Mets lament: A fan’s open letter to Fred Wilpon
Dear Mr. Wilpon,
I am writing to inform you that, as I sit here tonight, I am one angry Mets fan. I’d like to emphasize the word angry. As a devoted Mets fan for the last dozen or so years (that is, as long as I can remember), I’ve learned to be frustrated, disappointed, depressed, distantly hopeful, sometimes satisfied, and even occasionally jubilant. But never, never have I been truly angry with the team…until tonight.
This is how the letter began (minus a great many of the expletives that, if I wrote them out here, would probably force my editors to permanently ban me from this website) in my mind, as I walked down the never-ending flights of steps leading out of Citi Field on Tuesday evening. The letter went on to describe how Tuesday’s 5-2 loss was the most pathetic sad-sack piece-of-crap effort I have ever seen in all my years of going to Mets games, to the point that for the first time since 2006, I had a lump in my throat after the game.
It continued like this:
Even though the Mets had been in a tailspin and the season had become an unmitigated disaster since the All-Star break, I had convinced my father, grandfather and brother to go see the Amazins take on the league-leading Washington Nationals because R.A. Dickey was pitching, because the team had been competitive the last few days, and because the odds said they had to win sooner or later.
My persistence prevailed, so up we drove to Flushing. In many ways, the visit was really an enjoyable one: the traffic we faced was nothing unusual, our parking spot was great, the food was good (Two Boots Pizza!), the Cracker Jack was being handed out for free, and our seats were excellent. It was a great night at the ballpark.
Then the game started.
Oh my, the game. Dickey pitched well into the sixth, baffling the Nationals with his usual array of knuckleballs and holding them to one run over five relatively stress-free innings. He failed to reach inning number seven, however, thanks to seven nightmarish pitches in which Dickey was done in by timely Nats hitting, shoddy fielding from the Mets outfielders, and a mammoth home run from Adam LaRoche that cleared the Verazano. It was the second loss of the season for Dickey, who has struggled of late after his stunningly brilliant start to the season.
Dickey’s struggles—forgivable in the grand scheme of things—were just the tip of the iceberg, however. The hitting was, as they say, another story,
A run-scoring single from Ronny Cedeño in the 2nd. A single by Ike Davis in the 6th. A pinch-hit homer by Jordany Valdespin leading off the eighth.
And that was it—the full extent of the Mets “offense” on the evening. David Wright spent, at most, a cumulative two minutes at the plate. Jason Bay took another o-fer. Even Valdespin’s dinger was marred by the fact that the young utilityman sprinted to the dugout with his arm aloft, as though oblivious to the fact that his team was down by three runs and completely punchless.
All the while, the crowd was so quiet that they seemed to be direct transplants from Arthur Ashe stadium across the street. The fans did the wave before the first half-hearted “Let’s Go Mets” chant started up. Our section consisted of a row of fans that was paying no attention to the game, a small cadre of Nats fans, and a well-meaning but delusional pair of Mets fans who thought that every foul pop was a three-run homer. And that was in the cheap seats—down in the myriad box seats, there seemed to be more folks in ties than t-shirts.
Lackluster in the field, lifeless at the plate, and lethargic in the stands. That was the Mets on Tuesday evening.
I could have taken any one of those factors, maybe even two together, and still thought of the loss as ordinary. But all three–it was enough to make me downright angry. Angry at the team, the crowd, the management, and myself, for deluding myself into thinking that the first three were still capable of providing some form of fun entertainment.
I should have known this was coming. After all, this is the game that breaks your heart because it’s designed that way. As long as you’re a baseball fan—unless you’re a Philistine, by which I mean a Yankee fan—you know what I’m talking about. I know this, and I accept it. I continue to watch, partly out of habit, but mostly because I cling to the hope that one day the pendulum of fandom will swing back in my favor and that victory, then, will be so much sweeter because of all the torment and anguish it erases. To a certain extent, then, I embrace the failures; without them, the successes hardly seem so exciting.
As a general armchair sports philosophy, this credo has served me well. But the Mets seem to be another story.
Things are getting to be, quite frankly, ridiculous. It’s one thing to be a bad team; it’s quite another to be a bad team for four years in a row, alternately forsaking either the present or the future at the expense of one for the other. It’s quite another thing to perform well for a while, then abruptly and spectacularly collapse at some undetermined point in the season, be it October, September, July, or spring training.
The Mets are not a contender. The Mets are not rebuilding. To be brutally honest, the Mets are diseased off the field and simply not good enough on it. I’m not pretending I have all or any of the answers—I don’t—but then again, it’s not my job to do so. But I do know that there’s a whole lot that needs to change on just about every level. Otherwise, the dwindling fan base will be treated to an endless succession of games like Tuesday’s: a joyless and uninspired effort wrapped in a deceptively enjoyable exterior.
I’d ask for a refund, but I know better to expect that from a franchise that charges $48 for an in-game dinner (which, because of my ticket location, I wouldn’t even have been allowed to buy if I wanted to do so).
I’ve stuck with the Mets through thick and thin, and whether I like it or not, I’ll keep on rooting no matter what happens this season.
But there’s something wrong with the Mets, Mr. Wilpon. I’m starting to wonder if the fact that I stick with them means there’s something wrong with me, too.