The 2015 Mets’ Baggage Burden…

mr. mey home opener

I ran across a picture the other day from earlier in the spring of Mr. and Mrs. Met helping to load up a big truck headed for Port Saint Lucie.  I couldn’t help notice how attractive Mrs. Met looked and wondered what kind of guy would let his wife load her own luggage? I think she can do better to be honest, I’m sure the exaggerated hand gestures get old around the dinner table. But watching them haul baggage got me thinking … the Mets sure seem to have a lot of it.

Reminds me of the scene from Spaceballs where Princess Vespa embarks on a trek across a desert planet with a full sized trunk and a ginormous hair dryer. No one wants to carry that.

The Mets have their standard issue suitcase to lug around that they’ve always had, and then they have all manner of recent baggage that they get all sorts of extra charges for. It’s understood that there are certain things they have to deal with just by nature of being the Mets … Always the 1962 comedy of losses, always the butt of some joke by Conan, always little brother to the Yankees – that stuff comes with the territory. In recent years, however, they’ve been saddled with a truckload of additional carry-on defeat. You have the called 3rd strike of 2006, the collapses of 2007 and 2008, and now you have this string of 6 losing seasons. That’s a lot of baggage folks.

It’s no wonder our unflappable General Manager is googling for ways to inspire a winning culture (I almost fell for that one – he’s a sly one that Sandy Alderson!). These Mets are so saddled with losing it’s hard to look up from the weight of it, even when there are reasons to look up. This is why it is so critical that the Mets be able to turn to their veterans and their manager for a way out of this endless bramble of futility.

Now lets make one thing clear, turning to Terry Collins for direction is like trying to find your way out of an Amazon rainforest by rolling around in bat guano and following ant trails, I mean, it could work but it’s not likely.

It shouldn’t be that hard to get rid of unwanted baggage.

Our Captain, Mr.  David Wright, with his newfound edginess may be aware in his own Captain America way that he needs to push some of the younger guys to move past their losing tendencies.

David Wright

This is the major leagues dammit! I really hope David’s in-your-faceness is sincere though, because up to now he hasn’t exactly exerted a force of personality capable of altering events on the field (the 86 Mets had twoKeith Hernandez and Gary Carter). I can imagine the actual Captain America scolding the actual Thor for having his boar’s leg and mead while the rest of the Avengers are stuck in some boring strategy meeting with Nick Fury … tesseract blah blah blah, Dark Elves, blah blah …

But isn’t that part of the problem? This notion that we have to rely on our superheroes to save us? When has that ever been the case in real life? Wait, I think maybe NEVER! The Dark Knight on his own is just a guy in a cape (and can only work every fifth game), Captain America is an anachronism from a time when he was younger and not the central cog in his team’s offense … and Duda will never turn into Hulk SMASH (against lefties) if he doesn’t learn how to get angry (maybe even a little mean) … but together, well, together they might not be able to save the Mets universe, but they just might be able to avenge it. And I think that’s the attitude this team has to take.

Now a smart manager might certainly be able to take some steps towards setting a defiant tone such as this, but lets be honest, trusting that Terry Collins will create a winning atmosphere is like believing that listening to the Go-Go’s really loud will cure the gastroenteritis you acquired in Mexicali.

Like most things worthwhile, shifts in culture (intestinal or otherwise) are usually the result of a collective effort, and therein lies the importance (and the challenge) of somehow coalescing these talented youngsters into a legitimate threat.

The Mets have nothing to lose, (well other than A LOT of money at the gate and tons in proceeds and concessions, and possibly going bankrupt and forcing a sale, and maybe the respect of their peers, and of course what’s left of their fanbase’s trust … ). The Mets could just take it upon themselves to dish out some of the hell they’ve had to endure these past few seasons to the rest of the National League. Who cares whether anyone thinks they have a shot or whether all the talking heads think the Nats will continue to own them … how much fun would it be to go out and quietly prove otherwise? There’s nothing like a good “us against the world” narrative. How great would it be to just leave Princess Vespa’s overstuffed trunk laying in the Florida sun?

This team is better off rallying around real assets such as the return of the Dark Knight, a healthy Captain, their marvelous gold glove center fielder, and their recent ROY recipient, rather than simply promoting this idea that they’re playoff bound. A winning culture is in a sense heuristic, a pleasant by-product of success, it can’t just be improvised. This corporate notion that you can concoct a collective mindset based on information gleaned from a positive thinking webinar … methinks tis is a bunch of bantha fodder. Perhaps something Jeff Wilpon came up with on his exercise bike.

You can’t grow what’s not there … The Mets’ culture, whether it be a winning one or one of perpetually dropping piles of excrement, will grow or wither on events in the field. No amount of slogan-slinging will make these guys run faster or lay off breaking pitches in the dirt. Culture is funny that way, unlike superhero stories, culture is usually an outgrowth of historical events … even myths have some root in earthly phenomena.

A culture tends to involve how people bound by some common background reaffirm their own worth and purpose through art and literature and customs, but that value is rarely contingent on pure fiction because that would defeat it’s own self-affirming credibility — like a an anchorman bragging about military exploits he was never a part of, or believing that Terry Collins is the right man to manage the 2015 Mets because of his nimble and adaptive intellect … It helps if your beliefs aren’t completely rooted in deep-space fantasy.

In the end, there’s only one way to really change this team’s culture.

Win.

Oh, and maybe a different manager.

mmo feature original footer

About Matt Balasis 151 Articles
A Met fan since August 1969 when the Red Cross placed my family on the 6th floor of a building in Willets Point because of a fire. I could see Shea from our balcony. I missed the fall of 86 because I was in Boot Camp and I've been serving penance ever since in Minnesota. I write about the Mets to share with a tradition that made much of my childhood worthwhile. Follow me on twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewBalasis