New York Mets Ownership Might Be Suffering from Inferiority Complex
If you have a few minutes while driving around on errands or commuting to and from work and you have your radio dialed into 660 WFAN, you are bound to hear Mets fans (ALREADY) complaining about their brand-spanking-new ballpark called Citi Field. Some fans have complained about the location of their seats, the food, the black outfield walls, the forest-green colored seats, the ticket prices, the right field overhang, and the team itself.
As one who is anxiously waiting his own opportunity to tour the Mets new home later this month, these are complaints that I would rather not listen to or take as legitimate until I see the park for myself.
However, there is one argument that fans have been making that I do agree with. What is up with the homage to the Brooklyn Dodgers and Jackie Robinson?
Make no mistake. I am NOT here to bash the accomplishments of one the most prolific players and great humanitarians to walk this very earth. What Robinson did for baseball by breaking the color barrier transcends sports.
He re-energized the Civil Rights movement, which spearheaded the move to true equality in this country. He was a great man whose imprint on history is as legendary as Lincoln's signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Boston Tea Party during the Revolutionary War, or the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
What has bothered Mets fans alike is the fact that the Mets organization is obsessed with Robinson, so much so that they are willing to forget their own history in order to honor a guy who never even played in a Mets uniform. Their homage to the days of baseball in Brooklyn makes you wonder if even the Dodgers themselves go this far to celebrate their Brooklyn roots.
Some will say, and correctly so, that Robinson's actions mean more than just a uniform name, but the true argument has nothing to do with Robinson, it has everything to do with the Mets front office.
If you look out at left field, you will see only three retired Mets numbers: Casey Stengel's 37, Gil Hodges's 14, and Tom Seaver's 41. That's it. These three are the only men that the Mets feel obligated to honor with a retired number.
Where is Keith Hernandez's 17? Where is Gary Carter's 8? Where is Mookie Wilson's 1? Where is Rusty Staub's 10? Where is Darryl Strawberry's 18? Where is Jerry Koosman's 36? Where is Mike Piazza's 31?
Those numbers cannot be found anywhere on the Mets so-called wall of fame.
The team claims that it had a team Hall of Fame, which was located somewhere in old Shea Stadium, and is now somewhere in Citi Field, but has anyone who doesn't work for the Mets ever seen the damn thing?
For whatever reason, Mets ownership acts ashamed of its own history. They never retire a number. They haven't held an old-timers day in well over a decade, and only on rare, special occasions do they invite a former player back to the ballpark, unless it's Keith Hernandez or Ron Darling, both of whom work for SNY, the Mets network.
The cross-town Yankees have no problem honoring their history. Granted, they do own 26 World Championships, but some would say that they have retired way too many numbers, even for players who are not deserving of that distinction.
Yankees ownership loves their fans, and they love their ball club enough to the point that they are willing to put on dramatic pregame festivities like the final appearance of old Yankees players at the old Yankee Stadium last September.
The Yankees held that ceremony before the game, and it made people forget that the team was not going to the playoffs in 2008. The Mets, well they decided it was a good idea to hold their ceremony for Shea Stadium after a game, where there was no guarantee that the team would win the game and qualify for a playoff spot at the same time.
The Mets' farewell to Shea was nice, but it lacked the raw emotion and honor that the Yankees had, with each player running out of the dugout to their respective positions. The Mets decided to randomly trot out old timers from each bullpen, and unless you had a good seat at Shea, you couldn't tell who was who until their image appeared on Diamond Vision.
Are the Wilpons too embarrassed to own the Mets? It's not like the Mets are the Tampa Bay Rays, before 2008. The Mets are a good franchise. Four National League Pennants, two World Championships. There are not that many teams who have fared any better than the Mets have in their history.
Yet, the Wilpons continue to act as if 1969, 1973, 1986, 1988, 1999, 2000, and 2006 never happened. Instead of a gigantic panorama in the rotunda of Jackie Robinson, the Mets should have pictures of the great moments in Mets history.
Think the word "Courage" would not look good next to the photo of Jesse Orosco celebrating after the final strikeout of the 1986 World Series? Think the word "Pride" would not look good next to an image of Robin Ventura's grand slam single against the Braves in 1999?
And instead of a giant 42 in the middle of the entrance way, why not just make a Yankees-like memorial park in there with some monuments of some great Mets players and coaches? It would make the experience that much more interesting for Mets fans, not old-time Dodgers fans.
The Wilpons just don't get it. They never have, never will. Just make sure, Mets fans, that you pay your $495 a ticket to them, and that is all that matters.
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