HomeTeamsMetsWhen it comes to the Mets I am not impartial!

When it comes to the Mets I am not impartial!

National baseball writers are expected to be impartial. National writers are counted on to not have an overly biased view when it comes to reporting on their favorite team. I know that great writers such as The Athletic’s Jayson Stark and Tyler Kepner are Phillies fans. Occasionally both make references to the Phils, but if you didn’t know you wouldn’t know. I can’t tell you who Ken Rosenthal’s favorite team might be. The main difference between these HOF writers (I expect Kepner will get that honor one day), besides that they get paid real money to write and are famous unlike me, is that while I write about baseball, I don’t have to be impartial when it comes to the Mets. Hooray for being able to look at things one-sidedly! The problem for Mets fans is the history long and recent, is just too damn hard to ignore. 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way you should know that I am not an angry Mets fan. There are plenty of those and it’s not that I don’t understand those that are angered by the long-term under-performance of the Mets. I had a hard time writing that because I love, live and die as a Met fan way more than should be the case. I grew up a Met fan first going to an Opening Day when I wasn’t yet 8 years old. I remember walking up the dark corridor at Shea Stadium that first time and coming to the opening at the top to see the field in all its glory. It seemed surreal!

Maybe I am not angry because the Mets came out of nowhere to win the World Series when I was 10 years old. If you want to bind a fan to a team, have that kid experience a championship when they are 10 years old. This is why I am also a Jet fan AND Knick fan. The Jets won Super Bowl III in January of 1969, the Mets won the World Series that October, (in between the Americans happened to walk on the moon), and the Knicks won the NBA championship in May of 1970. The New York Rangers were unable to win the Stanley Cup to make it all complete, so when the Islanders were born in 1972, I immediately switched allegiances. Consider that the Islanders won 4 cups in a row from 1979-1982 so that move worked out well even if 1982 is a long time ago.

It also follows that when writing about my favorite teams, any of which, Mets, Jets, or, Knicks all should be preceded by ‘long-suffering’. The Islanders are not quite there. Yet.

Most Mets fans as old as I am, probably are not angry either. Resigned is the better adjective. Ultimate success, winning a World Series, always seems to be out of reach even before the season begins. I can’t remember the last time the Mets went into a season and as a fan I thought, ‘hey this team is a favorite to be in the World Series.’ 2015 when the Mets made it to the Fall Classic, that was surprising, and in 2000 the same. In those seasons everything seemed to go right. Until they reached the World Series. With Mets fans the black cloud is never very far away.    

Here’s another reason to long-suffering fans like me are deflated. The aging of the 1986 World Series Championship is going on 38 years. It’s true that there are teams who’ve accomplished less since 1986, like the Mariners, Tigers, Padres, Rockies, Pirates, Brewers, and yes even the Orioles. All those teams have not won a World Series in the past 38 years, and you can add to that list the Guardians who’ve participated in a few World Series since then, (1995, 1997, 2016), but have not won it all since 1948, the longest drought in MLB.

If the word is not ‘resigned’ when it comes to the Mets fans like me, it’s frustrated. But still not angry, at least not recently. When the Wilpon’s owned the team there was both frustration AND anger and good reason for both. However, I can’t be angry with current team owner Steve Cohen, who has displayed a willingness to invest in the team up and down the organization. When the Dodgers took the corporate approach after being purchased by Guggenheim Partners, it took a few years to build the organizational structure for which they are now praised. With the hiring of David Stearns as President of Baseball Operations Mets fans are counting on the team taking steps down the path set by the Dodgers. The Dodgers have only won the 2020 World Series having made the playoffs 15 out of the past 20 seasons and 11 in a row. Any Met fan would sign up for half of that at this point. 

For the Mets, in 2023 bringing in two Hall-of-Fame pitchers was a good and even worthwhile try but clearly did not work out well. But it beat not taking a shot at all! Before Steve Cohen owned the team Mets fans were thoroughly unaccustomed to the team spending huge money on free agents. They signed a few big-name free agents here and there over the years – some that worked out like Carlos Beltran, and others that didn’t like Jason Bay. But dropping $86M in one season on two pitchers as happened in 2023? That was different! As was the bold decision to cut bait with both Scherzer and Verlander in-season to obtain young talent that could aid in replenishing a depleted minor league system. Not living with your mistake for another painful season as very un-Mets like. 

When the Mets have been successful it’s always been about their great pitching. Some teams have a reputation for pitching, others like the Red Sox and Yankees are known more for their hitting when their teams have been championship quality. It’s not that great teams don’t have any great pitchers or are good enough to succeed with lousy pitching. Pitching is and will always be critical. But the great Yankee and Red Sox teams (after the dead-ball era so all the Babe Ruth and Red Sox fans of the 4 World Series winners in the 1910s can be acknowledged), have been more mashers than pitching-centric. The same can be said of the Big Red Machine.

Do I have hope for a Mets World Series championship in 2024? Of course! I am a Met fan and can talk myself into the unlikeliest of scenarios in which the ‘experienced’ starting pitchers far outperform their projections. The term ‘experienced is used when the talent isn’t quite what you might hope. Edwin Diaz comes back and dominates, Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor, Brandon Nimmo rake all season. Mark Vientos can acceptably field his position at 3B and is an OPS+ terror. Francisco Alvarez blossoms even more to be a top NL catcher, Jeff McNeil returns to all-star form, Starling Marte is healthy (as is the team as a whole) and productive, and the right now uncertain bullpen arms leading up to Diaz coalesce into a fearsome force. Drew Gilbert a would-be future star outfielder for the Mets comes up late season offering the team a jolt of positive energy. Hey this is MY dream, ok?

Lest you think I am merely another delusional Met fan, the realist in me says that the Mets winning 84 games this year would be a step up in the right direction from the 75 they won in 2023. In the NL East the Braves and the Phillies are better, and the Marlins are a peskier thorn than they’ve been in the recent past. Competing for a Wild-card playoff berth feels like the best that can be expected. The dreaded phrase ‘Playing meaningful games in September’ probably applies. However, in this winter of Mets fan’s continued discontent, hope should spring eternal because, we’re Mets fans and Ya Gotta Believe! As I noted, when it comes to the Mets, I am not impartial.

Mark Kolier
Mark Kolierhttps://mlbreport.com/
Mark Kolier along with his son Gordon co-hosts a baseball podcast called ‘Almost Cooperstown’. He also has written baseball-related articles that can be accessed on Medium.com, Substack.com and now MLBReport.com.


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