This fast-dwindling off-season was supposed to be the door to the Promised Land for Mets fans in the Alderson Era.
This was the time, we were told, when all the bad old contracts would be off the books, when the Mets would be major players in the free agent market, when talent would matter more than budget, when winning would be back on the table.
That’s right, fans. It’s your fault the Mets – that’s New York Mets – act more like the Houston Astros than the serious franchise across town. Or as Shannon Shark put it over at Mets Police: “How did this become my problem?” Yet after a desultory off-season in which the only splash Alderson made may be the sudden arrival of all of Bartolo Colon‘s 300 pounds of 40-something pitcher into the training room whirlpool after trying to run the bases, the Mets general manager actually told an audience of season ticket holders that the team will begin to spend competitively when fans buy more tickets.
Which brings me to the latest campaign run by the franchise we all love, a social media effort to crown the first “Face of Major League Baseball.”
This is, by itself, a complete embarrassment to the league. If MLB has a face, it’s Bud Selig’s wizened mien, with that cold thousand-yard stare of cheap Milwaukee lager and epic mismanagement.
But seen through the prism of the Mets’ recent failures – ahem, no winning season since 2008 – it’s much, much worse.
Instead of loading up on scouting, working the phones, badgering his ownership for a bigger budget – or Bank of America, perhaps more appropriately – the once-heralded Mets management savior told reporters Thursday the team probably won’t sign anyone else (as an aside, the drama over the acquisition of a middlin’ player like Stephen Drew was epic, as in fail) and that – get this – he really wasn’t under financial restraints in stocking this year’s team.
And all the while Alderson is in full, fleece-vested homina homina mode (and I agree with some who give him credit for stamina in covering for ownership), the team’s PR staff is blasting out demands that true Mets fans stop what they’re doing and vote for David Wright as the “face” of baseball.
Who the flop cares about the “face” of baseball?! What Mets fan gives a single flat Rheingold about Wright’s mug, his popularity, or the highly dubious honor of some lame off-season glamour vote? Please shut up. Please, Mets social media people. Just. Shut. Up.
This is a team that can only “turn things around” by winning. They do not have the talent to win now. Colon, Curtis Granderson, and that guy from Oakland whose name we’ll all forget by next season are not difference makers. They’re somewhat pricey aging stopgaps. They’re not even Eddie Murray level stopgaps. Or Rickey Henderson stopgaps. Or Frank Viola stopgaps. This team has a thin but very talented vein of young and fragile pitching and that’s it.
Yeah, David Wright is a great Met. But no baseball fan cares about this “mlb face of the franchise” thing. No one cares about his annual dull spring prognostications about an improved team, and playing hard, and yadda yadda. No one wants to hear his thoughts on Derek Jeter. Mr. Wright has provided cover for this management team and its vaunted “plan for years now. He’s a wonderful talent, now aging slightly and not quite as productive. He hasn’t finished in the top ten in MVP voting since 2008, which was coincidentally the team’s last winning season. He’s not a top ten player; but nor should he be a target, by the way. He deserves respect for his accomplishments. But I don’t care if David Wright is the “face of Roosevelt Avenue” much less Major League Baseball. As for marketing, if David Wright endorses a product, I figure it’s about as reliable as Alderson’s plan.
Just win some games. Don’t tell people to vote in a vulgar, reductive contest for simpletons. Bring in talent, use it well, encourage young players. And win some games. We have 8,000 feet of snow on the ground in New York. The GM is telling several different stories from several different corners of several different mouths. The payroll is bottom quartile. The best player is out for the year. The manager is desperate to find playing time for a journeyman outfielder with speed and huge biceps. And the franchise is hitting Twitter pushing a pathetic excuse for marketing.
Maybe it’s the endless, bleak, desperate, never-end cold of New Siberia. Maybe it’s the loss of Ralph Kiner. But I’m not sure the Mets have been lower than this. Even during the Gardenhire years. Even with Richie Hebner.
So Tweet this: Win some games.