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I'm Happy That the Mets Are Not the Yankees

Mike SteffanosMonday, August 21, 2006
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.

More Mets Stories:
SportsSpyder Mets

Continuous Mets Coverage:
Hot Foot

Comments (12)

Hi MIke- I've heard it anout the celbration of the 20 years also-and the comments about how if the Yankees did this they would celebrate all the time. Thats just the point that they miss.
They have 26 WS championships. The Mets have 2. If they won once every decade and a half they would have the same sentimental feelings that Met fans have for the 69 & 86 teams.

Mike, please don't post any more links to Mack's Mets Notes. Please don't associate yourself are your site with anyone who refers to Asians as "Orientals".

A doctor asked 3 married men, how often do you have sex with your wife. The first said once a month, the second one said once a week, the third one who was the most joyfull and happy one, said one night a year. The doctor said how come your so happy then? the man said, because tonight is the night...Baaraa boomboom. Yeah we won a W.S. 20 years ago, but we won one. It was great then and its great 20 years later. Its our W.S. to remember. It helped us get through some L-O-N-G seasons. My cry was just like the one with the Brooklyn Dodgers "wait till next year"..Its 20 years later. Why am I so happy, This could be the year.

Shari -- you listen to some of the columnists, and it's almost like we don't have the right to feel proud about 1986. They throw the Yankees in our faces all the time like that's supposed to matter to us.
femdog -- I would contact Mack directly if I were you. I don't believe that he meant the term Oriental as a slur. I didn't know this was a word that some would find offensive, and appreciate that you let me know it does. As an Italian-American who is sick to death of being stereotyped by shows like the Sopranos, I wouldn't willingly offend anyone. I would be careful not to use that word now that I know it bothers you. I think Mack would be, too.
Rev -- You've missed your true calling doing standup.

Yes we have won one WS in 20 years. But so have the Braves and how many years did they win their division. At least when we win, we don't tease...

Does anyone remember that the Yankees first baseman was caught in a lie about steroid use and offered a half-apology about it. Remember how they tried to get rid of him and couldn't?

You hit the nail. Just as the Yanks did, the best way to introduce a thirst to win is to implant a culture and mentality of winning...thats what happened Sat. Now every Met today wants to be remembered as the '86 Mets are, as Champs.

'Among legitimate NL contenders right now, it'd be hard to find a better top of the rotation than Brad Penny, Derek Lowe and Greg Maddux'

I looked up Ollies Stats and factoring in Petey's injured season, Petersons unqualified success with Traxx, Maine Julio, Wagner This season, I dare say, Ollie is not as far gone as pundits say. His performances (and age) are not that far off the Pitt staff ie Zach Duke and Ian Snell.

2. I think Oliie, Pedro, Traxx and Maine will match up with even the Dodgers, plus with El Duque, Oliver, Mota, Heilman, Wags, and Bradford in the BP to make it a really short game.

3. The Mets have not had that dynasty (should have in the 80s) but the Miracle Mets always have something special in the playoffs. In '99 the ARZ D'backs had RJ and were expected to win it at all, In 2000 it was the Cards, In 1986 It was the Nolan Ryan-Mike Scott Astros, ....Only in 1988 were we a one series team. (darn that mike Scossia)...........

Word to Bob Klapisch: Shut up. If you want to write a column that allows you to wear your bias on your sleeve and publicly kick people when they're down, ask the National Enquirer to start a sports section.

Sydd -- He didn't really apologize, since he didn't say what he was sorry for.
-Ed -- I'll be interested in seeing if Maddux maintains this pace he's pitching at right now into the playoffs. Was he quitting on the Cubs so badly?
Matt -- It was weird he even felt the need to take the shot at Lo Duca in that article.

Everybody lieks baseball becuase of its hisotry. Everybody can always recogtnize its best teams and the highest profile records that people love and udnerstand. Something that can't be said about Football or BAsketball. Nobody knows or cares about those records.

Who cares what some writers think. Celebrating the history of the team is a good and beautiful thing. Let the Mets celebrate 1986.
Heck, just last week the Texas Rangers celebrated the 1996 team, the first time the team made it to the playoffs. They ended dlosing 3 games to 1 to the Yankees in the ALDS but its still a part of the teams history and it was something that was "celebrated". The didn't win the pennant. THey didn't represent the AL in the World Series, they didn't mkae to the World Series but that 1996 team is part of its history and was celebrated.
Nothing wrong with that.

I agree, I just get tired of these guys throwing the Yankees in our faces all the time.

Aaah, who cares about the Yankees, and those writers who feel duty-bound to belittle the Mets? It's our team; their loss if they can't appreciate it.

Good times, anyway: the Post reports that Glavine won't need surgery or any drastic treatment in all likelihood.

And good times, two; check out this recent comment on a pitcher who used to be ours:

"Sure, he's got the look of a closer, he's a huge, intimidating guy. He also has the baseball IQ of a walnut; failing time and time again to understand that just throwing hard ain't enough."

The subject was Armando Benitez, from the Giants fan's website Only Baseball Matters. Kind of reminds you of the sort of late-game drama the Mets fan used to face, eh what?

These days the Mets have a closer who possesses, in addition to world class heat, both an idea and vast reserves of courage. I know Wagner's had his problems, but I like him; he is fearless, and he is doing the job.

dd -- I hear you on Wagner. It bothered me when he was walking guys a while back, but now when they beat him it's on hits, and that's all I could really ask. He's been okay, if a little Looperish at times with the drama.

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