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The Metropolitan Burden

Who doesn’t like to feel good? Who doesn’t like to celebrate a job well done? True, we all have that person in our lives who loves to be miserable but on the whole, most everyone enjoys a little victory dance once and a while. Our boys in orange and blue are no exception. Unfortunately it seems like everyone else takes exception to our amazin’ team taking pride in being, well, amazin’.

Last week I talked about the lack of leadership and fire in the current roster which is why you’ll see a Kool Aid smile across my face when I see any sign of life from our team. Be it in the form of an angry batter arguing with an ump after a bad call or a pitcher holding a stare for just a few seconds longer when a clear strike is ruled a ball. I think one of the best moments in recent Mets history was the bench clearing, I don’t even know if you can call it a brawl, but the bench clearing “incident” on the second to last game of the ‘07 season. Signs of life! Finally! Something this team shows on what I think is a very sparing and respectable basis.

The modern day Mets aren’t the loud and wonderful team of old. They are, with a few exceptions, a very quiet and honorable group of PC players. I like that about us! I do think our boys are too politically correct but we have a very gentlemanly tone about us. We’re not going around the rest of the majors telling everyone we’re the standard by which all teams should strive to emulate like those a few miles northwest of JR Field do - endlessly. Sure their argument is summed up in a number – 26, and the whole 26/2 rivalry will be next week’s topic. But I say this; if you haven’t done anything lately, keep the chest thumping and the self aggrandizing to a minimal, please. Still, if you’re the Mets, the Spankees or even... and this hurts, the Phonies – Phillies oops... regardless of the team you’re allowed to show some life.

So often it’s the argument in politics. The candidate doesn’t show enough passion or energy. Regardless of your position on the outcome of the recent presidential election, it demonstrated how in need the American people were to see someone mirror the life they feel themselves. And that’s politics! This is a game! For all the Mets memorabilia I have in my apartment and all the orange and blue bleeding that I do, in the end, it’s only a game. So why overly criticize a team or a particular player for showing life? You may’ve guessed it, the particular player I’m talking about is the man whose jersey I wore to the crescent and will don at Jackie Robinson Field, number 7, Jose, Jose, Jose!

Now, just when did everyone turn on my man Jose? When he burst on the scene he was touted as being the player who’ll bring the fun back to baseball. I know what you’re about to say, but even before the let down that was 2007, the media started taking a less flattering approached towards #7. I expect that from outlets in rival cities, that’s cool, but I’ve been asked time and again where’s the beef? I’ll tell you exactly where the damn beef is, right here in the big apple when those columnists or commentators who claim to be a Mets faithful start ripping apart our boys, especially Reyes all for what, having fun?

“Baseball is a gentleman’s game.” “Play the game in light of the respect America’s pastime deserves.” “There’s no room for flashiness in the game.” Those are just a few of the countless axioms I hear come out of the mouths of Mets critics. But I ask is Jose’s pointing to the heavens when he hits a homerun (be it the winning HR or not), or half hugging with #5 after our RBI leader brings him home, or sharing a coordinated clap with The Chief after one of #21’s grand slams that terrible? That ungentlemanly? Which is worse? Jose having fun or say the stand still homerun hitters as I so affectionately call them?

A-Cod, Manny, Big Poppy and Howard are just a few of the talented and respected sluggers who’ll crack one and proceed not to run or even jog to first, but just stand there in the batter’s box and wait until the ball’s cleared the wall to begin rounding the bases. How pompous. How unsportsmanlike. Sure, The Chief will cream ball and watch it swore, however, all the while he’ll be, at the very least jogging down the first base line. And I say hey, I personally don’t like stand still hitters but that’s just how some people play and enjoy their game. Some people also like to take a ton of curtain calls, some, like #21 are reluctant to do so. No problem. Now I know Jose isn’t perfect. Don’t slam your glove on the dirt because your throw to first sucked and never argue with your manager for all to see and the media was correct in calling him out on behavior like that but let the man pump his fist after hitting one of his league leading triples. He doesn’t deserve to be the poster boy for unwarranted criticism but it doesn’t end with #7, the entire team has fallen victim to the whims of the press.

