Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Am I Rooting For?

That's a question that I've been asked several times in the last few days. With the Yankees and the Phillies kicking off the World Series on Wednesday night, friends and family have been keen to find out how I will manage my emotions for the next week to 10 days.

Do I root for the Yankees, by virtue of the fact that they represent New York and that they will be trying to derail a bitter rival's quest for back-to-back championships? Do I root for the Phillies, who by winning the Series would shut the mouths of the legions of "diehard" Yankee fans that have suddenly re-appeared this year?

My answer so far has been that I will simply be rooting for a meteor to strike Yankee Stadium right before the first pitch of Game 1 is thrown. My real answer is a lot more complex.

In a perverse way, I am actually glad that the Yankees and Phillies are their respective league champions. It's a nightmare scenario for Mets fans, of course, but it is also a nightmare scenario for ownership and management. The Wilpons seem to react only to shame and embarrassment, and watching the Mets' crosstown rivals do battle with the three-time NL East champions allows those feelings to cut even more deeply.

Fred Wilpon is still more interested in enjoying his debilitating Jackie Robinson/Brooklyn Dodgers fetish than he is with satisfying his own franchise's fanbase. Jeff Wilpon is still too obsessed trying to convince himself that he isn't the product of blatant and outright nepotism to hire the best management people available and to let them work free from his interference.

The result? The fanbase is disgusted and demoralized, baseball operations are a mess from top to bottom and the Mets are a 70-win team that inexplicably thinks that it's just a few bad breaks away from being a 95-win team. Meanwhile, the Yankees and the Phillies - two organizations that are run better than the Mets in every single facet imaginable - are squaring off for a championship.

The Wilpons deserve this, even if Mets fans do not.

So I am rooting for a thrilling seven-game series, one that captivates the imagination of the nation and vaults both the Yankees and the Phillies into the national spotlight, cementing their status as the two iconic teams of their respective leagues. I don't even care who wins. I just want it to be crystal clear to every baseball fan, even two people as remarkably dense as Fred and Jeff Wilpon, just how irrelevant the Mets have become in comparison.

From there, I am rooting for change.

I am rooting for the 2009 World Series to mark the turning point in the historical timeline of the New York Mets. If the Mets first took the field as a member of the National League in 1962, let that season become known as 47 B.A. (before The Awakening). Let the year 2010 become 1 A.A. - the year in which this franchise began the rebuilding process in earnest and laid the foundation for becoming the most intelligently-run sports franchise in American sports history.

It can be done. The Mets have a beautiful new stadium that, with several important design tweaks, can become a monstrous revenue generator that the fanbase can actually be proud of. The Mets have a television station that can showcase their product on a daily basis and inspire a new generation of fans to declare their loyalty to the Orange and Blue.

The Mets have financial resources unmatched by anyone except the Yankees - and the potential revenues of both franchises are a lot closer than either the Wilpons or the Mets fans would like to admit. If it is true that the Mets have in fact made a small profit from the Madoff schemes, then money truly is no longer an object.

From that foundation, the structure can be built. Ownership can ask a simple question - "who are the New York Mets?" - and relentlessly go about the task of answering that question in a way that will make this franchise perennial championship contenders.

Older baseball fans remember "The Dodger Way" and "The Oriole Way." It was the blueprint of an organization that dictated how a professional ballplayer should look and act from the moment he signed a minor-league contract to the day he left the organization. It is time to create "The Met Way" - and for that to mean something other than being an injury-prone and overpaid underachiever who is as trained in the science of baseball fundamentals as he is in the science of quantum physics.

Mets fans, turn on your televisions on Wednesday night. Enjoy a terrific matchup between two great teams and two great starting pitchers (CC Sabathia and Cliff Lee). Do it again for Game 2 and Game 3 and for every game thereafter. Enjoy the game of baseball played at its highest level.

And then, when it is over, regardless of who wins and who loses, turn your eyes to Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Ask them, in whatever fashion you can, these very simple questions.

When are you going to stop tearing at the very fabric of this organization and trying to stitch it back together with temporary and insufficient patches? When are you going to put your gigantic egos aside and contribute more of the only thing that a baseball owner should ever contribute to the operation of a franchise - money? When are you going to realize that you are an active and ongoing detriment to the good fortune of this organization and that you are driving away an entire generation of Mets fans in the process?

When are you going to turn the New York Mets into winners - just like the Yankees and the Phillies are?


TW said...

Much like Chipper Jones, as a Met fan I do not hate the Phillies . I am jealous of them. Ruben Amaro has built a team that will likely win the world series for the second year in a row. They play like a team I want to root for, but alas, I am condtioned not to.

I will root for the Phillies to use the Yankees ballpark effectively against them.

Happy Jack said...

KEEN ?!? I don't think so. Good Article anyway.
- Your friend and family.

Happy Jack said...

KEEN ?!? I don't think so. Good Article anyway.
- Your friend and family.