Jose Reyes

Miami, You’ve Got Style

During the baseball off season, the Miami Marlins were the toast of the town, or more aptly, Major League Baseball.

They weren’t afraid of spending money.  They exemplified the ideal of “winning at all costs.”  Literally.  They went out and overspent on the likes of (former Met) Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle.  Traded for Carlos Zambrano.  And brought colorful manager Ozzie Guillen to rope these guys in.

As flamboyant as the team seemed to be, they paled in comparison to the flamenco-inspired **new** Marlins Park.

They even seemed to behave differently.  Hanley Ramirez was rumored to not be happy about his BFF taking his job. But he got over it, and seemed happy with the idea of winning.

People anointed them winners of the NL East.

This was not your mama’s Marlins.  Nooooo, they were going to win at all costs.

Till they didn’t.

Now, as of today, THIS is the Marlins we know and potentially love.  The Marlins of the 16 fans, and low attendance.  No, seriously, Forbes reported that their new stadium is drawing the fewest fans at a first year ballpark.  From a Mets fan who is also a season ticket holder, I saw first hand how bad it was once the Mets started losing in 2009.  Hard to imagine justifying spending money there, as a season ticket holder.

The Marlins of the fire sale.  They have/had some good names but for some reason can’t get their act together as a team.  Besides Bell, Buehrle, Reyes, there was Ramirez, along with Josh Johnson (coveted “ace” who has had a number of injuries in recent years), Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante…Oh and by the way, only three of those four latter names are still Marlins today.

Sanchez and Infante were traded to the Detroit Tigers, a difference a week makes going from a team that is now eight games under .500 to a team in the thick of its division race.

Ramirez, who was a coveted prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization at one point and was involved on the prospect end of a fire sale between the then-Florida Marlins and Sox in the winter of 2005, begrudgingly (or so the media wanted you to think) moved to third base to accommodate Reyes…only to be traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With rumors that not only will Johnson be thrown on the auction block to see what interest there is for him (oh, and there will be, no question), the Marlins have made no bones that no one is safe…even Heath Bell, who has had a pretty lackluster year as the Miami closer.

Yes, folks.  This is the Marlins we all know and love.  This is the Marlins franchise that has…

Won two world championships? (not to mention, has had significant amount of no-hitters in their franchise history, which blows my mind).

I actually had someone make that argument with me today, when some of my friends and I on Twitter were joking around about the Marlins’ situation.

Yes, I do realize that in 50 years, the Mets have had only two championships.  I also realize that the Mets have their shortcomings as well this season.  This month hasn’t been a particularly easy one either.

But the Marlins are interesting.  They have like 16 fans, their new park was supposed to draw more people to the park…and it hasn’t worked.  So they go back to the plan that they know works.  Which really isn’t a plan.  It’s more like lack of one.

You know what though?  Their championships?  They were almost accidents!  They’ve never won a division title (something the Mets have actually done), only to get into the World Series through the back door.  Hey, more power to them.

But don’t cop to me like it was some sort of original “plan.”  Far from it.

At the beginning of the season, everyone and their brother had their predictions.  I was on a show where I was outnumbered.  I said the Phillies, until they give me a reason not to believe it, would win the division (I’m thinking they’re giving me a reason).  Most of the opinions on the show had the Marlins.  I said that the Marlins could either be a one-hit wonder this year, or be a cast of characters that doesn’t do much.

I guess that balanced it out for me.

So Miami, I’m so happy you’ve returned, truly.  You’ve been a beautiful audience.  And I’m glad you stopped pretending you were a legitimate baseball organization, and gone back to what works for you.

Miami, you’ve got style!

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Sucks To Be Them

Well, hello, everyone.  I’m back.  I apologize a) for the brief hiatus and b) for not really leaving an explanation.  Truth is, I was moving, and had the attention span of a three year old.  Even if I wanted to write, if I could string a coherent sentence together, that would have been enough of a win for me.

But I’m ready now.  After my break, I plan to come back this Wednesday with my first podcast in about a month, and then broadcast regularly.  Also, something else interesting happened.

Baseball wasn’t doing it for me.

I was a little shellshocked from the New York Rangers season, to the extent that it took me awhile to get back to baseball.  That’s not to say that I wasn’t paying attention or enjoying it.  From R.A. Dickey’s spectacular start to Johan Santana’s no-hitter to other events in baseball, I have to say I was preoccupied.  But in a conversation I had last night with Tweeter @Gardenfaithfull, this is what I had to say.

And that was that. This was after all, right after David Wright hit a walk-off single to win the game and blown save of Jonathan Papelshmear, oops, Papelbon.  It was the first time that I shrieked watching baseball this year.  It was the first time I was afraid my neighbors thought I’d be murdered since watching hockey.

