By Joyce Mandelkern
We attended our last home game of the 2009 season on Friday night. It was truly bittersweet. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that this 2009 season was coming to an end. The bad news was that this 2009 season was coming to an end. There is absolutely no getting around the fact that I will miss watching the Mets play every day. Pete will only miss Shake Shack. He is glad this season is over and done. Me, not so much. I suppose it is the finality of another lost season. I hate when it ends and at the same time, I fear what next season might bring.
It is much less painful for me to have a season end like this than the way the past 2 seasons ended. It is not as heartbreaking, but more soul-searing. It comes down to whether you prefer to lose on a last second field goal or you are totally blown out. The 2009 Mets were totally blown out. They were never really in it, so for me, that stab in the heart, that kick in the gut didn't happen. We just limped quietly to the finish line in disrepair. I would've much preferred that we had put ourselves in a position to be devastated again. Although my cardiologist would beg to differ, I'm sure.
I just have this overwhelming feeling of dread and depression. What upset me the most about this season is not so much the injuries and how they were handled, or our lack of depth, but the lack of fundamentals - the way we played the game. There is no justification for that. Our team has a very low baseball IQ. They make the same dumb mistakes over and over again and I just don't get it. We are talking basics here - running the bases, throwing to the right base, running out a ball. I knew what our problems were going into this season. I wasn't counting lack of baseball knowledge and fundamentals among them. I should have - my bad. And with no changes in the coaching staff (I'm sorry I don't think Luis Alicea was the cause of all this), I cannot assume this won't be an issue in 2010. You can fill all the holes you want, but if the players you bring in don't play the game the right way what difference will it make? With the same staff coming back, why should I believe this situation will change? Where is the accountability?
I have a lack of faith in the organization as a whole. I'm not saying they don't mean well, I'm just saying I don't think they have a plan or the right plan. I watched the entire Minaya-Wilpon-Howard interview on WFAN yesterday and I honestly felt they were insulting my baseball intelligence and my fandom. They would be much better off from a public relations perspective if they just don't speak. We keep hearing the same state-of-the-team address/apology at the end of every season and are promised that things will change and they are working to bring us a championship. Why would I believe 2010 will be any better or different? Be specific, what changes have you made? What is the plan going forward? None, and therein the problem lies. I'm tired of bad signings, bad contracts (including Omar's 3 year extension), poor hires and poor drafts and development. Someone needs to look at the whole picture and determine if a complete overhaul is necessary. I can be patient if I know we are rebuilding the right way for the future.
They had the players film a combo thank you/sorry video to the fans and they showed it Friday night. I'm a soft touch and of course it brought tears to my eyes. At least they thanked me for my support and said sorry for the bad year, but it's not enough. I want change. Play better baseball. It is that simple. You don't need a bigger payroll to play fundamentally sound baseball. You need the right people on staff to teach the fundamentals and make the players stay on task. This obviously begins in the minors so we don't have to be worrying about this at the major league level. We lack consistency through the various levels of the organization. Make this part of the plan. I just feel like we are one big mess from the top to the bottom. I don't ask for much, just play good baseball. Am I wrong? I know they have made some changes at the minor league level, but is it too little too late? Are these cosmetic changes to try and appease the fan base and distract us from the larger issues with the major league club? I no longer have any answers, just questions.
After my first season at Citifield let me say this - I miss Shea. I could go into all the reasons why, but now is not the post for that particular discussion. However, I do not appreciate being told that fans are over-reacting to what they don't like about the stadium. What the Mets don't understand is that it is not just the stadium we are reacting to, but how the Mets do things. Yes, they are making some changes, but it seems as if they are doing it to shut us up, not because they have heard us and see our point. They just don't get us. There is a total disconnect between the organization and its fans. Allow me to digress for one moment in regard to how they treat their fans. Here's an idea: when you have a give-away night, especially like the one that celebrates the '69 Mets, how about you splurge and give a tee shirt to every person who comes to the stadium, not just the first 25,000. Imagine how it felt to see all those Philly fans have tee shirts to rip to shreds and real met fans who never got one. What's wrong with this picture? In all honesty, I'm still upset that I didn't get a bear to give to my granddaughter. I guess I was number 25, 001 that night. I pay for my ticket and parking, I think that should entitle me to a giveaway no matter what time I arrive at the stadium. By the way, I have never missed the first pitch. Give a little something back to me, I give plenty to you.
I am mentally exhausted from this season. All the drama on and off the field, has taken its toll on me. Who needs General Hospital as my soap of choice, I have the NY Mets. I want any and all drama to be on the field, not off of it. Just play the game. I don't want to be cringing when I watch press conferences. Can't we please behave professionally? Other teams do, why can't we?
I have vowed not to get caught up in any of the offseason hype this year, not to watch one pitch of spring training and not to read anything that is written about 2010. I have finally learned that none of it matters. Until that holy day in April, it all means nothing and I refuse to set myself up for another fall. Who am I kidding? I will be on top of every move and ever non-move in the hope that we get this thing turned around. And I will be counting the days until pitchers and catchers to try and get the bad taste out of my mouth from this season. But don't expect me to take their word for it, that things will be just fine going forward. Don't tell me, show me. Prove it to me on the field. That is the only place it really matters. They have a lot of work to do.
I wish I had more faith that we will be contending next year and I hope I am wrong in thinking that things will not change for the better. At this point, I can't even give the organization the benefit of the doubt. I'll tell you what, if you have me, a long time diehard season ticket holder doubting the organization's ability to get on the right track, you're in big trouble. I'm the kind of fan who lives and die with every pitch of every inning and who believes in miracles. I have always defended the Mets with all my passion. So if I'm starting to question our future that says a lot. I'm the original "wait till next year" gal and right now I am anticipating another season of frustrating, aggravating, embarrassing, underachieving baseball. What a way to go into the off season.