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Off Season after an "Off Season" after a couple of ...

by Jim McNierney

Being a Mets fan means many things.

If you grew up with the team in the 1960's it meant being the butt end of jokes from all of your classmates who were likely Yankees fans. It was being chided that the "NY" on your favorite cap was the wrong color.

After the improbably success of '69, a bunch of those "fair weather" fans came over from the other side for a few years. The "Ya Gotta Believe" bunch in '73 sustained you for a few more years.

Then... The "Franchise", Tom Seaver was shuttled off to find another place to finally pitch his no-hitter. It became really easy to get good seats at Shea again. Oh, and the Yankee fans came out of hiding to chide you about your allegiance to the Amazin's. So it was for almost ten years.

In the early 80's, behind the scenes, there was a rebuilding. We started to see some of the promise in 1983 with the emergence of Daryl Strawberry. The trade for Captain Keith Hernandez... Hope began to blossom once again. Of course, this culminated in the only other championship year they had in 1986. The balance of the 1980's though saw the Mets field some great teams. They were in the hunt and it was fun to be wearing the blue/orange.

Then came the 1990's... Pain... a lot of pain... There didn't seem any effort on the part of the Mets management to want to revisit that "rebuilding effort" again. Instead, they seemed to insist that the club was only one major trade or a free agent signing away. We saw a lot of 'em. Bonilla (twice), Viola, Samuel and others came and went... we squandered the few prospects that the farm system seemed to generate in the trades. In the later portion of the 1990's, they did field some great teams.

I still contend that the 1999 team was perhaps the best in that era. The Mets had the best infield ever. Olerud, Alfonzo, Ordonez and Ventura were nothing short of astounding. They got some good pitching and came close. (I have a complete mental block with the 2000 World Series... It's a defense mechanism).

Since that ill fated NL Championship team, The mindset of the management of this club has remained the same. They have completely ignored the classic way of building a team by good scouting, drafting intelligently and building young prospects up to bolster the major league club and to foster a strong organization. They continue to focus solely on the Major League product and attempt to buy a pennant through high priced free agents and trades.

This has never worked for this club. I contend it won't ever work. We aren't in the Bronx and this method is just something that remains a road to nowhere. The Mets can't keep auctioning off the future for a crack at a respectable present.

Wake and smell the coffee.

I'm very suspicious of the "quiet" during this off-season. I think the rumors around Mr. Wilpon's financial crisis could very well affect their anticipated off-season dealings. Perhaps for the best.

I don't see this club becoming successful again until they harken back to the formula that brought them the two championship teams that they've had in their storied history. Maybe the new owner will see it that way.


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