So I guess All-Star Break came at an opportune time, since I have a better feeling of how the Mets should be performing, but also with the other indicators in the NL East.

And what I can say about the Braves, the Phillies, the Marlins and the Nationals?  Sucks to be them.

Hear me out.

So there’s the Braves. The Braves are currently in third place in the division, but have an interesting thing going on.  Famed Met killer (not to mention Phillies killer) Larry Wayne Jones is going on his retirement tour.  So in essence, with Bobby Cox gone, and Chipper near done, it’s the end of an era.  But the Braves will always have young talent coming through their ranks to keep things interesting.

Sucks to be them.

Recently, they lost their young stud starter Brandon Beachy to a season-ending injury requiring surgery.  This led them to sign Ben Sheets, the oft-injured once-upon-a-time wunderkind starter himself.  I have kind of a thing for Sheets, I just always loved him, but I know his limitations as a pitcher.  So they replace an injured pitcher with a perpetual injury risk himself.   The Braves will always be somewhat of a threat to the Mets, but to be honest, I don’t see them being much of a threat this season.  Jonny Venters has not had a dominant season, coming back down to Earth as he was pretty much bullet proof in the ‘pen last year.

The Marlins.  Or the MarLOLins as you’re apt to see on Twitter.  Miami has proved that, once again, championships or divisions are not won by backpage headlines.  In fact, I’m sure with a cast of characters like Hanley Ramirez (not exactly known for playing nice with people), Jose Reyes (whom we all loved as Met), Carlos Zambrano (nuff said), Heath Bell (bwahhahahahahaha), Mark Buehrle (actually, I don’t have a problem with him, but he was on the FA list so there), and manager Ozzie Guillen, we all thought this could go one of two ways: Jeffrey Loria was trying to garner interest in his new park by spending money on top names, or the team would peak in year one, only to have the contracts take them down and have a fire sale in a few years.

Suffice to say, both were off for me.  While the park has lost some interest with dwindling attendance some nights, the team is certainly not peaking.  In fact, whoever had the over/under of team turmoil happening before the season started won with Guillen making some controversial comments on Fidel Castro, when his team plays right in the heart of Little Havana in Miami.  Oops.

But that’s not all.  Two days ago, Guillen ripped into the pitching staff of his team for giving up 13 runs to the Milwaukee Brewers, losing a game in extra innings via walk off when Heath Bell blew a save (something we hear about quite a bit, actually).  Bell is getting paid an average $9mm per year for three years to close in Miami, and he has five blown saves to record as of today.  That’s nuts, as my friend Sully says, don’t let his contract ruin the season.

Sucks for them.

For everyone who anointed this team as world beaters at the beginning of the season, I told my friends on a podcast of predictions that I didn’t think they were going to go anywhere.  I was in the minority.  I did, however, say the Phillies would win the division until they gave me good reason not to think they would.

I think they’ve given me reason.  Roy Halladay was hit with the injury bug in May, but he should be nearing his return soon.  That didn’t take away from the fact though, that Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were both out, formidable threats in the lineup.  Utley returned, kicking off a six-game losing streak with him on the active roster.  Then there was the curious case of Clifton Phifer Lee, who couldn’t buy a win with his $24 mm (till, you know, the Mets gift wrapped his first win for him).  Then Howard shows up, well on a return from his Achilles tendon injury, looking like he could be the next spokesperson for the bacon sundae at Burger King.

Sucks for them.

I know it’s only July, I know better than anyone that ANYTHING can happen between All-Star break and the last regular season game in September.  But honey, let me tell you, Rome is burning and Nero is fiddling, but substitute “Philadelphia” for Rome, and a fiddling Nero for I don’t know, some cheesesteak eating Eagles fan who got tired of waiting around for them to win a Super Bowl.  Look, Cliff Lee can go on a tear and win every single start from here on out.  Halladay could be the rug that ties the room together, and Howard might start smacking the crap out of the ball in his return.  It will also account that they are WAY behind in the game, Jimmy Rollins isn’t getting any younger, Shane Victorino’s days are numbered in a Phillies uniform (good riddance to that prick-torino), and Jonathan Papelbon is signed for four years, $50mm…and it’s as good as an automatic blown save for the Mets (okay, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point).  Oh and the beauty part?  Howard signed a gargantuan contract two years ago, that kicked in THIS YEAR: 5 years/$125mm.

