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The Mets Have Become the Real Life Major League

By Mike Silva ~ December 22nd, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets.

The Mets financial problems have brought endless jokes and ridicule. If the Miami, don’t call me Florida, Marlins aren’t outspending them this offseason, there is the New York Times piece from earlier in the week about the perks given to a potential minority owner. Not only does $20 million dollars give you a 4% stake in the team with the ability to earn 3% interest from an ownership group with insurmountable debt, but you get business cards, a parking space, and access to Mr. Met. Add in the recent downsizing of staff and elimination of a minor league franchise and the writers from the film “Major League” couldn’t have created a better story.

Rough times are nothing new to a franchise that will be 50 years old this coming season. Their inaugural season in the league resulted in a record 120 losses. Fifteen years later they traded their lone Hall of Fame player in Tom Seaver for a collection of role players and backups. It led to what many believe was the darkest period in team history as the Yankees won back-to-back championships and the Mets played in front of less than a million fans at Shea Stadium. After a run of prosperity, the early to mid-nineties brought the “worst team money could buy” as high-priced free agents made more news for what they did off the field than on it.

This new era, however, is something that even long-time fans can’t relate. I mentioned the movie Major League earlier, but what we are seeing is a script from that comedy played out in real life. You have an ownership group using gimmicks and elaborate schemes to raise money. You have a GM forced to bring in no-name players to replace his stars because of budgetary constraints. You might not have Randy Quaid sitting in the outfield complaining, but there will be plenty of empty seats ala the fictitious Municipal Stadium in that movie. All that is needed is a bespectacled reliever who throws hard without control. Does anyone know if Bobby Parnell wears contact lenses?

The difference is Major League was a movie, this is reality. On more than one occasion this offseason I had Mets fans tell me that it’s becoming hard to follow the team. They have enough aggravation in their life and the drama of Wilpon ownership is one they don’t want to add. Baseball should be entertainment, but the Mets have become a lesson in law, finance, and broken corporate structure. Paying customers could get that on their company retreat; is it necessary to pay for the privilege on your personal time?

With that said, I don’t think this is as bad as the 1970s or even the early 90s. There is a management team in place that has a plan; unfortunately they have to adjust to the cliff notes version because of payroll constraints. The money will eventually run out for the Wilpons and force them to sell. It’s a matter of the fans showing patience in the final days of this reign of error.

From what I read, the Mets of the late 70s were solvent franchise that simply didn’t want to adjust to the new world of free agency and big money players. M. Donald Grant viewed himself as a lord to the serf ballplayers. Tom Seaver’s quote on a recent MLB Network interview about Grant’s anger over him joining a country club tells it all. Ironically, Fred Wilpon was part of an ownership group viewed as the saviors when they purchased the club in 1980.

The early nineties certainly was a solvent team.  They had one of the higher payrolls in baseball, but a front office was in charge that didn’t understand how to build a team. They ignored red flags in the personalities of manager Jeff Torborg, Bobby Bonilla, and Eddie Murray. They built a team based on past statistics and fantasy baseball hope. They got burnt, so they cut back their spending to small market levels. Again, a good front office worked to rebuild the farm system, but there was still the presence of the Wilpons. If not for Nelson Doubleday, the acquisition of Mike Piazza from the Marlins may never have come to fruition. Without that, it’s hard to see the great run under Bobby Valentine that resulted in the 2000 National League pennant.

No one wants to have their favorite team associated with one of the all-time great baseball comedies. No one wants to see a beautiful ballpark in Citi Field empty for the majority of the summer of 2012. No one wants to hear the names Madoff, Picard, Wilpon, or Einhorn unless it involves the sale of the team.

Right now, the Mets are the real-life Indians from Major League. That won’t last that much longer so take solace in a promising farm system and young players at the major league level that have potential. Rachel Phelps, I mean, Fred Wilpon won’t be sitting in that suite at Citi Field that much longer.  At the very least we already know he won’t be driving attendance down to move the team to Miami.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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6 Responses to The Mets Have Become the Real Life Major League

  1. Kent Roberts

    Great article. One thing I disagree with is the “new management has a plan.”
    Alderson and his well paid assistant GM’s have not done much aside from trading Beltran. That was a nice move but getting so little for Reyes departure was awful.
    Alderson is an MLB caretaker, who is here to slash costs. He isn’t committed to building a contender. He works for Selig, not the Mets That will fall to the new ownership group. It will be 5-7 years before the Mets are relevant again.

  2. Anonymous

    Yesterday, your site mentioned the Mets supposedly ramping up efforts to trade wright. Needless to say, I hope that’s not true. And I haven’t seen ANYTHING About that supposed Rockies deal (or any other deal involving wright) anywhere. I read all the ny papers, most of the blogs and facebook groups, follow all the national and local guys on twitter, listen to wfan, watch MLBn etc. Not a word of that anywhere. And when I was at the hot stove event at Citi, alderson said “I don’t see david going anywhere.”. I realize you can’t necessarily divulge your “sources,” but I am wondering about the origin of this rumor, and if there really is anything to it. I realize the mets are trying to save as much money as possible, but trading wright before the season even starts will cost them a LOT (at the gate, etc.) And if all they can get are mediocre players with modest potential (such as those mentioned on your site), they’d be crazy. And that’s how fans would view it. Even if they could get a stud for him, they’d be better off keeping him (for morale, etc. If nothing else), but at least then I could begin to fathom and understand it. But not for young and a struggling prospect. Any further info/update that you could provide????

  3. Scott

    kent, you said Sandy has not done much besides trade beltran? He did not finally recommend to ownership to release Ollie & Luis? They have changed the philosophy of the team by building the farm system and changed how the team drafts players. Besides, the wilpons are flat broke, borrowing money to pay off other loans as you saw in the bridge loan they just took out. What exactly do you want sandy to do when he cannot spend a few million bucks on a backup catcher so the team is being forced to go with Nickeas????

  4. Brien Jackson

    Um, Rachel Phelps wasn’t trying to be cheap, she was deliberately trying to lose games to break the team’s stadium lease so she could relocate and get a new stadium.

    Seems a lot closer to the A’s and nothing at all like the Mets.

  5. UncleMario

    Speaking of Rachel Phelps and Major League, did anyone on the Mets placed a Voodoo hex on the organization ala Pedro Cerrano (Dennis Haysbert)? That could explain a lot that happen since Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

  6. Mike Silva


    The hex was the deal with the devil someone made during the 10th inning of Game 6, 1986

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