Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers and their fans on their remarkable reversal of fortune; they have been pulled from the quagmire of baseball irrelevance by a very notable hero. Magic Johnson and a group of investors have announced that they will become the new owners of the storied baseball franchise after paying a record $2 billion.
Johnson is joined by longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, movie executive Peter Guber and Mark Walter, chief executive officer of a Chicago financial services company.
The deal must be approved next month, but by all indications, with the start of the baseball season in a couple of days, things in Dodgerland just took a turn for the better.
While the baseball fan and traditionalist in me is thrilled at the news, the Mets fan inside is roiling with excruciating pangs of anger, frustration and jealousy. Actually, I’m beside myself.
With all due deference to the Wilpons, Mets fans everywhere will look at this latest news and utter the words that reflect that same collective frustration and disappointment that have been festering in our bellies for years.
Why couldn’t it be us?
Although a baseball team’s success is obviously predicated on the individuals who are on the field day in and day out (not too many owners can hit a 95 mph fastball), any baseball fan who has even an inkling of common sense and/or business acumen realizes that the ability to equip an organization with the proper material to succeed lies with an owner who has both the financial means and baseball savvy to make aspirations become reality.
The New York Mets' ownership has neither.
The Mets are stagnating under the leadership of the Wilpons; what’s worse, there does not appear to be any relief in sight. Most Mets fans began calling for action after the infamous collapse in 2008.
That was a horror of epic proportions. At the time, Mets fans believed that the organization had had hit rock bottom. And while coming face to face with the nadir of an unfortunate circumstance is never pleasant, it does suggest a hint of promise; you have experienced the worst and, despite the pain and anguish, there’s only one way to go, right?
Silly Mets fans.
Alas, 2008 was not the end of Mets misery but merely a harbinger of future misfortune. Since that debacle in September of that year, things have moved precipitously in the wrong direction.
Failing to get rid of Willie Randolph at the end of 2007 was bad enough, but not jettisoning Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya and the decision to leave the core of the team intact after that 2008 disaster are things that still perplex and anger Mets fans. Success waits for no one.
The plans for the new stadium should have sparked a complete renaissance—new stadium, new manager and new players—but instead, with the exception of a couple of temporary fixes (K-Rod and J.J. Putz), everything remained the same.
Trading Scott Kazmir and signing Jason Bay are two other notable indiscretions.
The beat goes on.
The Mets have lost millions to Bernie Madoff and Jose Reyes to the rival Marlins.
They have also lost countless opportunities to sign free agents due to financial ownership’s reticence and the negative stigma now attached to a team mired in incomprehensible ignominy despite playing in the media capital of the world.
I have no doubt they have lost many young fans as well.
Sure, the new stadium is aesthetically impressive and a nice venue in which to watch a game, despite the glaring absence of Mets history in favor of the Jackie Robinson/Brooklyn Dodgers motif.
Can we have even a little blue and orange? The Shake Shack burgers are delicious, the “Apple” and Mr. Met still make me smile, and there are plenty of fan-friendly activities and other diversions. But is this as good as it’s going to get?
As we embark on yet another season that will undeniably see the Mets rendered irrelevant by Memorial Day, all of the Mets faithful realize the same daunting reality: it’s time for new ownership.
Yes, the time has come.
So here’s what I’m thinking…
There are many possibilities out there, but I believe I have the answer. I happen to know of a guy who plays shortstop in New York, for another team.
It is my understanding that this certain someone’s career is winding down and that this charismatic, resourceful, iconic individual has also expressed interest in owning a team. He may even know a little bit about winning in New York.
Talk about “magic.”