Join me in a hearty BWAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

For the Nationals, though, it’s kind of curious.  I know, as it turns out, many good folks who are passionate about the Washington Nationals (follow @cnichols14 and @dugoutdiva for some good Nats tweets).  Though they are a division rival, I’m actually quite curious and kind of excited to see how they pan out this season.  I mean, I love Davey Johnson, that’s for sure.  As a Mets fan, I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for him to do well no matter where he goes.  Then there’s the future is so bright, we gotta wear shades kids.  Of course, I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  But yeah.  Sucks to be them.

Of course, Harper is tearing shit apart and kicking ass, taking names, etc.  But then Strasburg thing is a curious case, as he’s infamously been given an innings limit of 160 innings, maybe a few innings more according to GM Mike Rizzo.  I guess when it was imposed (at the beginning of the season) or suggested, the Nationals making the playoffs might have been a pipe dream.  The reality is, no one is running away with the division now AND with the advent of not one but two wild cards, it warrants some serious consideration about Strasburg’s usage, coming off an injury to being used full-out to win a division, which could happen.

Sucks for them to be put in that situation.  Sacrificing the future, or going with the win-now? Oh and I almost forgot, the beauty part.  Remember when Jayson Werth bolted Philly and signed a ginormous contract with the Nats, for a guy who never had 100 RBIs ever in his career (99 was his peak)?  Well, he got hurt earlier this season, and has spent significant time nursing a broken wrist.  Yet, Ryan Zimmerman, with a 6yr/$100 mm extension last year (till 2019 with a 2020 club option), has not been having a great prove-my-contract-worth year with a whopping .241/.304/.374 and 7 HRs and 38 RBIs.  Ouch.

Well, what about the Mets, you may ask?  Well, they are not without their warts either.  In a conversation with Kerel Cooper from On The Black last night, I told him that I was happy to be dead wrong about the starting pitching this year.  (Video will be posted in a few days).  Doesn’t mean I won’t have my concerns about going into the second half.  Johan Santana may not have a Strasburg-like limitation, but he did come off a devastating injury last year.  R.A. Dickey has been the man, but according to the New York Post, Dickey is 1-1 with a 7.79 ERA against teams he’s faced previously this season.  That’s kind of an ouchie, considering we really need someone like Dickster to step up his game against NL East teams down the stretch.  Then there’s Jon Niese, whom you all know I love, but he often has conditioning issues (and a heart surgery coming up during All-Star Break…as minor/outpatienty it sounds…yeesh).  Chris Young and Dillon Gee have been holding down the fort, but with Young’s propensity for the long-ball, and Gee’s youth, they need to also step their second half up.  Oh and the bullpen.  It sucks.

Moving right along though, David Wright has been having an outstanding season and he’s not even playing for a contract!  But then, there’s someone like Ike Davis, whom most Mets fans are rooting for, but his bout with Valley Fever and an injury comeback has hampered his play significantly.  We have a dude named Duda in RF who clearly has no clue how to play the position, and my ass is on Scott Hairston’s wikipedia page.  What’s worse?  Daniel Murphy has improved at his role as an infielder…but may be trade bait for the deadline.

Which leads me to….sucks for them all.

Each of these teams have to think about whether they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.  That will determine of course how much it sucks to be these teams.  Let’s recap, no one is running away with the division.  The Nationals are clear frontrunners, but anything can happen in the next half.  The Mets have been surprising, but can’t count our chickens as R.A. Dickey comes down to Earth and the bullpen with as many question marks as it has.  The Marlins…I doubt they will be buyers at the deadline, since they were already buyers in the offseason.  The Braves and Phillies look to be active in the trade market, but the Phillies are looking to be active sellers with names like Victorino being tossed around, or even Cole Hamels who is in a walk-year, and giving millions of reasons why he is worthy to be signed long term.

It sucks to be all of these teams.  Yet it sucks in a good way, because some of them can improve and it can easily become a two-horse race after the trade deadline.

On Paper

I’m not a person who blogs to “report” on shit.  Seems self-defeating right?  But not to me.  Quite frankly, I’m not going to write about something that you can get information on from like 500 different sites at the time it happens.  And they all tell you the same thing.

Plus, I’m an observer.  I like to think and mull things over before making an opinion or even an informed decision.  So when crazy contracts were being doled out back in December like free ice creams cone day at Ben & Jerry’s, I wasn’t going to weigh in right away.

But I can now.

Being a Mets fan, I’ve had my share of winning in the offseason versus the actual winning games on the field happen.  More often than I care to admit.  The Mets were also in the thick of things during the winter meetings and hot stove happenings, but mostly on the “wrong” side of them, simply by not dishing out a six-year contract to Jose Reyes.  My friend Sully from Sully Baseball even said that he didn’t think it was the end of the world for the Mets and I agreed with him.  I don’t have to like it, but I’m not going to jump off a bridge.

