frugal—scratch that, cheap—and since Alderson seems more concerned with a funny quip than building a winner, it’s time to combine our GM and mascot. Money’s tight. Do we really need to pay some guy to walk around the stands in an oversized baseball head?

Philly has their phanatic. There’s a Pirate Parrot and Bernie Brewer. I think it’s time for our GM to dress up in a donkey uniform so the Mets can debut their new mascot: Alderson the Ass. This would save the Wilpon’s money while allowing Alderson to moonlight and satisfy his desire to make people chuckle.

“Will have to drive carefully on trip. Mets only reimburse for gas at a downhill rate. Will try to coast to Florida.”

I’m sure the power bill at Citi Field is high enough as it is. Do we really need to spend more by wasting electricity to have an apple rise from a hat? I propose that when a Mets player goes deep our GM can jump off the Shea Bridge into a container filled with $5 bills. The next time one of our players gets injured our depression would be eased if our GM came out in a full body cast and danced a little jig on the pitching mound. When our bullpen blows the lead and fans are filing out of Citi Field dejected, don’t you think the heartbreaking loss would be easer to accept if Sandy appeared in a top hat and tails and did a little tap dance on top of our dugout? I think it’s also time to end this whole singing thing. Fans have been bellowing ‘Take me out to the Ball Game’ long enough. It’s outdated. I say we set up a microphone at home plate and while fans stretch in the 7th inning, we can be regaled with some Alderson-ese and funny little quips. Tell me you wouldn’t love to hear the rest of:  So, Miller Huggins, Connie Mack and Terry Collins walk into a bar…

Author Robert Creamer once stated, “Baseball, at its very core, is fun.” And indeed it is. Who out there still doesn’t crack up when watching ‘Who’s On First?’ I’ve seen that ball bounce off Jose Canseco’s head a hundred times and it’s still funny as hell. From Bill Veeck to Max Patkin, from Al Hrabosky to Harry Caray, from Earl Weaver arguing with an umpire to Lou Pinella tossing second base, from Brian Wilson’s beard in LA to Jonny Gomes’ beard in Boston, baseball IS fun. And it should be.

But Alderson takes it too far. And his comments, remarks and failed attempts at humor are a direct slap in the face to all Mets fans.

Have you ever heard any business executive—not just of a baseball team, but in corporate America—bad-mouthing their own product? I sure haven’t. Alderson makes jokes about how bad his product is and how his employer has no money. His bosses, the Wilpon’s, sit back and allow him to get away with it while they too complain about having no money. Yet, they expect us fans to spend OUR money? Apparently, it’s okay for owners not to spend theirs but perfectly acceptable for us fans to spend ours.

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“There’s a sucker born every minute.” - P. T. Barnum

Most likely things will be the same in 2014, if not worse. We’ll still have the same issues, same problems, same disillusioned fan base, lack of offense, lack of power, overuse of the bullpen, and promises of a brighter future with gifted rookies. But thankfully we’ll get some funny jokes from our GM (general mascot)

For a while the Mets have been New York’s other team. Now, we’ve become a non-entity in the entire league. Perhaps, Alderson’s snazzy one liners DO belong in Flushing. Regrettably my team has become a laughing stock and Alderson is the headlining act. So, Sandy, I look forward to next season and more of your Alderson-ese, your cutesy little comments, your hilarious tweets, your sidesplitting one liners and your regurgitated sound bites. I just wonder how many are laughing with you and how many are laughing at you.

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About the Author ()

A Mets fan since 1973, Rob was born in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Luckily, his parents moved to Queens at a young age so he was not scarred by pinstripes. Currently living in Las Vegas, he writes crime fiction and mysteries.

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