Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mets have no sense of tradition!

I just saw a note that the Mets will be giving away a Citi Field Home Run Apple savings bank to the first 25,000 fans on Opening Day.  I was surprised to see this, because a magnetic schedule has been the Opening Day giveaway for as long as I can remember.  Turns out they will be giving away the calendar this year on Friday April 9th.  Another bit of evidence noting the Mets' lack of a sense of tradition! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm Shockingly Excited For Opening Day!

2009 was the worst season in my personal history of being a Mets fan.  There, I said it.

After three seasons of blogging, by the time late August hit, I just didn't have the heart to post on a regular basis any more.  I had absolutely no motivation to write about the Mets, not even to vent.  That's how disengaged I felt. 

I could not have been less engaged, less enthused, or more disappointed in the Mets than I was in 2009.  I went to fewer Mets games than I had in probably 20 years, which is saying a lot considering that for three of those seasons I lived in North Carolina!

It wasn't the injuries.  The multitude of them was almost comical.

It wasn't the losses.  I've seen seasons with far fewer wins and felt exponentially more joy in following the team.

The lack of enjoyment I had about the Mets was because of the manager, the players who played for him, the arena they played in, and the management that oversaw it all.

Yes, there were injuries that decimated the roster.  But even the players who were left standing had more talent than the club Bobby Valentine inherited when he took over the Mets in the late 1990's.  The difference was that he demanded excellence and heart from his players, while Jerry Manuel demanded that his players "tread water" until the stars came back.  I'm still scratching my head why we were supposed to wait for Delgado and Beltran to come back from the DL and be saviors - these were the same guys who were healthy when the team fell short in the 2006 playoffs and then had September collapses in 2007 and 2008. 

I wished the Mets could have backfilled the roster with some players with heart like we used to have - Turk Wendell, Benny Agbayani, Matt Franco, Joe McEwing, even Masato Yoshi for crying out loud, they may not have been blessed with superior talent  but they sure had intensity.  Al Leiter, John Franco, Cliff Floyd and Carlos Baerga won't get many Hall Of Fame votes but they sure etched a place in Mets fans hearts in a way that the current roster just hasn't and quite likely won't.

There was some great talent on the Mets roster last season, and Reyes and Santana are fun to watch, but they have been the exception to the rule of personality-devoid, essentially clutch-less robots collecting paychecks from the Wilpons.  How can we argue with Cole Hamels assertion that the team is made up of choke artists?  Was he wrong?

The Mets spent billions of dollars to build (and millions to hype) a stadium with obstructed views all over the place.  Dave Howard can debate the semantics if he'd like, but when I am sitting in the second row of a section and one handrail is blocking the pitcher from my line of sight, and another blocks the batter, and I have to peer through plexiglass to see anything, I am not getting my money's worth.

Omar Minya, Jeff Wilpon, Tony Bernazard, Dave Howard, Jerry Manuel... they all embarrassed themselves to such a degree in 2009 that I will not even waste another typestroke describing it.

However, here I am, just weeks away from Opening Day and I suddenly find myself excited for the season.

I can't even remember the last time I missed an Opening Day, and last year was the hardest ticket to come by.  The only way to get a seat to Opening Day last year was to buy a ticket plan of 15 games or more, or to pay a scalper.  Fortunately, I had a guardian angel hook me up so I wouldn't miss the first game in the new stadium.  That guardian angel would not be coming through in 2010.  However, I wouldn't need him.  The Mets announced that they were bringing back the Six Packs, which have been absent for at least five years, when the 6 pack became a 7 pack and then an eight pack, before last year the smallest package was 15 games, 14 of which were undesirable.

There is an Opening Day Six Pack for sale, and my two buddies and I were debating the investment.  The available seats were not great, but the price was not wholly unreasonable.  We were not sure whether to give more money to this club when they gave us so little in 2009.  Coincidentally, the same day we were discussing the purchase, I got a call from the Mets about 2010 tickets.  I'll leave this guy's name out of this post because I don't have his permission to print it, but I do want the record to show that my phone calls with this guy represented the best experience I have had with or related to the Mets since Carlos Beltran took a third strike looking.  I told the guy I wasn't sure about the seats, and he volunteered to take a walk out into the cold, and send me a picture from his blackberry of the seats available so I could be sure my view would be satisfactory.

Yes, I won't be able balls hit to the left field wall, and we won't be able to see Jason Bay if he's playing deep, and there are still some plexiglass panels within my field of vision, but just the fact that there is a guy working for the Mets who is still committed to customer service gives me a glimmer of hope that this season will not be an unmitigated disaster.

But even if it is, I am excited for six days to share a beer with my buddies and share some laughs (probably at the team's expense).

OK, Mets, Bring on Opening Day!

And bring back Bobby Valentine while you're at it.