Besides, what are the odds that the Miami Marlins will actually hold onto Reyes for the duration of his contract?  Slim and none, and slim’s out of town, right?

There were many more moves besides Reyes.  There was Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to the I’m-Calling-Them-California Angels, Prince Fielder to Detroit Tigers and Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to the Marlins as well.

Until this little nugget of turd came out from the Sporting News, and I really had to analyze where they were going.  Basically, the gist of it is, if your team signed overpriced and payroll-choking talent that has had its hey-day (as Sully put it, paying for John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever years when you might get at least one year of Pulp Fiction if you’re lucky), you got an A.

The rest of your teams, though.  You’re all fucked.

Seriously, how fucking hard is it to definitively identify where a team’s strengths and weaknesses are.  Let me throw out the Mets for a second.  I’m not expecting much here.  Yet, Sandy Alderson has to make do with what he has, which is basically a bucket of shit.  There’s no mention in this piece about the trades he had to make, like Angel Pagan and then signing bullpen help to short-term deals with little risk and very high rewards.  He has very little wiggle room.  Do I expect much from this team this year?  No, but at least there’s some flexibility now.  It’s like this piece didn’t even address what the Mets had to work with.

What I love most though is the emphasis on the free agent signings.  Marlins and Angels get A+++++++ because they dished out more money than a sailor on leave in Amsterdam’s red light district.  What it doesn’t tell me, though, is what these deals are going to do to these teams long term.  You know, like prohibit them from making other moves and then being underwater with these contracts in two-three years.  Because trust me, this is going to happen.

Then there’s the obligatory Yankee ballwashing.  They made a good trade though and if they can trade AJ Burnett for a breathing human, I’d say it was a coup.  Yet, here’s what gets me: the Yankees always make these under the radar moves (like Curtis Granderson a few years back) to make them loss-proof in the playoffs.  Has that happened yet?  No.

The next best teams in the offseason were Detroit and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox gets brownie points for getting a good manager.  Now, they neglect to address one very small item: their team hasn’t changed all that dramatically except for the managerial spot, which was the least of their problems last season.  Terry Francona essentially stepped down for trying to do a good job.  He walked away because of unrealistic expectations put on a team that WON ON PAPER last offseason.  Remember how that panned out?  Oh yeah, they lost Game 162 to a team with absolutely nothing to play for since like MAY of that year.

As for Detroit, I have no idea how Prince Fielder makes them a 162-0 team, but hey, more power to them I guess.

I could go on and on, but I’ll address one more team on this list: the Washington Nationals.  The Nats are an intriguing team to me for a few reasons, but they also added the tutelage of Davey Johnson (whom you all should know I love), but they added former Oakland A’s-fan fave Gio Gonzalez via trade.  Now here’s the thing: when this trade went down, there were two factions.  One which thought Billy Beane was fleecing the Nationals for the four prospects he obtained in the trade, the other which went crazy when Gio left the Bay Area.  Neither one of those sides I’ve mentioned seems to think to the extent that this deal might actually work out in the Nationals benefit.  Sure, they might actually finish over .500 this year.  And I agree that maybe the deal does give them a “B” offseason.  Is this the type of deal that might hinder them long-term?  Perhaps.  I mean, it’s not like they’re making a bunch of moves that’s going to put them on a sustained path to a championship.

In fact, that’s not something I’m reading about ANY of these deals.  I see these deals working out like most long-term/high-dollar deals or trading the future for maybe one-to-two good years of a talent before they themselves become a free agent, like, never.

So that brings me back to my position as a Mets fan.  Could the offseason been any better?  Oh, absolutely, it could have.  As much as I hate to admit it, I don’t like the idea of not having Jose Reyes on our side, and feel that as a big market team they could have, under better circumstances, kept him around and it wouldn’t have been such a huge commitment, even six years.  The deal is what it is, and I’ve already let it go.

Then again, look at the deals that the team that did land him made.  Heath Bell: 3yr/$27mm.  Mark Buehrle: 4yr/$58mm.  The piece de resistance was the Carlos Zambrano trade.  I know from my fan base that Mets fans thought it might have been a good deal to swing, especially with the amount of money that the Chicago Cubs paid to essentially have him play for another team.  The Cubs didn’t make out too badly.  Theo Epstein, fresh off his revamping and rebranding the Boston Red Sox image over the past several years, got a once highly-touted prospect.  They might have eaten a lot of a bad contract but the idea is that this prospect could be a low-risk/high-reward type.

Yet, Zambrano is a known head-case.  I mean, this should go down as some must-see TV between Zambrano, new manager Ozzie Guillen and Marlins sandwich-short-of-a-picnic owner Jeffrey Loria.  Meanwhile, if someone like Alderson pulled off a deal like that, he would have been vilified by the fan base for trading away any prospect for Carlos Z with his known issues.  Damned is he does, etc etc.

