Before the day long event that is the oil change of my car, I stopped by the “real meat” fast food joint Taco Bell. I ordered my usual (2 gordita crunches, cinnamon twists and a small drink…free refills) and paid with my card with my Mets logo on it. The cashier looked at the card and then back at me(I was wearing a blue Mr. Met tee shirt and blue Mets cap) and said “really”. Of course this reaction usually implies one of three possible outcomes, the cashier is either a Phillie, Brave or Yankee. After I respond with my antagonistic response “yea…that just happened”, the cashier devoulged he was behind door three…a Yankee fan.
The conversation at this point followed the usual protocol for a Yankee vs Met conversation:
Yankee: Mets suck
Me: Yankees suck
Yankee: We have 28 world championships
Me: You werent alive for at least 20 of them so who cares
Yankee: We make the playoffs like every year
Me: You mean you buy a playoff ticket every year
Yankee: .:: loud laugh ::.
At that point I moved over and let the guy do his job with the patrons behind me. After I got my meal and started tearing into it, he just “happened” to clean the table next to me and decided to reignite our little debate. After our bouts of verbal assassinations, he admitted that the Yankees payroll may have had something to do with their championships. He was none too happy when I gave my opinion that the Yankees big money era seems to be on ice and they were trying to go with a “home grown feel” now that the pillars of the recent Yankee golden era are on the verge of retirement. He said to me “everyone knows who the Yankees are, they never made any bones about it and old George would not have signed off on this”.
Change is never easy and rarely smooth. It comes with its share of turbulence and tribulations but the idea is to come out ahead in the end. One last point the gentleman from Taco Bell pointed out during the “payroll” phase of the argument was one name to disqualify my point…Carlos Beltran. His point was the Yankees were better than the Mets because during their spending frenzy which he likens to the Yankees day to day they were only able to make it to the playoffs once. After pointing out that the Yankees had a roster of 10 people earning Beltran’s paycheck and probably some scrub bench player making 10 mill, I began to wonder about that era and the new one to come.
There is no doubt that Sandy and company have changed the culture of the New York Mets. Everything from a pretty much drama free media season to a team that was picked to finish last in the division by EVERY single analyst holding strong at 3rd place. This is a Mets squad that has faced a 2009 like injury plague and has still not called it quits or seemingly given up. While that might be cause for some optimism about the future of the Mets, this also made me wonder about those who would look at a guy like Prince Fielder in baby blue and orange. Many would argue that Prince would put the Mets a cut above most in the east and make the Phillies look over their shoulder. The problem of course is that Sandy has already squashed any indication of a higher payroll of 120 million…so much so that people are questioning the Mets resources to sign Jose Reyes even after the Mets held on to him during the trade deadline.
I totally agree with Sandy’s approach to the Mets. It will hurt to miss out on a talent like a Prince Fielder but in the long run many teams have made more with less. The Mets have had a bloated payroll for years now and have only managed to get one division title for their efforts. This change in philosophy will be difficult and will most likely ween the superficial Met fans for years to come as this will not be an over night fix. The Mets have some serious holes opening up and it will take some time to fill them. There is no doubt the Mets have talent in their system, what im looking at is what the league will look like once it matures? Will the Phillies be able to keep pace a few years from now when their core is older and no prospects in the wings? Will the Braves survive without a clear cut clutch player like Chipper has been for so many years? Will the Marlins be able to hold on to their talent with a new stadium and a seemingly lack of baseball interest in Florida? Will the Nationals stop sucking? The Mets are cleansing themselves of bad contracts and piss poor management and while the initial pain of “rebuilding” seasons will hurt, the opportunistic moment that the Mets can capitalize on a weak division is something that might be worth waiting for. Question of course is, will Met fans give Sandy the time to make something great? Year two of the Omar Minaya regime saw the Mets win their division and were a virtual lock for the world series. I sincerely doubt year two of the Sandy era will see the same success and it will be interesting how the Met fans will deal with that.