The Mets are playing better than everyone, even many of their most fervent supporters, expected them to play across the season’s first 26 games. They are pitching well, they are winning in exciting ways. They have kids helping out and more on the way. If you are a Mets fan, they have thus far been easy to root for.
So now, to celebrate this feel-good start to the season, this is what the men who operate the Mets ask of you:
A loyalty oath.
And it is simply one more example that the people who root for the Mets are so much better, so much more deserving of better, than the people who run the Mets. Over the last two days, the Mets have blasted letters to hundreds of thousands of people, over the signatures of some of the team’s greatest stars. The greeting — “To True New Yorkers” — begins the absurdity.
And it just gets worse from there. Here is the money quote:
“As players, we can tell you that what happens in the clubhouse and what happens in the stands — players and fans together, believing in each other — makes a tremendous difference with what happens on the field.”
Modal TriggerTranslation: We’re winning and the stadium is empty. What’s wrong with you?
As always, the Mets interpret this as a fan problem when this is a METS problem. The Mets drew over 4 million fans in 2008. You know why? Because they were a game away from the World Series in 2006; because for all but the final 17 games of 2007, they were among the best teams in baseball; because in 2008, the clock was ticking on Shea Stadium and they were still among the best teams in the sport.
Attendance has dwindled every year since 2009, when a smaller ballpark maxed out season seating at around 3.4 million. You know why? Because the Mets are one of two teams — the barely Quad-A Astros being the other — who have had losing seasons in every one of those years.
And you know something else?
The Mets still drew over 2.1 million people to Citi Field in 2013, to watch a team that didn’t spend a day in first place after April 4, didn’t spend a day over .500 after April 24, was never closer than 10 games out in the NL East after June 1.
As one 15-year season-ticket holder emailed me: “Tone deaf, tone blind, tone dumb. Emphasis on dumb.”
The Mets have never understood the difference between anger and apathy. As long as you have anger, you have viability, and fans who may despise how you do business still, against all reason, hope they’re proven wrong. And spend their money on empty hopes and emptier promises.
Anger is good. Anger equals passion.
Apathy equals death.
And this letter is a good way to hasten the growing ennui. Questioning the fealty of fans, challenging them to prove their worth not only as Mets fans but True New Yorkers? Why? Because of one winning homestand? Because a Facebook poll suggested there isn’t, as Tessio from “The Godfather” said, one place in New York where they can hang their hat right now?
The Mets are so remarkably dense on such things. There is a simple cure-all, and they should know it better than anyone: Win, and the people come. Win, and the people spend. Win, and there is no need to gather signatures so they can be presented to the players before a Subway Series game as proof that people still care.
Goodness, read that sentence again: Who would ever think this is a good idea? What’s next, a pep rally? A sock hop? A bonfire in the quad? You’d call this minor league, but then that would be an insult to the New Jersey Jackals.
And here’s the best part: Whoever wrote this letter hasn’t a clue about the Mets’ own history. This is how the 1969 and ’86 teams’ successes are described: “a gritty, even stubborn belief in this club against the odds.”
Really. 1969? Fine. That qualifies. But ’86? Would you like to know how many teams, in the history of baseball, won more than the 116 games, postseason included, those Mets won? Time’s up: three — the 1906 Cubs, ’98 Yankees and 2001 Mariners. That’s all. That’s it. Those Mets had a vapor-lock grip on the city. Why?
If you’re a Mets fan, you know why. If you’re one of the ham-fisted men who run the Mets? It probably baffles you. Because of course it does.