This leads me to my conclusion.  As a Mets fan, I’m not unaware that their issues are more deeply rooted than not making the moves they should make to make the team better.  On the same point though I feel like they could be an exciting team to watch since I do believe that if we’re gonna lose, might as well do it with the young guys.

I suppose this rant is about my expectation level for a publication called “The Sporting News” to provide maybe a bit of detailed sporting analysis as to WHY these deals should work for these teams instead of just saying, “This team spent a lot of money this offseason, therefore they are going to rule.”  Maybe this year, but no one is addressing the pink elephant in the room, and how after year one, the majority of these deals simply won’t work in the team’s favor, just the players’.

Clearly, The Worst Team Money Could Buy was not required reading in their Sports Journalism 101 class.

Dirty Laundry

A little bit of loyalty goes a long way...for fans AND players.

I was 13 years old when I first had my heart broken.  True story.  My dad called me after school one day and said, there’s a rumor the Rangers might trade Tony Granato.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTT?????  I had to calm myself down and take a walk around my suburban neighborhood.  I had become a Ranger fan for good earlier that year (1989), when my dad took me to see some dude named Mario Lemieux play for the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Rangers, where another dude named Brian Leetch scored a shorthanded goal.  Hard to believe I was sitting in an arena with future hockey hall of famers, yet when I was thumbing through the program I saw two pictures that made my heart soar as a teeny-bopper 13 year old: Tony Granato and John Vanbiesbrouck.  Granato was also another rookie who came up along with Brian Leetch — defenseman of the future — and Beezer was a fan fave.

But to trade *my* favorite player and the hottest guy on the team?  Heart wrenching.  I could only imagine what my mom might have gone through when the Beatles broke up, as a girl of 14.

Yet, it prepared me.  Granato was traded, and the Rangers ended up winning the Cup a few years later on the back of hard workers like Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and Brian Leetch.  Leetch, who should have been a Ranger-lifer, was traded in the last few years of his career, but still came back to hoist his number to the rafters.

Cutting ties with Beezer was easier to take when it happened (especially since I loved Mike Richter). When my crush Gregg Jefferies was traded for Bret Saberhagen, my dad called me to break the news.  Expecting a shriek, I said, “Well, it’s Saberhagen.  He’s good.”  My objectivity kept me grounded.  And I learned to not get attached to certain players.

And that my friends, is our lesson of the day: you root for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back.

Gone are the days, as Frank at NY Fan in South Jersey, of the Cal Ripkens and Tony Gwynns of the world: baseball greats who are synonymous with the teams for which they played.  I don’t count the Yankees’ “core” of Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera because they overpay for the first two and Mo is a freak of nature.  Pretty much, we have the Houston Astros, whose Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell (to a lesser extent Lance Berkman) who are all over the leaderboards for the team but were also there for a generation, and Atlanta Braves’ Larry Jones.  Don’t give me the “Big Three” as an example: Tom Glavine left for the hated Mets (to them, not to me, of course) at one point and Greg Maddux, hypocrite who wanted to stay with the Cubs but opted for money, fame and championship caliber baseball in Atlanta.  Not like I can blame him.  I’m sure many of us would do the same thing.

The concept of the “hometown discount” is dead.  I would say you heard it here first, though many on Twitter said so today and even our very own Metstradamus said as much yesterday.  The Mets lost Jose Reyes, but this isn’t a team known for cultivating their own talent and keeping their homegrown players.  It should not surprise us nor should it be unexpected that this would happen.  Steve Keane at Kranepool Society said that he knew the Mets wouldn’t sign Reyes, and as he said a few months ago on our Kult of Mets Personalities podcast, that he actually thought Alderson HOPED someone would give Reyes a six-year contract.  Someone did, and we see the fallout from that.  We can only hope that it turns out to be a 20/20 hindsight good move.

Yet, I was surprised…nay, SHOCKED, really…that Albert Pujols left the Cardinals.  Yes, I know he and the Cards couldn’t come to an agreement before the season.  But I also know that people counted the Cards out when Wainwright was hurt.  And hey, did you hear who won the World Series this year?

But raise your hand if you thought if there was such a thing as “company loyalty” left in baseball, there was such a thing as a “hometown discount,” that Pujols would have typified that.   **RAISES BOTH HANDS AND FEET**  Yeah, I am that chick.  I hear all these great stories about the fans in St. Louis, how loyal they are, how every player LOVES playing there, no one ever wants to leave.  Even careers get rejuvenated in St. Lou.  Look at Berkman, who seemed like he left his best years behind in Houston.  Even though Pitchers Hit 8th told me that Pujols pretty much stated he wasn’t looking for a hometown discount, I didn’t believe it.

