By Mike Steffanos
In this week's Sunday Punch column on the New York Baseball Central web site, Mike McGann takes a tongue-in-cheek look at this past weekend's celebration of the 1986 championship team:
I suppose it was inevitable that the Mets would go nuts over the 20th anniversary of winning the World Series. As you all remember, the Yankees held a nearly week-long celebration of the 1977 World Series title by being kind enough not to win, or even play in, that year's series -- but managed to win '96, '98, '99, 2000 and lost in 2001.
In other words, if the Yankees celebrated anniversaries of world titles, they'd pretty much be celebrating every year. As old George Steinbrenner and previous Yankee owners figured out long ago, the best way to celebrate greatness is to win even more.
I'm not sure how serious McGann was in penning these words, but I've run across this sentiment put across quite seriously many times in the past couple of weeks. There seems to be an opinion out there that the Mets should just apologize to everyone for the terrible transgression of playing in New York and failing to be the New York Yankees. Given the Bronx bias of many of the area's sports columnists, I suppose this is to be expected. The team in Queens is often treated like a poor stepchild, while the nine that plays their games in that mausoleum in the Bronx is the favorite son.
The Mets have certainly contributed to this bias by running their organization poorly for about two-thirds of their existence. While the Yankees were spending their way to titles, the Mets waffled back and forth between pathetic periods of penury and extremely ill-advised shopping sprees. When they managed to hit on the winning formula for any length of time, it was a safe bet that they would shoot themselves in the foot eventually.
Still, some seem to find it incredulous that, in this city dominated by the soulless automaton in the Bronx, there are indeed people who insist on becoming Mets fans. Even more amazingly, most of them actually remain Mets fans.
Not all, of course. In my opinion, one of the lowest forms of life on this planet, one short step above serial killers, are those who switched their allegiance from the Mets to the Yankees. I've known some of these people personally, and have nothing but contempt for them. I think most Mets fans feel the same way. That's why those in the media who seem to believe that all Mets fans secretly wish for our team to become the Yankees always amuse me. This also seems to be the opinion of most Yankee fans who can't conceive of rooting for a team that doesn't try to buy every good player in baseball.
All I've ever asked for from the Mets is to run the team in a professional manner, and have a plan and stick to the plan. It seems they're finally doing that. They seem to be following a model somewhat similar to that of the Red Sox, if not quite so Money Ball oriented: develop some of your own talent, and mix in some key free agents. They also seem to be upgrading and standardizing their player development. If done correctly, this could ensure that the team remains competitive most of the time, without the need to maintain a payroll that is $75 million higher than their closest competition. There will always be pressure to react to the latest cross-town shopping spree, but sometimes the Mets will just need to maintain discipline and let the Yankees go their own way. Maybe we won't be the favorite ever year, but it shouldn't take 20 years to win another championship. That's what I ask out of this team.
Personally, I see nothing wrong with this team celebrating its own history, even if some in the media don't understand. Maybe we have only won 2 titles in 44 seasons, but they're our titles, and as a fan I am proud of them. Rather than bemoan the scarcity of banners flying over the stadium, I just want to see Omar and company continue in their efforts to ensure that those banners will be joined by some others on a more consistent basis in the future.
Bergen Record: Speaking of gloom and doom...
Bob Klapisch is a very good baseball writer, and I used to enjoy reading him whenever he decided to take a break from writing about the glorious Yankees. This quote is representative of why I don't read him very often any more:
It's hard to imagine the Mets surviving Glavine's absence in October, not with Pedro Martinez having turned into a six-inning pitcher (when he's not on the DL). Losing Glavine wouldn't just decimate the rotation, it would puncture the Mets' psychologically, too.
He's classy, trustworthy, as stand-up as Paul Lo Duca is sleazy. The parallel between Glavine and the Yankees-era Cone is so strong, the repeat of history is almost too surreal to believe.
Not having Glavine pitch in the playoffs will be a loss, no doubt, but Klapisch has to lay on the melodrama with a trowel. With what we've learned about Willie Randolph's Mets this season, the idea of them being "punctured psychologically" is laughable, as is "Bronx Bob's" gratuitous shot at Lo Duca. Calling Lo Duca sleazy after previously regaling us with feel-good stories about Jason Giambi's "comeback" is hypocritical. Do us all a favor, Bob -- stick with writing about the Yankees.
Boston Globe: Also not the Yankees
Nick Cafardo's article highlights Red Sox GM Theo Epstein defending the approach of the team in trying to develop talent from within rather with an eye on both the present and the future. Since this seems to be the approach the Mets are taking, I found it interesting:
Since I've been GM, we've never focused exclusively on the now, and we never will. We're not going to change because of a tough month. We are not the Yankees. ... Our approach is a little bit different, given our resources relative to the Yankees; we feel our best way to compete with them year in and year out is to keep one eye on now and one eye on the future and to build something that can sustain success.
We're not going to change our approach and all of a sudden try to build an uberteam, and all of a sudden win now at the expense of the future. ... That's the reality. It's going to occasionally leave us short, it's going to leave us short every time there's a player who's available in a bidding war, taking on a contract, getting the best free agent. We're never going to sell ourselves out just to get that one guy because we have to take a long-term view given our resources relative to the Yankees. That's the only way to do it.
Some Red Sox fans fall into the same trap that some Mets fans do, wanting their team to be like the Yankees, and buy their way into competing year after year for the title. I like what the Red Sox have done this year, and I say that as someone who is no fan of that team. It's not like they tore everything down to rebuild this year, but they've taken a step back and are developing some of their terrific pitching talent. This has been an ugly weekend for Sawks fans (sorry, no tears for them here), but in a year or so the Sox are going to have a terrific young staff to build around while the Yankees will continue to scramble and overpay for pitching. I think the Red Sox blueprint makes a lot of sense for the Mets in the long run.
Newsday: And the lone voice of sanity is...
Wallace Matthews doesn't always endear himself to Mets fans, but he's on the money here:
"We've got a lot of pitchers we can bring up if we have to," Minaya said. "[Mike] Pelfrey and [Alay] Soler are close to coming back, and Bannister could pitch in the major leagues today if we needed him. From the beginning of the year, I felt our strength was in our numbers."
Especially this number: At the close of business yesterday, the Mets still held a 14-game lead over the second-place Phillies. They have a magic number and they're having a magical season.
One cold finger, even if it belongs to Tom Glavine, is not likely to mess that up.
Mack's Mets Notes: Shape up or...
Mack takes a look at Mets Minor Leaguers who are not achieving at the various levels of the system.