This Is What I Get

(Note: This is a very long article. It’s a lot of emotions compiled into something and not all of it makes perfect sense. So it’s fair game if you’d like to navigate away now.)

So I’m a relatively young guy and I haven’t been around for many baseball seasons, and I’ve expressed that I haven’t seen either of the Mets WS runs. Although i’ll be the first to admit that the Mets are a daily part of my life, no matter what kind of season they’re having. It has been a really rough season to stomach for everybody, and fans have been left feeling emotions and screaming words that I won’t detail in this family friendly post. Unfortunately, this season seems to hurt more because the Mets were supposed to have everything together this time around.

I first started watching baseball in 1999, when I was 6 years old and I have kept tabs on the Mets and Rockies ever since then. I didn’t really get into baseball till I was about 10, so that’s about 2003. So I’ve seen a few bad seasons, and I also grew up idolizing a true baseball icon in Mike Piazza.

And then 2006 happened. A “magical” year. (Ironically, Piazza managed to slug his 400th HR in 2006.) I began to dedicate more of my life to baseball. And right around then, I came across MetsMerizedOnline. The Mets finished 2006 with a .599 Winning Percentage, their highest since 1988 when they won 100 games. And many people say that was our year to win. Everyone knows what happened that year.

Then came the two collapses. The first year, we apparently lacked starting pitching. Enter Johan Santana. The second year, we lacked a bullpen. Enter Francisco Rodriguez, Sean Green, J.J Putz. I wasn’t convinced that the bullpen was fixed and evidently that was the least of the Mets worries this season. However, the stars were supposed to be aligned for us this season. We supposedly had a working offense, and with an adequate starting pitching staff and bullpen, there was a renewed sense of confidence.

So with all this hype, something had to happen this year, didn’t it? This is the year I’ve was waiting for, nothing could go wrong, and all that optimistic banter about the Mets. About a quarter of a way through this season, I found myself back on the blogging scene as a contributing writer here on MetsMerizedOnline. I always loved it here because of the diversity of opinions and the passion and thought put into all the articles, and then I found myself writing for it. Everything was going great. Even up to the trade deadline, the Mets were still in it. But hope was fading. Management failed to make any moves. And the downfall began.

Basically, we’re here right now… almost every one of our starters is injured, and the ones that aren’t have nothing left to play for. And the Mets have lost games in every conceivable way possible. (Bob Lemon – “I don’t care how long you’ve been around, you’ll never see it all.”) Losing Santana basically signaled the end for the season in my eyes. But I think the Mets needed a season like this. Alot of people didn’t realize how dry our minor league system really was. It also opened up the eyes of the fan base to how badly the Wilpons were robbed in the Madoff scandal. The team seems to be broke. I’m a glass half full guy, but it’s hard to see the glass half full when the Mets can’t afford to buy one.

There were a few positives here. Brian Stokes is a reliable reliever. We picked up Jeff Francoeur. People realized Daniel Murphy isn’t super rookie anymore but he’s definitely found the antidote to the injury bug. We now know how our home ballpark will play out. We’re going to get a high draft pick. And obviously, no collapse.

But my problem, and I haven’t exactly stated it yet, is that I don’t know if the problems will end here. Minaya and the Wilpons did a great job of building teams that were meant to win in one year. And in the process, they forgot about something major. There’s always another year to play for. I do give them some leeway, because no one could have expected this many injuries. And it’s not actually one person’s fault for all our problems.

However, this team cannot be a dynasty. We have a very, very limited minor league system. And I’m not trying to discredit some guys. I thought Jon Niese was doing great. Mike Pelfrey’s doing fine, and Reyes and Wright would be in place. But we need many things next year. Starters, at least another arm in the pen including a set up man, a left fielder, a first baseman, a place to put Daniel Murphy and his worse fielding twin Chris Carter, and a rejuvenated minor league system. And with the Wilpons apparently broke…plain and simple, we’re screwed, folks.

And I am left here thinking to myself. This is what I get? Myself and so many thousands of fans. This is what we get for dedication, for time, for passion? I’m sorry, but a minor league system with “stars” that might not be up for the next 5 years and veterans signed as stopgaps don’t cut it. My 2009 August and September are filling with a captivating return to school and the continuation of watching the AAA-Mets. Baseball didn’t become what it was because of men in suits, yet it seems as if they make all the decisions now.

The problem is I can’t help but come back to this team. I’m still going to dedicate a bit of my daily life to check up on these Mets, because baseball is such a beautiful thing. But this isn’t the game that people grew up telling stories about. This isn’t the pastime that I’ve heard so much about.

Hall Of Famer Bob Lemon once said that “Baseball was a kids game, and grown-ups just screw it up.” I am and always will be a believer. But man, I hope by the time that Opening Day 2010 comes along, I still have something to believe in.