There is Larry Jones.  There is Derek Jeter.  But these guys are exceptions to the rule that the name on the back of the jersey does not trump the name on the front of the jersey (yet, if you talked to Jeter’s GM Brian Cashman last year, he made negotiations uncomfortable by telling Jeter to get another offer better than the one they were offering).

I was 13 years old when I learned my lesson.  That you’re only as good as the team you play on, and if you can get a better return in value, then that happens too.  I’m not saying we can’t get attached to our favorite players (I am accepting of losing Reyes, but I will still miss him and wonder “what could have been”), but if we realize that we root for a larger entity as fans — the “laundry” — we’ll save ourselves much pain and anguish in the long-run.

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

I’ve been a Mets fan since I was seven.  I’ve seen a lot in my not-so-short yet not-quite-as-long as others.  I’ve seen the Mets win a World Series in front of my own eyes, but I also saw Mike Scioscia sucked the life out of a team and a fanbase on a cold October night in 1988.  I’ve seen two celebrations for an NL East at home, but I also saw Carlos Beltran take strike three.  I was at “Closing Day” at Shea Stadium, but I’ve been to many many games at CitiField, where we’ve yet to create our fond memories.

I was in diapers when Tom Seaver was traded, but rumor has it I was snoozing in my crib while my dad cried watching the evening news that night.  I was in first grade when the Mets were on WOR and some guy named Keith was playing for them, and my dad had baseball on more often than he had before.

I saw Dwight Gooden fall to his demons many many times.  I saw Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell traded for Juan Samuel.  Darryl Strawberry, nicknamed the “Black Ted Williams” when he was being scouted, walked away from the Mets to go home to L.A.  Generation K never lived up to our expectations, and Bobby Jones started out as overrated but became underrated as he left the team. The great dream of Scott Kazmir was dashed away when the Mets decided to become a “win-now” team with missing puzzle piece Victor Zambrano.

So is life, as Harry Belafonte once sang on The Muppet Show, for a Mets fan.

In the offseason leading to the 2008 season, I wrote a piece at my inaugural Mets blog My Summer Family when Johan Santana was traded to the Mets.  Its Always Darkest Before Dawn, I called it, because it was right after 2007 and the collapse and everything sucked.  And I just remembered that it’s never easy being a Mets fan.  And look…Johan Santana hasn’t quite lived up to our expectations either.  Then again, we should not be surprised.

The sun will come out tomorrow.  Little Orphan Annie sang this about better days to come.  I think we can gain a lot from this message for a lot of aspects of life.  If you’re still breathing, you have a bad day, you get dumped, whatever, chances are the days will go on and you’ll overcome it.

And we’ll overcome our loss of Jose Reyes.  It won’t be easy, and it won’t be fun, but it will happen because…it will happen.  It just has to.  When Beltran’s caught looking ended an improbable run in 2006, and then started a chain of events for failure with the team, we’re still here.  We’re still breathing.  We’re still rooting and believing just like we normally do.

Is it horrible to lose Reyes?  I won’t lie to you: it is.  But not for the reasons you think.  To be blunt, this is a business.  Free agents come and go and Reyes was no exception.  It happens. We root for the laundry and not the player (just the players who wear the laundry).  Sadly, this team was not winning with Reyes…they can keep not winning without him.

That can be simplistic I know.  Especially for a man who was the Mets’ first batting champion and is beloved by fans all over.  At the end of the day, Jose Reyes will be a Miami Marlin…and we’ll have to get over it.

The sun came out this morning, and will continue to rise in the east and set in the west every day after.  So fare thee well, Jose.  We’ll miss you, it will be hard to get over you, but we’ll do it eventually.

You. Cannot. Be. Serious.

I don’t want to say, “You won’t find a bigger Jose Reyes fan than me,” because quite honestly, there probably are many more who are bigger.  But I do love him.  I hope he stays a Met, but I am a realist in knowing his limitations as a player and what his “value” may be, for better or for worse.  But I don’t come to you today in writing that.  No, far from it.

If you watched the game today, Jose Reyes bunted for a single in his very first at-bat.  Today was Game 162, in a very meaningless season in an equally-as-meaningless game, after said bunt single, Reyes was pulled for pinch runner Justin Turner.

There were several subthemes in today’s story.  One was that it was Game 162, and Reyes is playing for a contract.  Reyes has also been hurt twice this season, one of his limitations as a player (his legs, and his game is based on his legs).  Two is that Terry Collins even said prior to the game that if Jose Reyes were to get two hits quickly, he’d be pulled.  Third?  Jose Reyes is “fragile” with his legs, and it’s been well-documented that Collins wanted to give him the day game after a night game off.  Two reasons Reyes started today?  1) To appease fans who wanted to wish him well in case this happened to be his last game as a Met and 2) To preserve his lead in the batting race.

