By Mike Steffanos
First off a quick programming note. I apologize to those of you who were looking for one of Barry Duchan's historical articles yesterday. I know they are a great favorite of many of this site's readers, as they are of mine.
As Barry explained back in February on his Metscentric blog, he has stopped writing these wonderful pieces. I have seven left to run that haven't been shown on this site yet.
My plan -- which I had meant to share with you yesterday -- is to publish these remaining seven pieces every other week until they are gone. After that, with Barry's permission, I'd like to rerun one a month. I've heard from Mets fans young and old who love these articles, and I figure doing it this way gives new fans a chance to discover them.
Even though Barry is not updating his blog anymore, all of these pieces are still to be found at metscentric.blogspot.com if you'd like to browse through them at some point. Old ones that were published here can also be found linked to from Barry's author's page.
As mentioned in this post, I was at Shea Stadium Saturday when a significant number of fans booed Johan Santana as he was leaving the field after his less than successful Shea debut. While I understand the anger and frustration with last year's team, I honestly feel that the atmosphere at Shea Stadium has become toxic to the point where it's not hard to understand why the Mets play better on the road.
Predictably, I guess, I received some very angry e-mails on this. Since I don't make a point of answering that kind of stuff personally, here are some answers to the main points brought up in those e-mails:
- I understand Santana is making a lot of money, and I certainly don't feel sorry for him. He seems strong enough to survive it. I was bothered by the boos because I felt they reflected badly on us, as fans. This is the kind of thing some Mets fans used to make fun of Yankees fans about a few years ago. Now some of us are doing it.
- As far as a "right to boo", while I can't find it anywhere in the Constitution, it's certainly not illegal. It's still not what being a fan is about -- turning on a guy for one bad appearance. And what's up with booing Schoeneweis, who has pitched well this season and has been a stand-up guy? Are you still booing him for last year? Now that's fair.
- If you feel the need not to read my site anymore because you disagree with something I wrote, that's fine. I don't need to hear it, though. I assume those people aren't reading this, but if I manage to piss any of the rest of you off at some point, feel free to stop reading without notifying me.
- Yes, I agree that it was almost comically bad P.R. for the Mets to raise ticket prices the year after an epic collapse. I assume they want to really jack them up next year when Citi field opens, and didn't want to do it all at once. Still it was incredibly insensitive on the part of Mets management. I don't think the players had a vote in it, though.
I know this is a forlorn hope, but I wish we could all let go of the ugliness of last season and really have a fresh start. I suspect we all, both players and fans, would benefit.
This team is what it is. It bothers some fans that they don't get really fiery and take things to heart, but they were like that in 2006 when it worked for them. I'll be honest with you; I think one of Minaya's most important jobs this coming off-season is to change the culture of the clubhouse by turning over some of the leadership -- similar to what was done when he first came here. The whole dynamic needs to change.
Wishing and hoping won't change that dynamic now, though. Meanwhile, incessant booing has only made this club play tight, nervous baseball at home. The atmosphere at Shea Saturday was tense from before the game even started. Even Lisa sensed it, and she hasn't been following everything that's been going on. It's sad, because rooting for the Mets is something that I believe the vast majority of us do for enjoyment. This hasn't been fun.
For all of their ups and downs, I think we've seen some positives from the Mets as opposed to what we saw last year. They're still a work in progress, and have some weaknesses, but I think they have a chance to erase the stink of 2007. Maybe if we got behind them more early it would help. If it doesn't, those of you who wish to boo will have plenty of time to do it.