10 Things the Media Doesn't Get About the New York Mets
The media is rough on the New York Mets.
Not just the New York media, but the media in general. Whether it be the SportsCenter anchor throwing in his "Oh, that's just the Mets for ya" jab, or a full-blown article about how embarrassing the organization is, the Mets don't always get the respect they deserve.
As Mets fans, we can't blame the media. It's not their fault that they don't know the full story behind the Amazins, maybe the fanbase hasn't done well enough to educate the pundits and analysts.
This may be in vain, but we're going to give it a shot in this article. You might not like what follows unless you bleed orange and blue, but you have been forewarned. I'll be throwing objectivity to the wind throughout the next 10 slides, but after years of being a Mets fan, I believe I have earned it.
Here are 10 things that the media doesn't know about the New York Mets.
These Aren't Your Dad's New York Mets
The bad reputation needs to end here.
This 2012 New York Mets team is a far cry from the terrible teams that your dad saw growing up. There aren't any 100-loss seasons on the horizon, and I'll go out on a limb to say there aren't any 90-loss seasons in the near future either.
From the 40-120 start in 1962 to the September collapse in 2007, the Mets have been dealing with the notion that the franchise will never win anything meaningful.
Terry Collins' club is obliterating that notion Office Space style. They are winning games they shouldn't win. They are winning games they should win! They are beating teams they wouldn't have beaten last year and in years past, and they are doing it in the most exciting ways.
But still, the Mets are defamed by sportscasters and writers all over the country.
That's about to change, though.
Long gone are the days of the bumbling "Muts," the bone-headed contracts and the pessimistic outlook on every single game. A new era of Mets baseball has arrived. The sinking ship has been plugged up, drained and is now sailing under clear skies.
The Homegrown Lineup
The Tampa Bay Rays got some love when they made that improbable run back in 2008. Sure, they made it to the World Series, but their homegrown lineup was drooled over long before they earned the right to play October baseball.
The Washington Nationals get so much praise for their young roster, but they haven't even done anything yet. They are just three games ahead of the Mets, and people are spouting blasphemy about a dynasty. The artists formerly known as the Montreal Expos are comprised of some pretty quality guys, but there's no reason to crown them yet.
So where is the love for the homegrown Mets lineup?
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, Ruben Tejada, Jonathan Niese, Dillon Gee, David Wright, Josh Thole and Bobby Parnell, to name a few, are all homegrown guys who are regularly contributing to the success of this ballclub (minus Tejada as of late).
The average age of their lineup is 27.9 years old. If you remove Andres Torres, Scott Hairston and Omar Quintanilla, the number is considerably lower than that.
Captain Kirk is a star in the making. Lucas Duda is finally starting to provide some of that power we hoped he would. Ike Davis is slowly making his way to the exit ramp of the interstate—to quote Howie Rose. Ruben Tejada made us all forget about Jose Reyes for a game or two before he went down. Niese has shown flashes of brilliance, as has Gee. Thole has established himself as a decent contact hitter, and Parnell is moseying his way along to effectiveness.
What more can you say about Wright? He's the last piece of that 2006 team that still remains in Flushing. There had to be times when he was asking himself what he was still doing in New York, but he stuck with the team and he's endeared himself to the fans because of it. He's the de facto captain of this club and will go down as the greatest Met to take the field before all is said and done.
On to the next one before I get too worked up.
It's Time to Stop Discounting the Mets Before the Season Starts
Okay, I'll admit it: this clip was funny the first, I don't know, 20 times I saw it.
It's not remotely amusing anymore. There's nothing that turns me into an abject psychopath quite like the public announcer in that Family Guy scene.
If people didn't actually do that in real life before the season started, it wouldn't bother me. Unfortunately, they do, but it's time for that to end.
Countless others made the mistake of doing the same thing.
Terry Collins has ushered in a new era of baseball at Citi Field. He's going to win with what he has and he's going to do it for a long time. Don't be surprised if he gets a long-term deal some time down the road, and if he does, we'll be on our way to greener pastures.
Can we stop saying how bad a team is going to be before they play one game? As fun as it is to predict and mess around with standings before a single game is played, the Mets are showing the baseball world that doing so is not a good idea.