You want to know what I was upset about this afternoon?  That I couldn’t go crazy and give a proper standing ovation for my current favorite Met, Jose Reyes.  (Optimistic Mets Fan, Ceetar, said I could give him my standing O when he returned in April…I hope!!).  What I would have liked to do is send him to his position in the 2nd inning, send Justin Turner out there, and have Jose take a curtain call.  People looked at me like I was crazy when I was chanting, cheering and screaming.  Most of the folks who were getting settled in their seats didn’t even realize he was being taken out.  Collins did us dirty, in my opinion.  But we learned later that this was Reyes’ doing.  (Collins also did the same thing with fan favorite David Wright later in the game, giving a pinch runner,instead of allowing Wright to take his position and then come out).

Look, if this was any other day game after a night game situation, none of us would say shit about it.  The reality is, we want our players to “earn” things.  The common refrain I’ve been hearing is, “Well Ted Williams played the last game of the season to preserve his .400 average.”  Well, Reyes is NOT Ted Williams.  The GAME isn’t even of the ilk of Ted Williams day!  ENOUGH ALREADY!!!  Will it make us feel better if it was earned “fair and square,” whatever the Hell that means?

There was no HGH involved, like some tainted records.  There was no “stats padding” involved, like some players are accused of (Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez, etc).  Even a Milwaukee writer defended Reyes earlier, saying that batting titles have been gamed since the beginning of time.

For all the in-fighting I have seen amongst Mets fans, (and trust me, I’ve seen a lot and have been part of many arguments), this has to be one of the most asinine I’ve ever witnessed.

In my years as a blogger, I’ve been a “bitch,” a “loudmouth,” a “know-nothing” (because I am a woman), and a “non-fan.”  The “non-fan” thing always cracked me up, because I don’t think I could ever be accused of that (the other stuff is fair game).   There was one night, as an example, on Twitter where I had a raging migraine, and there was a particularly tedious game on the TV. I made a comment to the universe at the game, that I wouldn’t have lasted as long as they would have.  Some non-entity later told me that, “You’re not a real fan” because I made a comment that I wouldn’t have lasted as long.

I’ve been a fan since I was seven.  That was a LONG time ago.  I go to 30+ games a year, and go to games on the road.  But I’m not a “real fan.”  **SMH.**

I made it a point to never judge another person who called themselves a fan from that point on.  I have friends on the West Coast who can’t make as many Mets games as they’d like.  I have friends close by that can’t make as many games as they’d like.  Does that make them less of a fan?  No.  Just to self-righteous people it does.

My point is, I don’t like to judge or gauge people’s fandom towards the team we both love.  But today takes the prize hands down.  We have a great player who could potentially win something, a MEANINGLESS something, a piece of paper, that no other player who wore their uniform before has won.  And they still wish to diminish it.  My personal favorite?  Some have even said they wish that Ryan Braun goes 5-for-5 today. On “principal!”

I’m going to come right out and say it..

YOU ARE NOT A FAN.  AND YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS.  (My friend Dave is excluded, but he’s a more of an emotional spectrum of fan, so I let is slide. Plus I know him, and I’m biased).

Furthermore, where the Hell are all the “true Mets fans” who will defend not only Reyes, but also tackle the media that is out to get the Mets?  Before, it was all over Terry Collins.  Collins said it was Reyes’ idea.  Now everyone is quick to throw Reyes under the bus.  The other day, there was a trend on Twitter that was #NegativeMetsHeadlines.  One was: “Mets throw first no-hitter, lose perfect game in 3rd.”  It’s that type of shit that sells newspapers folks and causes all this infighting! ENOUGH!

Look, I will freely admit, some of my favorite players of all time in baseball were not Mets.  To this day, my hero is Cal Ripken Jr.  Currently, I am in love with Matt Kemp and Ryan Braun.  Yeah, I said it, the guy who is in battle for the batting title with my own Jose Reyes (who is my favorite Met, as I’ve illustrated several times).  Ryan Braun is a legit MVP candidate.  If his team makes it to the World Series (which I hope, if only to knock out the Phillies), I’ll root for him and hope he does well.  I’m sure the “batting title” means very little to him at this point compared to a ring and an MVP award.  This is just my personal feeling.

In conclusion, I get why Mets fans are just so angsty and so angry.  For over five years, we’ve been sitting in our seats, waiting for that moment we want to leap out our seats to celebrate something.  It hasn’t happened.  So what if Reyes wins a batting title and he bunted his last at bat to get to that point? Does it matter?  Because in a few years, when we look at the batting title champion wall in the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum, we’d have probably forgotten about how he got there in the first place.