As I stated earlier it’s the home town press that truly gets under my skin. The Mets are not a vocal team but in the few instances where a player has spoken up they’re often crucified. Beltran told the Phonies to watch out at the start of ‘08 and so many right here in New York took the angle that after ‘07 he and the team had no right to open their mouths, especially when directed towards the NL East champs of the year before. So the question begs to be asked, did Rollins have the right to declare his teams greatness after the ‘06 season where the Mets blew the NL East out of the water? But, as always the media in NYC and elsewhere took the position that Jimmy’s words were a statement of confidence and Beltran’s as simply undeserved trash talkin’. Hole Camels goes on Beningo and Roberts (in my opinion the best radio sports show in NYC) calling our team “choke artists” and hey, I don’t like Camels but he is the World Series MVP and trash talkin’ is fun and healthy, it is only a game. I take issue when he says that in one breath then justifies the Jose Reyes picture on the locker incident with the next. Here’s an idea for all: we’re all free of express our excitement and team pride so long as it’s not detrimental to oneself, their team or anyone else. As for our hometown press: if you claim to be a true believer, stop ripping apart the little things and focus on pointing out and suggesting ways to fix the real problems and elevate our team to a championship.

For now I’m waiting for the curse of hypocrisy to befall our newest member, Francisco Rodriguez. The fist pumping, the yelling – it’s great! It was great when he was on the west coast, it’ll be great at JR Field. However, time and again we’ve seen praised and respected players come to the crescent and be torn down after just one bad game. Time will of course tell, but I suspect the second K-Rod shows the slightest bit of mortality on the field he won’t be fawned over in his next victory when he pumps his fist in his similar way to Mr. Growing Pains himself, Joba. I suspect he’ll inherit the stigma that unfortunately comes with wearing orange and blue.

Many will argue that you do not reserve the right to celebrate with a pile on after a hard fought victory or to enjoy a fist pump or a hand clap dance until you’ve won a championship. Really? There are identifiable problems on all teams that don’t win the World Series, the Amazin’s are certainly no exception. Out of the 30 MLB teams, 8 make it to the play-offs, 4 to the league championships and 2 to the World Series and 1 seize the championship. Are you telling me the other 29 teams don’t deserve to enjoy the game they’re paid good money play and as fans with all the money we spend to see our boys, don’t deserve an unapologetic team looking to fix the problems of the past while at the same time enjoying themselves in the present?

Two final examples: The White Sox hadn’t won a championship from 1917 til 2005. But when Ozzie Guillén arrived he injected a play hard/celebrate hard kind of mentality. That style was considered to be a great thing for the franchise long before they won anything and they were right. Lou Piniella is possibly the most fiery manager today and he’s loved for it. Perhaps hated by some but in a “love to hate” sort of way. Regardless, holding with the line of thought that you need to shut up until you’ve won something... Come on, the Cubs? Chicago’s teams are just a few examples of century old teams that’ve won an equal or comparable number of championships to that of the Mets, a team half their ages. In honesty though, who truly deserves the blame for how the Mets are treated? Simple, the Mets themselves.

This team has no chutzpa. They’re not outspoken, they don’t call out the press or trash talkers on rival teams. They’re called an immature and undeserving team meanwhile today’s roster is made up of some of the game’s quietest, most respectable players. In my limited opinion, too quiet and way too PC. I was the kid in the schoolyard who never stood up for himself and thus I was a target for all the other kid’s aggressions. Maybe that’s why I’m such a whinny blogger? Eh! Anyway, the Mets, the wonderful, talented and promising Mets need to stand up, walk onto the field, play hard and enjoy America’s pastime however they see fit, then walk back into the clubhouse, win or lose and take guff from no one. Again, Mr. Manuel serves as the perfect example. Yes he’s a new manager but he’s escaped the scourge of the press. He’s outspoken and most importantly he’s real. All we can do as Believers is hope his leadership will help this team grow a spine and inspire them to not apologize for being themselves. But then again what do I know? I’m just an Upper Deck Bum.

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