Departures/Injuries Haven't Kept the Mets from Competing
When Carlos Beltran was traded to the San Francisco Giants on July 28, 2011, present times were looking bleak for the New York Mets. He was one of the best center fielders to ever put on the uniform, and was known as a consummate professional during his time in Queens.
When "He Who Shall Not Be Named" signed with the Miami Marlins on December 7, things went from bleak to downright deplorable. Fans were screaming, crying, begging "You Know Who" not to leave, but he would have none of that.
Jason Bay should have picked up the slack, but the worst Mets signing of the last decade never helped out. I can't say that wasn't expected, as we never had the old Bay, but was 15 homers and 70 RBI too much to ask from a guy whose career averages shatter those totals?
Ruben Tejada went down with a quadriceps injury and the Mets are no neck deep into their depth chart at shortstop. Justin Turner did a great job of picking up the slack before he went down. Then it was on to Jordany Valdespin and Omar Quintanilla, who have been serviceable backups.
Johan Santana's injury was supposed to show symptoms this season. He was supposed to be exhibiting signs of regression by this time, but no. The Mets are still winning games.
It seems like nothing the baseball gods can do will send the Mets into a tailspin.
Swept by the New York Yankees? They come back and sweep the Tampa Bay Rays.
The resiliency is something to watch, and it will be there all season. Heart doesn't go away.
There Aren't Many Guys Hitting
The 38-32 record the New York Mets have posted is quite remarkable seeing as they don't have many guys on the roster who have put together a decent season at the dish.
Let's go through last night's lineup.
Andres Torres tearing the cover off the ball at a whopping .212 clip. (Seriously? We traded Angel Pagan for Angel Pagan but three years older?)
Jordany Valdespin checks in at a paltry .224. He gets somewhat of a pass because he's young and still getting acclimated. The usual starter, Daniel Murphy, is in a tailspin of all tailspins, and has seen his average fall to .270.
David Wright is off to his best start in years, but he's one of the few bright spots in the lineup.
Scott Hairston mashes against lefties, but I'm dumbfounded as to how someone who can hit a lick off of righties got into the major leagues.
Vinny Rottino? I don't think I have to say much about the perennial minor leaguer and his .188 average.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is hitting, and consistently building up his own following in New York.
Never in my life have I seen a first baseman start the season as poorly as Ike Davis has. He looked completely lost at the plate, couldn't hit a fastball and couldn't even sniff a curve. However, he's slowly but surely crawling his way back into the .200s, but who knows how long it will be before he gets to that point. (Come on, Ike, only .10 more points to go!)
Justin Turner and Omar Quintanilla are hitting .258 and .254 respectively. You can't blame them though, they're nothing more than utility guys who are filling in until Ruben Tejada comes back.
Nickeas is hitting .160 and has somehow managed to remain in the big leagues. Josh Thole makes up for his incompetence at the dish, and got a day off against a lefty today.
More than half of the guys I just ran through aren't hitting at the level that they should be hitting at. There's a couple of guys that come up to the plate and you just know they're not going to get much done up there.
But despite all that, the Mets are still winning. The bats will be rejuvenated eventually, and there will be plenty more games to win once that happens.
Fred Wilpon Does Not Reflect the Entire Organization
Okay, so maybe Fred Wilpon does reflect poorly on the entire organization. He shouldn't though.
He's looked at as this cunning, greasy, fickle owner, and rightfully so. He is all three of those things. The mere sight of him irks me and I wouldn't be upset if I never laid eyes upon him again.
Just because you have a bad owner doesn't mean the whole organization is bad.
People hate Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, but they don't hate the Clippers organization as a whole.
I could deal with Wilpon up until he made those comments about "He Who Shall Not Be Named." What kind of owner in their right mind says something like that about their star player?
If you're reading this and you aren't a Met fan, don't hate the Mets because of Fred Wilpon. Now on to Wilpon's biggest blunder.
The Financial Situation Isn't so Bad
You know who that is in the above picture right? If you guessed Bernie Madoff, you're a winner. He's the man who almost single-handedly ran the New York Mets franchise into the ground with his Ponzi scheme that almost drove the Wilpons to bankruptcy.