The Myth of the Franchise Player

Synonymous with Mets is Tom Seaver.  “Tom Terrific” is known as “The Franchise,” the player who was singularly responsible for making the Mets relevant.  Adding him to the pitching staff with the likes of Jerry Koosman, Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan, and coupling him with players like Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee, caused the Mets to win their first championship in 1969.

Legend has it that the Mets were never quite the same after Dr. Evil himself, M. Donald Grant, traded away the Franchise, literally and figuratively, for some spare parts. It was true, in a way, but then again, so was the dynamic changing in baseball. Indirectly relating to the trade of Tom Seaver was the underlying notion that he wanted to be paid up, suckas.  Grant didn’t think Seaver was above the Mets name, and subsequently got rid of him by planting some unfavorable quotes in the NYC sports “tabloids,” if you will.

But the dynamic was also changing because of the era of free agency.  And to that, I ask, is the “franchise player” still relevant?

You know who that is: the guy who is known for playing for one team; who made his mark with one team; who may have played for another team, but was never quite the player he was with that synonymous team.  I think the closest we might have today is Albert Pujols. That, however, may change this offseason due to his contentious situation with being the best player in baseball (well, maybe Alex Rodriguez takes umbrage with that) and being a free agent.  I think his brand with the Cardinals is significant, but as my friend Bill Ivie has said, the Cardinals were a great franchise before Pujols, they’ll still be a great franchise without him.  Time will tell.

But then look at Carlos Beltran.  Perhaps one of the most divisive Mets in recent memory, his injuries may prevent him from ever making the Hall of Fame.  Yet, I had a Twitversation the other day with some other Mets fans about him playing a few more years, uninjured. I think if it walks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck, and Beltran cannot stay healthy.  I said, the harsh reality is he could be another Moises Alou, a great player whose injury-marred seasons keep him from getting his call to the Hall.  However, someone said, if he DID come around with great numbers and played into his 40s without as many injuries, it would be hard pressed to have him go in as a Met, even though he did play seven years with them.

I guess I am raising these questions because of the Mets’ own “Franchise Players” and “Faces of the Franchise,” David Wright and Jose Reyes.

The Mets and those of us who live, breathe and eat any information surrounding the team have a contentious situation on their hands, especially regarding Reyes’ status as a free agent after the 2011 season.  Couple that with David Wright, which is another contentious situation in and of itself.  While not a free agent, he has an option that he can decline if he gets traded (which makes him a less attractive trading candidate), but then he’s had a noticeable drop off, but on the flip side he’s had one of his first injury-plagued seasons in recent memory (he’s been relatively healthy, considering all the injuries this stupid team has had in the last three years).

It gives me pause because they are still young and productive, yet I wonder if perhaps we all need a change of scenery.  Meaning we, as fans, with the same “cornerstone” players, and the players themselves.  M. Donald Grant may have been a Douchecanoe Deluxe, but perhaps he was prophetic in trying to set with us, that a player isn’t above the Franchise.  Well, he was wrong in the case of Seaver, but the dynamic of the game has changed since then.

Look at the Dodgers.  Their two franchise players, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, are essentially the equivalent of our Reyes and Wright.  They even have an A+ starter in Clayton Kershaw.  And they STILL can’t fucking win or make money!

Look, the Mets situation is precarious, and perhaps I am too close to it.  I was discussing on Twitter (and if you aren’t following me you SHOULD!! @Coopz22) the other with my friends over at the Daily Stache about the Reyes situation.  Basically, I feel like the issue is now that the Mets are mailing it in (something that Terry Collins is NOT happy about), we are going on our third straight losing season, our legs and asses are cramped up from wanting to jump for joy but we can’t because there is nothing making us do that, and now the prospect of losing guys we feel should be in Mets uniforms forever is something we are nonchalant about.  “Whatever,” has been my philosophy at this point.

I know things will change once the postseason is over, and who knows, maybe the Mets and Reyes will come to an agreement and we’ll be happy.  But I think what will make us happier is WINNING.  Reyes and Wright certainly has not been enough.  The onus is on the personnel to seriously evaluate the team and not attend to what the fans want.  Yes, I know Reyes makes us a lot of us happy.  And his injuries are a cause for concern, especially since they basically have said his running game (what makes Jose Jose) has been halted because of his hamstring issues this year.

I know I would hold onto Reyes simply for emotional reasons because I love him and want him to be a Met forever.  The other more rational side of me says that the time is not now. This team is a few years away from winning, and would it make a huge difference to lose with him or without him.