Despite his heinous deeds, the Mets' financial situation is not as bad as everybody thinks.
Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article pertaining to the Wilpon settlement:
How much of that $162 million the men will ultimately have to pay depends, oddly, on how successful Mr. Picard is in his efforts to recover money for Madoff victims. The Mets’ owners had applied to Mr. Picard to be reimbursed $178 million from their net loser accounts. If Mr. Picard’s recoveries do not yield $162 million after three years, Mr. Wilpon and Mr. Katz have guaranteed to pay as much as $29 million.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that's saying the Wilpons could claim $178 million as victims to Madoff's Ponzi scheme. If they are returned the full $178 million, they'll have to pay $162 million.
Again, correct me if I'm wrong, but those figures in the excerpt make it seem like the Wilpons are in much better financial shape than the media makes them out to be.
On another note: they just gave Jonathan Niese an extension to support the notion that they have some money to spend.
This Is a Lovable Team
The New York Mets' roster certainly isn't filled with the most talented guys in Major League Baseball, but the collection of players is one of the most lovable Mets teams we have had the pleasure to watch in recent memory.
David Wright is one of the hardest working, devoted players in the league. He always has a smile on his face when he's talking to the media (after a win, of course), and has not one had an off the field issue.
Daniel Murphy may be a bonehead at times, but that's what makes him so fun to watch. He plays his tail off night in and night out and cares as much as anybody on the entire team. He messes up on the basepath and in the field sometimes, but he's earned the right to commit a few blunders.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis is one of the most exciting rookies that we've seen come through the Mets' farm system. He plays a great center field and contributes a lot to the team as a whole.
Johan Santana's career was nearly cut short by shoulder surgery, but he has bounced back to become one of the most effective six-inning pitchers in the game.
Then we have Robert Allen Dickey, the most lovable player on the entire team. Dickey looks like he should be shooting bears or climbing trees in the backwoods of Tennessee, but instead, he's the best pitcher in baseball right now. He complains about nothing and goes out every fifth day and shuts down the opposition with ease.
Read those five names over. You love all of them.
Johan Santana's No-Hitter Meant the World to the Franchise and Fans
Aside from the two World Series titles in 1969 and 1986—which I do not personally recall—Johan Santana's no-hitter was the single most important moment in the history of the New York Mets' franchise.
If you are a Mets fan, and you watched the entire thing from beginning to end, you can sympathize with me when I tell you that I nearly shed a tear when Santana struck out David Freese to end a 50-year drought.
I don't know if you can say drought if something has never happened before, but I'm using it in this case. I also don't know if the media knows how much the no-hitter meant to the fans, but they can't possibly understand the amount of joy attained from that moment.
The Mets franchise has such a storied tradition of great pitchers, and to finally get that first no-hitter felt like the organization got over a metaphorical hump that it was never able to overcome in the past.
It feels like some kind of curse has been lifted from the franchise and better things are still to come. It makes the entire Mets community believe that something special can—and will—happen this season.
It's Better Being a Mets Fan Than a Yankees Fan
This is hard to understand unless you are a New York Mets fan, but you know what I mean if you are.
Think about the life of a New York Yankees fan quick. You head into every April with this insane idea in your head that your team is absolutely, definitively and unequivocally going to win the World Series that year.
When it doesn't happen, you get upset for a few days and then convince yourself that they'll win the World Series next season. Yankees fans complain about not winning a title since 2009. Are you serious? How spoiled are you that you start calling for Joe Girardi's head the year after he wins the World Series.
Now think about the life of a Mets fan. We go into every season cautiously optimistic, some years more optimistic than others. We have some semblance of possible success in the back of our minds, and when it happens, the next month of our life is better because of it.
What makes you a fan when you know your team is going to compete for a title every year? No fan of the New York Yankees under the age of 30 has gone through the trials and tribulations of a down season more than a handful of times.
You start to realize how much you truly love a team when you know that the upcoming season is going to test your patience but it's not going to test your allegiance.
It's impossible to know your true feelings for a baseball team until they have pushed you to the brink of giving up...but not quite all the way.